In Canada, there are more than 21,400 small commercial businesses employing between 100 and 499 employees, with more than half of these being located in Ontario and Alberta. While these businesses may comprise only 1.8% of the businesses operating in Canada, they employ a far more significant percentage of Canada’s workforce: roughly 19.8% as of June 2016.
While these commercial operations are capable of serving far larger customer bases than small businesses, there is a key consequence of operating at this scale: 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.
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 Small Commercial Companies Can Save Money on Electricity and Natural Gas
A recent study by Natural Resources Canada found that more than 60% of the total energy used by businesses was consumed by environmental control processes: space heating, space cooling, and water heating. This figure can be greatly reduced by replacing old, inefficient furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, and water heaters with modern energy efficient appliances.
Additional savings can be obtained by addressing common structural and behavioral issues that waste energy and money:
- Replacing or improving old or ineffective building insulation.
- Making sure that water heaters, hot water pipes, and HVAC ductwork are properly insulated.
- Replacing worn weather stripping.
- Installing double-pane windows.
- Installing and using blinds during warm summer months.
- Installing and using a programmable thermostat to only run heating or cooling systems when necessary.
While the majority of energy used by small commercial enterprises is consumed by HVAC systems and water heaters, more than a third of electricity and natural gas expenditures are consumed by specialized equipment (computers, tools, fabricators, industrial equipment, etc.) and lighting.
The amount of energy used by these systems can also be reduced by doing the following:
- Replace aging equipment with modern appliances. While it may not be immediately evident, some thought will show that businesses in almost every commercial sector utilize specialized equipment that may be overdue for replacement or upgrade. For instance, in restaurants, such equipment may include refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. Obviously, it’s unlikely that your budget will allow for the replacement of all such equipment. But try and identify what pieces of equipment are the largest consumers of energy, and do the math to see if it’s time for replacement.
- Install LED or fluorescent lighting.
- Install proximity sensors for lighting that will automatically switch off lights in unoccupied rooms.
- Shut off computer systems and other equipment when not in use. Where appropriate, use power strips which can be shut off manually at the end of the day, or purchase smart power strips which can do so automatically.
- Train employees to save energy. Basic practices such as turning off unnecessary lights, closing doors, shutting off water faucets, and choosing appropriate thermostat settings can save a great deal of energy and money over time, with little to no implementation cost.
There are many opportunities for small commercial companies to mitigate excessive energy usage, as long as the necessary time is taken to identify problems and remedy them.
How Small Commercial Businesses Can Save Even More Money
As discussed above, the amount of energy consumed is a determining factor in how much a company spends on electricity and natural gas. But the other determining factor is the energy rate paid by the company. Retail energy providers offer low, competitive rates for electricity and natural gas that may significantly undercut the local regulated rate. If you would like to find out what energy plans are currently available in your area, check out our energy rate comparison form above.
However, many large energy providers also offer energy plans specifically tailored to the needs of small commercial companies, such as load following plans and block pricing plans. But identifying the plan that’s right for your business can be a complicated process.
To learn more about what options are right for you, contact Energyrates.ca directly for a free consultation using our convenient contact form, or by calling us at 1-855-635-9608.