Many of us have made the effort to “Go Green” in our day to day lives. People take small steps, like recycling, reducing home energy use, reducing the amount of gasoline used – or larger steps like installing solar panels that power their home and feed energy back into the grid. But what kind of steps are small businesses taking to be more environmentally friendly? The amount of energy used by an auto glass shop on a daily basis dwarfs that of the average family home, if every business takes the same energy conserving steps that their consumers are taking, it makes a bigger dent in this energy crisis we are all facing.
Ray Sands Glass has made a commitment to “going green” in ways that every small business can and we started with an energy auditor from the local power authority, who gave us some great advice. The auditor pointed out a lot of small changes we could make, and make a big difference. We got new copy and fax machines, as recommended, and put many of our other small appliances as well as our lighted sign on timers.
We also now keep all the chargers for the power tools on a timer, so they are still fully charged for the day’s work – but not drawing electricity when they don’t need to be. And surprisingly one of the biggest energy hogs we had at the shop was the old pop machine – older pop vending machines are not well insulated and the refrigerant system is not at all efficient. We spent a few dollars for the timer, and made one call to the vending machine company and those two small steps have saved us 250 kilowatts a month on our electricity consumption.
Ray Sands Glass has also put three new heaters into the shop. While they were still working, they were old and therefore energy inefficient and also more likely to break down. We would have had to replace them in a few years anyway, but replacing them today means conserving natural gas today. And we have definitely reaped the benefits in the big reduction of our natural gas bill, too.
Our latest effort is to become increasingly paperless. Right now we are looking into a program that would allow us to type work orders and schedules into the computer and they would appear in full on a screen in the shop. If we can stop using paper for schedules and work orders, we can decrease our paper usage by at least half, if not two thirds.
We plan to take a few more steps later this year, including installing new air conditioners. Our air conditioners are in about the same state that the heaters were – working, but old and inefficient. The return on the investment in new heating and cooling systems can often be seen in a few years, and as every business and home owner knows, an old system can be a money pit. With seemingly no stop to increasing fuel prices, in a few years one might not be able to afford a replacement because of the cost of running the old one.
Our last step this year will hopefully be replacing the entire lighting system in the shop, to fixtures that are more efficient and use energy efficient bulbs. While this project may take a little longer to see a return – 5 to 6 years by our calculation – we will also be eligible for an energy tax credit.
If businesses can afford to face the cost of replacing or upgrading now – then now is the time to do it. Not only are you conserving energy and resources today, you are saving on your expenses – ones that will continue to grow if you don’t take action to conserve.