BC Hydro offers some bright ideas to help business owners save energy

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With BC Hydro’s online electricity tracking tools, you can easily monitor your business’ energy use on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis. Understanding your energy use patterns can help you make smart energy choices for your business.  

Finding ways to improve energy usage can significantly impact your business’ bottom line, and it doesn’t necessarily require a complete operational overhaul. Here are three key areas to focus on when reviewing your business’ energy usage, as well as what you can do to improve it.

  1. Unplug unused electronics

If you saw a dripping faucet, you’d most likely be compelled to shut it off and save water. Though it may not be visible, the same principle applies to your electronics and appliances. Even when your electronics are not in use, if they’re plugged into an outlet, they’re using standby power and costing your business money.

The simplest way to reduce energy use by unused electronics is to install power bars that can support multiple electronics and that come with an on/off switch. Plug your computers, monitors and electronics into the power bars and turn them off at the end of the day.

After making small tweaks like this, you may want to see how your day-to-day energy usage changes. BC Hydro’s user-friendly tools let businesses see their hourly electricity use in kilowatt hours, meaning that you can compare your electricity use during the day to your use at night (when your electronics are unplugged) to determine how much you’re saving.

  1. Monitor your heating and cooling systems

BC Hydro’s online tracking tools provide information around daily usage, and can also show the impact of factors such as outside temperature on your energy use. For example, you may notice that your electricity use spikes on cooler days when the staff turns up the thermostat.

Here are a few general temperature control tips for managing your heating and cooling systems.

In the summer, you’ll want to cool your business to 24°C at the lowest when people are there. Try to avoid any mechanical cooling when no one is around if you can. Remember that heating and cooling set points need to be at least 2-3°C apart so that the air conditioner won’t automatically start and stop all the time. In the winter, program your thermostat to 21°C during business hours, and 16°C max outside business hours.

BC Hydro’s online tools allow you to compare your electricity use to previous years to see how corresponding outdoor temperatures play a role in your energy use. Don't forget to sign up for a weekly or monthly email alert to stay on track with your energy conservation goals.

  1. Hit the lights

Something as simple as turning off lights when leaving a room can make a huge difference in energy use. Take it one step further and apply task lighting to as many areas of your business as you can, making sure that certain lights are only used for specific purposes.

Install motion-activated lights so that they shut off when no one is around. Try labeling light switches so it’s clear which lights should be used when. This will reduce the number of lights that are turned on in an attempt to find the correct light switch. For long-lasting energy savings, opt for energy efficient LEDs, which can provide energy savings of about 70 per cent compared to incandescent or halogen pot lights.

Once you have re-evaluated the lighting set up throughout your business, you need to assess the impact it will have on your energy use. Log in to your account on the BC Hydro website to access electricity tracking tools that will help you estimate your projected electricity costs going forward and see whether your efforts will result in a noteworthy reduction.

Running a business comes with a lot of responsibility, and ensuring that it’s energy efficient is just one more way you can lower your business’ bottom line. BC Hydro’s energy tracking tools make it easy to track your costs and monitor your consumption, letting you put your real energy into growing your business.