Back in mid-October, we published the post, “Three Ways Funeral Homes Can Reduce Costs–Without Impacting Customer Service”. You may want to revisit it before reading this supplemental post, focused on one of the three ways to reduce overhead mentioned there: cutting energy costs. It’s perhaps the easiest and most affordable way to reduce overhead (without impacting customer service).
Let’s first look at some of the easiest ways to lower your monthly energy bills. In the Harvard University online article, “Top 5 Steps to Reduce Your Energy Consumption” the authors offer some of the simplest ways to lower energy costs. All five of their suggestions can be implemented in an afternoon
- Shut down computers. Don’t put them to sleep or tell them to hibernate; instead shut them off completely before you leave the office.
- Select the right lightbulbs. While some advocate switching to LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy and last 35% longer than incandescent bulbs you should be aware that LEDs can cause headaches and other health-related problems. Also, consider using dimmer switches – but not with incandescent bulbs, as that actually reduces energy efficiency.
- In addition to turning off your computer(s), you should also unplug all idle electronics: scanners, printers and microwaves. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the total electricity consumed by idle electronics equals the annual output of 12 power plants.
- Make it possible to shut down all electronics at once by using a power strip. Flipping the one switch on the strip effectively unplugs each appliance from the wall, preventing phantom energy loss in one motion. Think about using a “smart power strip” instead of a traditional one. Its circuitry will detect any changes in an appliance’s consumption and cuts the power to that outlet.
- Turn off lights when leaving. This one’s a real ‘no-brainer’, but there are complicating factors (as in what kind of light bulbs you’re using and how long you’ll be out of the room). For more on this issue, read the U.S. Department of Energy’s “When to Turn Off Your Lights”. You may want to use automatic lighting controls like timers and sensors.
Other things you can do to cut energy costs include:
- Installing a tankless or “on-demand water heater. If that’s not possible, be sure you insulate the tank of your existing water heater. Insulating hot water pipes will cut down on heat loss. It can even raise water temperature 2°F–4°F hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing you to lower your water temperature setting.
- Replacing furnace and air conditioning filters regularly. Energy Star advises you check filters every month and (at the minimum) change the filters every 3 months. (A dirty filter slows down air flow causing the system to work harder— wasting energy.)
- Installing ceiling fans to more effectively circulate heated (or cooled) air throughout your facility.
- Check all weather stripping every year and replace where necessary.
- Replace single-pane windows with double-paned ones. Doing so can save you hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs (Source).
Start Right: Get a Professional Energy Audit
While it’s useful to begin cutting energy costs by implementing some or all of the above suggestions; it may make more sense for you to personally conduct an energy audit–or to hire a professional to look into energy consumption patterns in your funeral home. Doing so will help identify energy-saving (and money saving!) opportunities to help you reduce overhead.
A commercial energy audit can cost you, depending on the size of your facility and the scope of the audit being conducted. Here in California, Pacific Gas & Electric provides valuable information and access to resources related to cutting energy costs for both residents and businesses. Take, for example, “Energy Audit Tools that Can Help Any Size Business”. They also offer no-cost energy assessments to California businesses; which may also be true for your state. To find out, search online for “no-cost energy assessments” and the name of your state.
Cutting Energy Costs: a Big Issue for Business Owners
If you’re concerned about energy consumption and costs, you’re not alone. According to the September, 2017 Harvard Business Review article, “Reducing Their Energy Costs and Building Resilience”, close to 90% of executives feel significant pressure to reduce their energy spend, and more than 80% felt fluctuating energy prices are causing them quite a challenge. Being in good company is a fine thing: but working together with other business owners to make significant changes in our nation’s energy usage is better. Let’s all make a commitment to cutting energy costs (and consumption) in 2018.