Energy efficiency is good for business

18. února 2013 v 4:23 |  solar photovoltaic system
Small business owners are always looking for ways to save on unnecessary expenses and capitalize on profits. Watching the bottom line is a crucial and necessary task.

Still many business owners don't think about energy savings at the office like they do at home. But many are missing the opportunity for monthly savings.

And there's help out there not only to improve businesses energy savings, but to help business owners get the latest information on energy savings opportunities and how to market those efforts to customers.

Through a $250,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, Lewis and Clark County is offering a $1,500 grant program to help businesses offset energy efficiency upgrades.

Laura Erickson is the county grant coordinator and oversees the Tri County Business Efficiency Program.

The program is very simple. It is available for businesses located in Jefferson, Broadwater and Lewis and Clark counties. To qualify, you have to have an energy audit done (NorthWestern Energy does audits for free), which shows that upgrades could help your business save money. Then you have to dedicate at least $100 toward the upgrades to be eligible for the $1,500 grant money, Erickson said.

So far 27 businesses in the three counties have participated in the program. For some, the money has gone to offset much larger energy-upgrade expenses, for others the money has gone toward simple fixes like updating light bulbs and fixtures. However, the consistent result is that the upgrades wind up saving money in monthly expenses, Erickson said.

The process to apply for the grant money is really as simple as it sounds. If you own a business and want to save money on a monthly basis and need a bit of help to get some energy efficiency upgrades, call NorthWestern to schedule an energy audit and then call Erickson. She'll walk you through it from there. Some businesses have used the money to offset contractor expenses, some have used it to go to the local hardware store and buy light bulbs.

Erickson has enough money left from the three-year EPA grant to help about 100 more businesses. The county is in the second year of the grant, so time is running out.

Along with the business efficiency program, the EPA grant also helped Jefferson, Broadwater and Lewis and Clark counties start the Tri-County Green Business Program, which kicked off this month.

The Green Business Program provides two major benefits for participating businesses, said Emily Post, who runs the program. It helps business better market themselves as energy-efficient companies and provides a network of energy-efficiency educational opportunities.

The first Green Business Program was held last week at the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce and 25 businesses participated, Post said.

Signing up for the Green Business Program begins with a call to Post to schedule a consultation, then a free energy audit. The business then needs to act on the recommendations from the audit. Once that's complete, the business produces an environmental policy statement and applies to be Green Business Certified. Post helps prospective business owners through the entire process.

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