Four Unexpected Benefits of Energy Efficiency for Small Businesses

It’s well known that improving your small business’ energy use can reduce your utility bills. But energy efficiency can have some other surprising financial benefits as well. Here are four unexpected ways energy conservation makes good sense—and cents—for small businesses.

  1. Positive PR. When companies as big as Walmart® and DuPont tout their green practices, you know energy efficiency has gone mainstream. These days, telling people how you’re trying to improve the environment is simply good business. A new report found that 88 percent of Americans believe being a good steward of the earth is very important. And 71 percent consider environmentalism when they’re shopping. This translates into profits: according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, companies that publicize their sustainability efforts have a greater return on assets than less-green companies.
  2. A healthier work environment. Energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioners and ventilation systems help purify the air in an office, store, medical facility or building—and that can result in better employee health. One study found that building retrofits that improve the indoor environment reduce communicable respiratory diseases between 9 and 20 percent, and allergies and asthma by 18 to 25 percent. Other research shows that better lighting design results in 27 percent fewer headaches for workers. Plus, more insulation and energy-efficient double- or triple-paned windows can block out distracting noise from the outside. All of this can translate into happier, more engaged workers. Research shows that employees of green companies are, on average, 16 percent more productive than their non-green counterparts.
  3. Safer kids and happier parents. Small businesses that cater to children, such as daycare centers or pediatrician offices, benefit by replacing their incandescent lights with LEDs. Unlike traditional lighting, LEDs don’t contain mercury, meaning they’re less dangerous when they’re within the reach of tiny hands.
  4. Better décor. Every retail store or restaurant knows the importance of an attractive space. But even if your business doesn’t rely much on walk-in customers, it can still benefit from an inside or outside remodel. LEDs are an inexpensive way to spruce up your storefront and workspace and save energy at the same time. A 15-watt LED bulb can emit as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb, and LEDs lasts 15 times as long as incandescent bulbs. Plus, LEDs are now available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and colors. Many energy companies offer rebates for energy-efficient lighting, making a lighting redesign an inexpensive and effective way to draw attention to your business. Consumers Energy offers instant rebates and free shipping on a wide range of LED light bulbs in the Small Business Marketplace.

If you don’t own your own building, sharing these tips with your landlord can offer a strong inducement for energy-efficiency upgrades. After all, happier tenants are less likely to leave—making energy efficiency good business for everyone.