As of 2015, 2,933 large commercial businesses employing more than 500 employees currently call Canada home. More than a third of these companies are located in Ontario, with an additional 400+ such companies doing business in Alberta. While large commercial companies account for only 0.3% of the businesses in Canada, this seemingly tiny sliver of the pie employs 9.7% of Canada’s workforce.
While these titans of industry play an out-sized role in shaping the economy of Canada, this influence comes at a cost: specifically, a massive electricity and natural gas costs.
While hard numbers are hard to come by, given how small commercial companies that would fall under the definition of “medium businesses” don’t draw nearly as much attention as small businesses and large companies, it’s believed that such businesses use between 30,000 and 65,000 kWh of electricity per year, though this value may vary a great deal depending on the nature of the business. Energy for large businesses can be costly if they don’t review their options correctly.
And in many cases, the amount of natural gas consumed by small commercial companies can dwarf electricity consumption. This should make one thing clear: Even a modest improvement in energy efficiency can save a great deal of money.
How Large Commercial Companies Can Reduce Electricity and Natural Gas Usage
A 2012 study by Natural Resources Canada showed that space heating and cooling accounted for more than 50% of the total energy used by Canadian businesses. Given the relatively narrow source of this energy consumption—air conditioners and furnaces—a large commercial company can significantly reduce its overall energy costs by replacing aged, inefficient HVAC systems, air conditioners, furnaces, and boilers with new, energy-efficient systems.
Given the scale at which these companies operate, often with multiple sites—or even dozens of them—the initial outlay may be disconcertingly large. But given the scale of the energy consumption involved, decreasing energy usage by even a few percents can save hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars within a few years.
In the United States, the EPA found that the use of an online energy usage auditing tool by large commercial organizations translated into an energy savings of 2.4% per year, on average. Over a period of three years, this reduction translated into savings of:
- $120,000 for a 46,500 square metre office building.
- $140,000 for a 75,000 square metre school district.
- $2.5 million for a 500-site retail chain.
- $4.1 million for a 100-site hotel chain.
The lesson is that even small improvements pay large dividends for large commercial operations. And while half of energy used by companies goes towards environmental control, it’s important not to overlook other opportunities for reducing energy consumption. Some approaches are more structural in nature, such as:
- Replacing any old or inefficient wall, flooring, and roof insulation.
- Replacing worn weather stripping around exterior doors and windows.
- Replacing single-pane windows with energy-efficient double- or triple-pane windows, and installing blinds for summer months.
- Using programmable thermostats to shut off air conditioning and heating when it’s not needed.
- Replacing badly outdated commercial equipment and appliance with new models, such as computers, air circulation systems, manufacturing equipment, tools, coolers and freezers, ovens, and so on.
- Installing LED lighting and automatic occupancy sensors that automatically shut off lights in unused rooms.
- Developing energy saving training for employees. Such programs instill and reinforce basic behaviours such as shutting off lights, closing exterior doors and windows, checking to make sure bathroom faucets are shut off, choosing reasonable thermostat settings, etc. While these may seem extremely basic or even juvenile, it’s important to remember that small changes on a large scale have a significant impact on a large commercial company’s bottom line, as shown by the EPA study mentioned above. As a bonus, such employee programs can be implemented with little to no overhead cost.
Choosing the Best Energy Plan for a Large Commercial Company
Many energy providers offer electricity and natural gas plans which are specially crafted for large commercial companies, such as load following plans that minimize exposure to volatility in the energy market, and block pricing plans, which strike a balance between predictability and the opportunity to take advantage of lulls in the market.
However, choosing the plan that is right for your organization can be a difficult and challenging process. To learn more about the special options currently available to large commercial organizations, contact Energyrates.ca for a free consultation by calling us at 1-855-635-9608, or by emailing us through our contact form.