Mike W., a small business owner, had a problem. Both of his employees smoked, and since his business was located in a small strip mall, they couldn’t smoke in the front of the building. Consequently, they were going out the back door to smoke on their breaks. The problem was that the back door had an automatic locking feature, so they had to prop it open. In the summer, heat would blast in through the crack. In winter cold air would drop the temperature. As a result, his store became uncomfortable twice a day and the electric bill was outrageous.
This story illustrates how our habits and our employees' habits can cost us money every day. Mike couldn’t make any capital improvements to his store since he is leasing. So, he decided to find other ways to reduce his energy consumption. He consulted with an electrician. Here are some of his solutions:
“The new rule became to make sure lights and electrical appliances and the tools were turned off when we weren’t using them and when we left for the night. Not the security lights, of course, but everything else. Saving money on the electric bill at the store was a matter of taking little steps every day.”
Mike had an electrician upgrade all of his lights to newer CFL and LED lights, including some ambiance lighting and drop lights. "The results were fantastic. It didn’t just save on my electric bill. It actually increased my business because the store looks great. People who come to the store stay longer, which means they spend more money.”
“This was a big step for us, and a tough one. We were so used to printing things that I think we were just printing because we could. We started using email instead of mailing invoices and would call when invoices were 30 days past due. I have an employee with a great phone manner who has an exceptional collection rate, so that helped me a lot."
A ceiling fan and Smart thermostat
“Ceiling fans don’t cool a room, but the air flow makes it seem cooler. We installed a ceiling fan and the results were pretty dramatic. We were able to actually turn the air conditioning up a couple of notches and no one noticed. I added a Nest thermostat and even a security camera, and my bills are actually quite a bit lower."
And finally, Mike even solved the problem of the back door draft. He offered his employees five extra minutes of break time twice a day so they could walk out the front door and away from the ‘no smoking’ zone. “I basically shifted what I was paying in electricity to wages, but the amount of goodwill this generated was fantastic, and the store is so much more comfortable,” he said. “My next offer is going to be to pay them a bonus at the end of the year of they quit smoking.”