Every year when the cold weather hits, your energy bills heat up. You already know the obvious, inexpensive things you can do to keep the cold air out, like sealing leaks around windows and doors. But there are other innovative ways to freeze your energy usage in the winter without busting your budget.
Here are our top ways to lower your electric and gas bill during the coldest months.
- Get an energy assessment. Energy audits can help you pinpoint which energy-efficiency measures will save you the most. Make sure to ask for rebates or even free upgrades that lower your costs even more. Enroll in Consumers Energy’s Small Business Assessment Program here.
- Install a smart thermostat. For an initial investment of $100 to $250, or $69 to $149 when Consumers Energy’s instant rebates are taken into account, you can install a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat that can save 20 percent or more on your energy bill. These thermostats do much more than simply raising the temperature when your business is operational and lowering it when it’s closed. They can be operated from your smartphone, tablet or computer, or can hook up to voice services like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home Mini. Some smart thermostats have room sensors that can detect hot and cold areas throughout your building and adjust the temperature accordingly. These high-tech thermostats can also learn the temperatures you like and create a personalized schedule for your business.
- Use apps to determine employees’ temperature preferences. Research shows that more than half of employees are unhappy with the temperature in their workplace at least several times a month. That can have a significant impact on their productivity. A new generation of apps, including Comfy, Vector Occupant and CrowdComfort, allow employees to report if an area is too cold or too warm. That lets managers make quick adjustments to a smart thermostat in the problem zone.
- Swap out energy-inefficient lightbulbs. Shorter winter days means you can’t rely as much on sunshine for free, natural lighting. But simply replacing your incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs can save you $80 over the life of the bulb. These efficient bulbs also last up to 15 times longer than an incandescent, meaning you’ll devote less time to changing bulbs and more time to work. Consumers Energy offers small businesses instant rebates on a wide range of LEDs, with many bulbs starting at just $0.99.
- Give your furnace some TLC. Changing furnace filters at least every three months will help your furnace run more efficiently, which saves energy. And sealing and insulating ducts will reduce your energy use by 20 percent or more. It’s also a good idea to tour your office or building and make sure your heating vents aren’t obstructed. In seldom-used spaces like conference rooms, consider closing the vents and then opening them before a meeting.
- Use area rugs and curtains or shades. If you have wood or tile floors, they can feel cold in the winter. Rugs can solve that problem. Installing heavy curtains or shades rather than blinds can help insulate windows during the nighttime when your business is closed and temperatures drop.