6 ways small businesses can save during the pandemic

This content is provided by Washington Gas.

As a small business owner, you’ve likely made a lot of changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re an office that has closed, a restaurant that has moved to take-out, or a retail store that offers a mixture of options, you’ve had to make tough decisions.

Regardless of whether you’re partially open or planning to open later, saving money is a priority. One way you can lower costs is by decreasing energy use.

Here are six tips for improving your energy efficiency during the pandemic.

Understand your energy use

As your day-to-day business has changed, your energy use has likely changed, too. Luckily, a free tool will help you identify those changes.

“You’ve heard it before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” the Environmental Protection Agency says. “That’s why EPA created ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, an online tool you can use to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.”

In addition to tracking, the tool will help you set energy savings goals and see achievements.

Share goals with employees

Lowering costs is easier with a team. Encourage employees to make energy-wise choices, including leaving a smart thermostat alone and turning off lights and equipment when not in use.

You can incentivize employees by creating a checklist of energy-saving options and offering small rewards, such as products or gift cards from your business or other local businesses.

Optimize daily operations

If parts of your building are vacant and you haven’t scaled back energy use, you may be wasting money. For example, a restaurant offering only pick-up or delivery needs just the kitchen heated and cooled as usual, while dining spaces can have lighting and temperatures kept at unoccupied settings.

An office with no employees may need minimal lighting and temperature control for security and to keep any equipment safe.

Perform equipment checks

Even if you’re using your space less often, you should perform regular maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to prevent costly problems. Plan to switch out air filters and replace defective insulation, ducting, and piping.

Before turning on equipment that has not been running for a while, check that nothing looks out of place.

Switch to a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat learns patterns and adjusts air conditioning and heating automatically. Employees and customers stay comfortable when you’re open, and you save money when you’re not.

If you already have a smart thermostat, check the schedule to reflect new operating or occupancy settings. If you haven’t been in the building for a while, you might need to change setpoints for cooling and expand minimum and maximum temperatures.

Invest in efficient equipment

Outdated equipment is expensive to run because it has to work harder, so it uses more energy than newer, high-efficiency models. While the upfront cost of energy-efficient equipment may be higher than that of standard models, you’ll lower your utility and operating costs over time.

Plus, through October, Maryland businesses can save more than $7,000 on qualified models, including boiler systems, water and space heaters, and food service equipment. Additionally, applications for rebates less than $10,000 will be automatically pre-approved.

Whether you are buying new equipment, planning a major renovation, or preparing for construction, Washington Gas can help you save energy.

Additionally, if your business is having a hard time, the resources on Washington Gas’ COVID-19 response page can help. Bookmark the page to stay up to date, as the company continues to support the community throughout the pandemic.

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