By Nate Kessman, Vice President of Business Development, Great Eastern Energy
Taking your passion and turning it into a successful business is the gold rush of our generation. Endless opportunities await entrepreneurs and business owners of all sizes who are willing to stake their claim and convert their passion into a virtual goldmine. Whatever your passion is, there are seemingly endless ways to convert that passion into a community either online or in a brick and mortar business. Personally I find myself in small neighborhood restaurants much more often then the large chains, or buying my coffee at a place that knows my name and doesn’t just write it on my cup.
It’s the caring and passion that makes me feel at home when I’m greeted with a smile or a hug from the owner. They are passionate about what they do and are happy to share it with me.
In that spirit, I want to pass on my passion for energy to you, and in doing so make sure that your business avoids common mistakes I see, as the Vice President of a company dedicated to providing energy management services, time and time again in our industry.
Just a few simple ideas on how you can take control of both the natural gas and electricity your business consumes, while working toward a more sustainable future. Did you know that some businesses spend between 3-5 % of total operating costs on energy? Imagine the impact that cutting consumption by 10% can have on your bottom line.
Below are five strategies to help you get started as you build an energy management plan that is easily scalable to any size business.
1. Take a Hands-On Approach.
Every time you turn the lights on energy dollars are being spent. So why have only 43% of businesses with the ability to purchase energy supply from an alternative provider who could reduce and manage these costs done so? Last year’s polar vortex sent shockwaves through users of both natural gas and electricity who saw their bills increase by 30% or more.
Energy management means risk management and protection from seasonal price spikes. Maybe you haven’t found the right partner yet? Seek out an energy advisor that understands and advocates for your business. Your energy advisor should be an integral part of your business and should work with you to control costs as well as help uncover new ways to reduce usage by customizing and revisiting your plan often. If your advisor is calling once a year to “renew” it might be time to move on.
2. Benchmark Current Usage.
You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Have your advisor benchmark your current natural gas, electricity and water consumption. Benchmarking usage not only provides a baseline to compare before and after results, but as you make changes in consumption patterns it also provides a comparison to the way similar businesses in your area are using energy. These benchmarks will be extremely valuable if you set a goal to lower natural gas consumption by 10% this year. Another benchmarking target might be to look at electricity usage before and after a lighting retrofit.
3. Look at More Than Today’s Price.
It’s easy to get caught in a pricing blizzard. Why not demand more? Some clients spend countless hours searching for the lowest price only to find their agent disappears before contract expiration, leaving behind an expensive surprise in the form of a skyrocketing variable rate. A dynamic environment requires a solution built specifically around your natural gas and electricity consumption and then tailored to your individual business. For example, variable rate gas pricing can be an effective savings tool for restaurants but not an office building that is most likely using their gas for heat.
4. Eat Your Greens.
All too often we see “green energy” marketed the wrong way. Companies use images of windmills pumping clean energy directly to your door. What companies are really selling are renewable energy credits or REC’s. REC’s guarantee the offset of your energy usage somewhere else in the grid by investing in clean energy products and do not guarantee that the energy you use will be 100% renewable. The originator should also certify REC’s. For more on REC’s, please visit www.green-e.org.
5. Engage Your Employees.
Employee engagement is crucial and is often an overlooked when creating a successful energy management plan. Your employees are your foot soldiers when it comes to implementation. Start by asking for input and setting goals with the team. Then, empower your staff by appointing an energy director who can work with a designated energy team to help carry out a clearly defined energy policy within your organization, no matter how simple or complex your goals seem to be.
6. Invest in Efficiency.
Always be aware of the fact that to truly save money on energy we have to reduce consumption. Don’t be scared to invest in simple upgrades that will conserve energy. Many low cost energy reduction items such as LED light bulbs carry substantial rebates that lower their overall cost and help shorten payback periods not to mention reduce cooling costs and the environmental impact of generating electricity.
Following the tips above, reducing energy consumption by 10% will bring noticeable impact to your bottom line.
By taking an interest in developing an energy management plan and working as a team with your advisor and employees you will see the engagement and oversight that it takes to successfully manage risk and consumption.
This engagement will lead to strategies and programs that allow your business to reap the benefits that come with reduced energy consumption and a solid strategy.
Nate Kessman became the Director of Business Development at Great Eastern Energy in late 2010. Focusing on customer loyalty and service, Nate has used a team approach to help grow new markets and improve the customer experience. This has proven to be so successful that Nate was promoted to Vice President of Business Development before the end of his first year.