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How to be a “Green” small business, without capital investment.

Yes, as business owners we all shudder when we open our energy bills, and we would all like free energy. (And yes, there is a way to get some free energy.) When we think “free” energy, we often think “Green Energy”, and our minds immediately gravitate to wind turbines and solar arrays. Once in place, these are wonderful technologies that produce energy with little or no carbon footprint. But the expense of such technologies can be insurmountable for most of us small to mid-sized businesses. Even large corporations struggle justifying the cost of Green Energies, and when they do it then it is often done for the PR aspects of “Being Green”; and that’s all taking into account that these technologies are often heavily subsidized by local, state, and federal government.

Subsidized with your money

There are typically such government subsidies available to you also, which can tip the scale for those companies whose situation still warrants a major subsidized capital investment. But of those companies that fit that model, many refuse to be involved with government subsidies because they believe that the taxpayer should not have to foot the bill for their company’s investment benefit. (Yes, there are still some people of high integrity left in this world.) Nor do many trust the government to somehow NOT pull a fast one and change the rules of the subsidies, later on, while the capital investment is still active and on the books and could devastate the company’s profits in later years.

Subsidies help to get certain infrastructure in place, like internet, power lines, roads, etc… so it’s not all bad. But in order to get subsidized on Green technologies you have to go through the motions, jumping through a few hoops on the way, and you need to weigh the long-term costs and payback. For most companies, especially small businesses, if the return on investment is not covered within few years, then we simply cannot justify the expense. The rationale is that if we take that same amount of money and invest it in a safe low-yield fund, then we will get a greater return than we would with the Green Energy, and could, in theory, produce enough extra income to subsidize part of our own energy bills. To further detour us, if we invest that money in advertising and inventory, we can likely realize returns of 10% to 20% annually. This means that only companies who have excess cash and who can afford to have staff dedicated to the cause, and at the same time afford the investment, will even bother to look into Green Energy.

For those brave companies pioneering the Green Energies frontlines, the maintenance cost is high and the payback is long-term, so few companies can afford that kind of capital investment. But kudos to those who can. Green Energy is simply too costly for many small to mid-sized businesses, which is why it has not yet caught on like wild fire.

But then, what do the rest of us small to mid-sized businesses do?

We work smart!

The first step for any company should not be to look into Green Energies, but rather to look into Energy Conservation . Sadly, few people grasp just how much energy they are inadvertently wasting. Most business owners are far too busy running their business selling their particular type of widget, trying to make ends meet, to even give thought to any of this, let alone to have the excess cash to do so.

Here’s the tough part about getting people into Energy Conservation: It is difficult to tell someone that something exists which they never even conceived or thought about before. Kind of like trying to explain the notion of “God” to someone who was not brought up in that culture. It goes under the “I don’t know what I don’t know” category. If you have never been privy to true Energy Conservation, then you probably have not heard the term "Energy Management", and even if you did hear it, then it likely went in one ear and out the other.

Another pitfall to this Energy Conservation notion is the bad image and reputation that anything connected to the word “Conservation” has gotten over the years. If you’re old enough to recall the size of the cars in the 1960s and 1970s and can recall when the “energy crisis” occurred during the Carter years, then you will recall how unattractive and poorly built some of the "fuel-efficient" cars were, and how our culture was not ready to accept philosophies deemed “hippie-type” or “tree-hugging”. The car companies have made, and still make, a grave error in that area (not sure if it is deliberate or just ignorance), but when you want to get something out to the public you must first appeal to people who actually have money and are prominent members of their community so that you can actually sell the product and have it spread. In doing so, you can better develop your technologies and reduce costs, thereby reducing retail prices, and, in turn, sell more units.

When a movement gets a bad image, as did Energy Conservation, it only serves to hinder its spread to all the people. Let’s keep changing that, and instead of being driven by fads and trends or forced by social media bully tactics, let’s do Real Energy Conservation by actually conserving energy through proper Energy Management, and save our businesses a lot of money in the process.

So how do we get Free Energy?

With a proper Energy Management Program!

I am willing to bet that many businesses, maybe even most, never gave thought to the notion of managing their energy, mostly because they never heard the term “Energy Management”. And, I am also willing to bet that of the few who have actually heard the term, their minds go directly to their electric bill, thus totally overlooking their often far higher fuel and/or gas energy costs. We won’t even touch on the wastes in compressed air, or your building envelope, etc. Energy Management is becoming more and more important with the trend of ever-shrinking profits, and few people know that “Energy Management” even exists and is something they should be doing as regular business habit. If we can cut energy costs, then we can maintain a more robust profit margin.

Back to Free Energy…

If I offered to pay ten percent of your energy bills, would you take me up on the offer? What if your power company suddenly said that they would give you 15% of your energy for free, with no catch? Would you take it?... We thought so!

Get yourself and your company involved in a good EMP (Energy Management Program) and be diligent in enforcing that program. Now, at this point, I would expect that some readers are thinking, “Oh great, they want us to turn down the thermostat and turn off the lights.” Not true! Workers get docile and cranky when they're cold, and you can’t work safely in low or no light. That’s NOT good for business.

The key to a proper and well-run Energy Management Program (EMP) is first and foremost, training. And in that training you will find that the second most important part of a properly run EMP is that the changes made to reduce your energy costs should NOT adversely affect your people or your operation.

How do we start an EMP (Energy Management Program)?

You get your staff involved.

Getting your staff involved in a robust Energy Management Training Course will save you tens of thousands of dollars, with minimal investment. Your Energy Management Training and the EMP (Energy Management Program) that you put in place becomes more and more valuable to you with every dollar you spend on your combined energy costs.

But to be honest, if you have energy costs of less than $1,000 per month then this might not be for you, because with energy bills that small, it might take two or three years to get a full return on your investment. Sure, you might save $100 to $200 per month, every month from now to eternity, but you won’t get the immediate payback that a company with $10,000.00 per month or $100,000.00 per month of energy expenses will get. Companies with very large energy bills can offset their Energy Management Training costs in a single day once the education is implemented. When you compare a few hundred dollars per person to get key staff trained, versus even a very small 4% reduction in energy consumption on $40,000 per month of energy expenses, it quickly answers your question of whether or not to get your staff trained in Energy Management and start your EMP. In that case you would have about a one month ROI, and would realize savings on your energy bills for ever more. A one-month ROI is pretty good!

What small businesses don't know

What a lot of small businesses don’t realize is just how much unnecessary waste they have in the energy aspects of their business; and the same goes for larger businesses. If you have combined energy bills of $2,500 per month for all energy types, and you’re unaware of how inadvertently wasteful you are and just how much of your energy is going up in smoke, then the probability is high that you could save over 20% per month on your combined energy bills. That’s $500 per month—EVERY month.

The basic rule in Energy Management is that the more you are willing to spend making changes, the more you will save. There is a point of diminishing returns, but it is a good rule of thumb. The best part about a solid EMP is that there are many things that can be done to get costs down 5% to 10% by simply making some basic, low or no-cost, changes in company culture and habits.

Where is your Free Energy going?

I could go on about this for days, but I think you get the point. Your Free Energy is going up your chimney at this moment while you read this, and you are doing nothing to stop it. In the days of old, before the internet, you had to send your key employees off to some remote city for several days to be trained at expensive seminars while paying the additional travel and lodging costs, thus, making proper Energy Management accessible to only larger companies. But that is no longer true! Since the advent of the internet, and especially the smartphone, you can now take Energy Management Training Courses Online , while at lunch using your smartphone—a sandwich in one hand and your phone in the other, without skipping a beat. There is no comparison. Oh, how things have changed!

If you could cut your full-spectrum, combined annual energy costs by even only 4%, would it be worth it to you? What would it be worth if you could save 15%?

Typically, it’s considerably more.
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