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5 Tips for Lowering Winter Utility Costs


Brrrr! That chill you’re feeling may not just be the freezing winter temps outside. It may also be the feeling of dread when you think about your company’s next utility bill.. Once there’s a dip in temperatures, heating costs can spike, leaving small business owners with higher operating expenses and smaller profit margins.

These five tips may help lower your utility costs and bring greater energy efficiency to your company.

1. Turn down the heat. You don’t want your employees or customers to feel like they’re stepping into the Arctic when they enter your business. However, turning the temperature down just one degree can lead to incremental savings that add up over time. A lower internal temperature leads to slower heat loss. So the longer your business remains at a lower temperature, the more energy - and money - you may save.

2. Install a programmable thermostat. Businesses may save up to 10 percent on their annual heating and cooling costs by lowering the temperature by 7 to 10 degrees for an eight-hour period, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Setting the thermostat to drop down to 60 degrees from 7 pm to 6 am won’t cause your employees any discomfort, but will help you hold the line on utility costs. You can also override the pre-programmed settings, so if your customer service team is staying late one night to work on a project, you can adjust the temperature so they’ll be comfortable.

3. Use storefront door closers. If your business has a small storefront, shoppers frequently entering and exiting can let cold air in and make it more difficult to regulate indoor temperature. Revolving doors and automatic doors can help keep the cold at bay, but may not be a practical solution for your storefront. One option is to install an inexpensive surface-mounted closer so the door will gently swing shut behind customers.

4. Stop heat leakage with better insulation. When you own your office space, it’s sometimes easier to tackle problems like installing better insulation or re-caulking door frames since you’re the final decision maker. If you rent office space, however, you may be more limited in the changes you can make. Talk to your landlord about insulation upgrades, including installing insulated window coverings like clear plastic sheeting, which may help reduce drafts and air leaks.

5. Reduce your office equipment standby power loads. As you consider ways to lower your winter utility bill, think beyond the thermostat and consider office equipment that could be a contributing factor for higher costs. For example, do you work on a laptop computer but leave it plugged in for most of the day? A single laptop computer can use 4.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity even when it’s fully charged, simply because the computer is still plugged in. That may not seem like a lot, but when you add all your computers, inkjet printers, and fax machines together, you could be looking at several hundred dollars in unnecessary spending each year for energy you don’t need or use. Other appliances, like a router or modem, are always on, requiring constant energy. If you do not already use ENERGY STAR-labeled office equipment, consider investing in an equipment upgrade, especially for equipment that’s always on or in heavy use. ENERGY STAR-labeled office equipment can provide up to 75% energy savings for some products, according to Remind employees to unplug equipment or turn off their power strips when they leave each day.

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