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9 Ways to Save Money on Your Business Energy Bills

 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Business Energy Bills


If you’ve noticed your business electric bill rising over time it’s because of these two reasons: Your consumption has gone up, the cost of the energy has risen or both. 

Commercial electric rates are priced differently than residential rates, and if you run a business it’s very likely you’ll be paying the commercial price. A commercial property, according to the US Energy Information Administration, is a retail store, restaurant, place of worship, hotel, school, office and more.

Over the last 20 years, commercial electricity rates have nearly doubled — rising from a national average of 7.5 cents to 13 cents per kWh. While there isn’t much you can do about rising electric rates, you can try to lower your usage. 

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We’ll help you find the best electricity rates in your area

“Heating and cooling is the biggest source of energy use in most homes. If you have a business, you probably have a lot more space to heat and cool, and much larger energy bills,” said Jon Reed, senior energy editor at CNET. In fact, the EIA reports that heating and cooling alone account for 32% of commercial energy consumption, the largest category of consumption for businesses. “Being strategic about how you use energy can have a major impact on your bottom line,” Reed said. 

To start reducing your usage, lowering your energy costs and boosting your bottom line, start with these nine energy savings tips. 

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We’ll help you find the best electricity rates in your area

A line graph showing how commercial energy rates have trended upwards over the past 20 years A line graph showing how commercial energy rates have trended upwards over the past 20 years

Over the last 20 years, commercial electricity rates have nearly doubled.

US Energy Information Administration

9 tips to start saving money on your business energy bills 

1. Audit your energy use

The best way to start saving on your energy bill is by understanding your current energy use. That involves seeing how many kilowatts your business consumes on a month-to-month basis, what time of day you use the most energy (and how that tracks with peak and off-peak hours) and which months. To do this, analyze at least a year’s worth of electricity bills, said Michael Kraten, director of accounting program initiatives at University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. While he recommends business owners do this themselves (or have an employee take it on), there are also energy consultants or energy brokers who could audit your electricity use for you.

A close up view of an electric meter with a store front in the background. A close up view of an electric meter with a store front in the background.

Even though business rates are lower than residential rates, your business electric bill will be higher. That’s because, more often than not, businesses will use more energy than a residence. Focusing on energy reduction is the key to saving on energy bills. 

Onurdongel/Getty

2. Install smart thermostats

You can use what you learned in an energy audit to reduce your consumption. Getting a smart thermostat, for example, can help you preprogram office temperatures to prevent heating and cooling your space when no one’s around. 

A smart thermostat is an internet-connected device that makes scheduling the use of your HVAC system easier. Heating and cooling can be turned on before anyone arrives at the office and shut down automatically as the last person leaves. The US Department of Energy says you can reduce your yearly energy costs by 10% just by setting your smart thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit for most winter days.  

Many utilities offer incentive programs called virtual power plans that automatically adjust the temperature during times of peak demand and reward you with bill credits

You can find CNET’s latest picks for best smart thermostats here.

Amazon

Amazon Smart Thermostat is the least expensive model tested. It works via the Alexa app and with Alexa voice commands. You need a compatible Alexa-enabled smart speaker or display to use voice commands, but you don’t have to enable an Alexa skill since this is an Amazon-branded product.

3. Check if your business is in a deregulated market 

Currently, 18 states across the US along with the District of Columbia have deregulated or partially deregulated energy markets. Deregulation — otherwise known as energy choice — brings retail competition to the energy market. As a result, some experts say energy choice brings lower prices and a variety of plans and providers. But it also brings confusion. That’s why it’s important to research your business energy consumption profile and talk with multiple energy providers before making a choice. 

If you choose wisely, you can save money. In energy choice markets, business owners can shop around for an energy supplier based on factors such as price per kilowatt, fixed or variable rate, the energy source (such as renewables), and length of contract. You can see if your business is located in an energy choice market by entering your ZIP code into a retail energy marketplace such as SaveOnEnergy (which is owned by Red Ventures, CNET’s parent company) or by contacting a reliable energy broker. 

Businesses and commercial properties can avoid overpaying for energy with a customized rate plan that is tailored to your property’s usage profile. Start saving on your utility costs today with a free commercial energy consultation.

*SaveOnEnergy and CNET are both owned by RedVentures. We may receive a commission if you get a quote or make a purchase through this link. 

4. Upgrade to energy efficient equipment

Older equipment such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers or other appliances can be energy wasters. Consider investing in an appliance upgrade — especially energy efficient appliances — to help offset your businesses energy costs.

“The oldest equipment is the most problematic,” Kraten said, adding that you might even earn a tax break for your investment. 

Find out which energy upgrades qualify for a tax credit, rebate or other type of incentives here.

LG

This front-loading LG model gives you about as much space as possible for a front-loading washer: 4.5 cubic feet, which is considered an extra-large capacity for front-loading models. It has many of the same desirable features as other LG models — high efficiency, reduced noise, automatic load sensor — and additionally offers a Speed Wash setting, which has many user satisfaction reviews and cleans a load of laundry in approximately 15 minutes.

This model is sturdy and is designed so a dryer can be stacked on top of it to save space. It also plays a short melody to let you know the cycle is finished. 

5. Check for ‘energy vampires’

Check for “energy vampires” — electronics that use energy even when not in active use. These devices include computers, TVs, speakers and kitchen appliances. Unplug these when not in use to save energy and lower your electric bill. For businesses that involve people using computers, ask employees to shut off devices overnight or during the weekend to save money. 

There are also devices such as smart power plugs and smart power strips that do this for you. There are plenty of options available

APC

This energy-saving surge protector from APC has one primary outlet, four outlets controlled by that outlet, and three independent outlets. So if you want your monitor and computer speakers to stay off unless your computer is on but you want to keep your printer on — so you’ll be able to print something from your phone while in the other room, for example — you can do all that from one power strip.

6. Switch to energy efficient lighting

Last year, the Department of Energy efficiency regulations effectively banned the sale of incandescent light bulbs, following through on a policy enacted by former President George W. Bush in 2007. While you will no longer be able to find these bulbs at stores, it’s likely many are still in use across the country. If your business uses these old bulbs, consider switching to LEDs, which according to one estimate can net savings between $50 to more than $150 per bulb over its lifetime.

See more energy efficient lighting options with CNET’s best LED bulbs. 

Cree

You’ve got plenty of energy saving BR30-shaped LED options in the lighting aisle. The most common choice among them are 65-watt replacement bulbs that typically put out about 650 lumens of light each. That’s a good, average number and fine for average-height ceilings with at least a few bulbs shining overhead.

7. Go solar 

Solar panels collect the sun rays and convert it into electricity. With enough solar panels, your business can offset its electricity bill partially or completely. Not only do solar panels bring energy savings, the Inflation Reduction Act brings business owners increased incentives and tax credits. Solar panels are especially useful for companies that rely on charging electric vehicles. 

CNET offers useful guides to choosing the best solar installer and best solar equipment and how to calculate your solar payback period. 

Palmetto

Palmetto Solar has strong solar equipment offerings and more robust service for after installation than most other companies, although it might cost you a bit. Palmetto offers a few tiers of service under the brand name Palmetto Protect. All customers receive third-party monitoring and proactive communication when some part of their solar system malfunctions. Palmetto also receives an A-plus from the Better Business Bureau.

8. Add a backup battery 

If your utility charges time-of-use rates during peak demand hours, that means you’ll likely see spikes in electric rates during those times. Adding backup batteries can help you overcome those energy price spikes. The idea is, when rates spike, you tap into that stored energy. 

Batteries can also power your business during a blackout and can be used to store excess solar power. Paired with a smart electric panel or hybrid solar system, you can control how and when your battery’s stored energy is used. Your business’s battery system may be eligible for a virtual power plant program, which can offer you savings. 

Check out CNET’s list of best batteries and our newest winner. 

Bluetti

Bluetti’s newest whole-home battery technology, the EP900 Home Battery Backup, is a solid option for your home’s energy needs. The EP900 system is actually an inverter stacked on top of Bluetti’s B500 battery units. 

9. Commercial heat pumps

Adding a heat pump can help you control your business’s heating and cooling costs tremendously. The DOE recently announced an accelerator program designed to help boost the technology and bring more efficient models to market. 

A heat pump saves money by providing both heating and cooling together in one HVAC system. In simplest terms, a heat pump transfers heat inside or moves heat out. They use less energy and are more efficient than electric furnaces or older air conditioner models.

A Bosch heat pump sitting in a display at a booth at CES 2024. A Bosch heat pump sitting in a display at a booth at CES 2024.

Bosch unveiled its IDS Ultra heat pump at CES 2024. The company said it can keep your home at the right temperature even when it drops to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jon Reed/CNET

Read more on heat pumps:

FAQ

Why are commercial energy prices often less expensive than residential rates?

Typically, the more of something you buy the cheaper the cost per unit. That also applies to electricity, and explains why commercial energy prices are often less expensive than residential rates. Essentially, businesses use more energy, so they get better rates from utilities.



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