These Energy-Wasters are Costing Your Small Business Money – Even When You’re Closed

You turn out the lights, adjust the thermostat and shut down the computers at the end of the work day. But your small business is still using energy in ways you may never have considered.

Any electric device that’s plugged in uses standby power when it’s not in operation. These “vampire” loads can suck your electricity budget dry. In fact, ENERGY STAR® reports that standby power is responsible for $11 billion in U.S. energy costs every year.

Here’s a look at the unexpected vampire energy drains in your office, store or building, and what to do about them.

Kitchen equipment. Just because no one’s in the lunchroom doesn’t mean it isn’t using energy. Most appliances with a digital clock use standby power to keep the correct time. In fact, a microwave uses more power to run its clock than it does to heat food.

Drain these energy vampires by plugging them into a power strip you can turn off when the workday is done. If that’s too much of a hassle, you can use an advanced power strip (APS) that relies on a timer or electrical current sensor to determine when an appliance isn’t in use, and automatically turn it off.

TVs and other entertainment equipment. Do you have a television in your break room? Research shows a plasma TV can suck up more than 1,400 kilowatt hours a year, inflating your energy bill by as much as $150. Cable boxes use another 500 kw a year. But you can substantially reduce this energy drain by using an APS to shut down your equipment when your office is closed.

Chargers. Do your employees keep phone, tablet or computer chargers constantly plugged in? Try using a smart plug instead. These devices, which usually cost around $30, can be turned on and off via an app on your smartphone or tablet. A few taps on your phone can shut down an entire office’s smart plugs—and their energy-zapping chargers and other equipment—when your business is closed.

Laser printers. These devices use a surprising amount of standby power because they’re always waiting to spring into action. Consider plugging them into an APS or smart plug, or just an old-fashioned power strip, and shutting them down when they’re not in use.

Smart thermostats ensure that your furnace or air conditioner isn’t running at peak temperature when your business is closed. Today’s smart thermostats can also be operated from your smartphone, tablet or computer in case you need to adjust the temperature when you’re away from work. Consumers Energy offers small businesses instant rebates on a range of smart thermostats from manufacturers like Nest and Ecobee.

Smart lighting timers use Wi-Fi to set a schedule for turning on and off your business’s inside and outside lights. You can also use an app to shut them down if you forget to flip the switches when you leave the office.

With just a small investment in energy-efficiency technology, you can save your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year in vampire energy drains.