When we discuss the Canadian economy in Canada, much of the focus is on large businesses and industrial firms. However, the truth of the matter is that Canada’s economy is largely reliant upon the success of small businesses that employ fewer than 100 employees. Of the 1.17 million businesses in Canada that had employees as of December 2015, 1.14 million (97.9%) of them were small businesses.
This is why it’s critical for small businesses to have an in-depth understanding of how they use electricity and natural gas, how to cut consumption, and what their energy options are.
Small Business Energy Consumption
While the details may vary from province to province, roughly half of Canada’s small businesses are located in Ontario, and thus much of the data about small business energy usage focuses on that province.
A 2012 Natural Resources Canada study shed some light on how Ontario small businesses consume energy. The breakdown was as follows:
- Space Heating: 43%
- Auxiliary Equipment: 22%
- Lighting: 10%
- Water Heating: 9%
- Space Cooling: 9%
- Auxiliary Motors: 7%
In this breakdown, “auxiliary” is a catchall for miscellaneous equipment that typically related directly to the services provided by the businesses, such as repair equipment in automotive garages, manufacturing equipment in factories, and so on.
What the breakdown makes clear is that environmental control accounts for a shocking percentage of total electricity and natural gas consumption in small businesses: more than 60%. While small business owners are likely on the lookout for visible culprits for costly energy bills, such as lights unnecessarily being left on, these only account for a tenth of total consumption, whereas heating and cooling account for six times as much consumption.
This breakdown makes it clear that while upgrading auxiliary equipment and lighting can cut energy usage, upgrading heating and cooling equipment—and identifying sources of heat loss or absorption—should likely be the area of first concern.
How Small Businesses Can Conserve Electricity and Natural Gas
There are a number of ways small businesses can lower their energy usage, both by changing employee behaviour and by addressing equipment and structural concerns.
- Replace building insulation.
- Ensure that water heaters and pipes are properly insulated.
- Ensure that heating and cooling ductwork is properly insulated.
- Check that weather stripping is in good condition.
- Install and use blinds during the summer.
- Install programmable thermostats which allow you to schedule when to run heating and cooling.
- Replace old heating and cooling systems with new, energy-efficient models.
- Replace old equipment, such as electric tools, manufacturing equipment, computer systems, kitchen equipment, refrigeration systems, and so on.
- Replace incandescent or older fluorescent systems with new LED-based lighting.
- Install lighting sensors that automatically turn off lights when employees are not present.
- Create energy conservation guidelines for employees that remind them to turn off unnecessary lights, shut off water faucets in bathrooms, set thermostats appropriately, and so on.
- Shut off computer systems when employees are not present. Install power strips that can be manually shut off, or purchase smart power strips which can automatically shut off unused equipment.
Following these guidelines can make a significant impact on your small business’s electricity and natural gas costs.
Want to save even more money for your small business?
If you want to save even more money on your business energy plan, check out our convenient energy rate comparison form above. Just enter your business’s postal code, and provide a couple more pieces of information about your energy needs, and you will have instant access to the electricity and natural gas plans currently available in your area.