The question of how can I lower my electricity bill should enter your mind every time you look at one or sign the check to pay one. This is all money down the drain, and is unrecoverable. The three places to look are:
- A general energy audit, which will look at your billing rate and source of electricity, thermostats, timers and electricity usage patterns such as time of day.
- A lighting audit, which will include an LED upgrade.
- Onsite generation with a custom solar system
A general building audit covers such things as a close scrutiny of your bill itself. Oftentimes we find you may be on the wrong rate for your usage pattern, which results in a bill higher than it would otherwise need to be. When we find something erroneous, we contact the PG&E team responsible for such mistakes and get a rebate for the customer, always for more than the actual overbilling. A walk around your building with your facilities manager will show us how you manage your heating and air-conditioning temperatures, and we can discuss how to set your thermostat times to best take advantage of the time of use rates you are on. We then look at your overall operations to be sure it is keeping the lowest demand charges possible with the equipment you need to run, if changing the time of your operations would help and if your equipment has standby modes you can utilize to best keep your usage to a minimum. Training your production staff simple things can save you and that costs almost nothing. We call it energy conservation by memo.
A lighting audit will prepare a cost for replacing all of your existing fixtures with LED fixtures. They have recently come down in price to the point the payback for this type of retrofit can be less than one year. Even if you use the lights sparingly, they will pay back in two years. That is a 50% return on your investment. PG&E has zero interest loan programs called On Bill Financing (OBF) that place an amount on your bill less than the savings so that you have no down payment, savings from day one and better brighter light in the meantime. LED lighting is also conducive to the latest technology in terms of controls, so they can automatically dim near windows when not needed to be so bright, they can change colors from bright white to warm white as you see fit and they can be controlled wirelessly. The real advantage of LED lighting is that they give a brighter light without any humming or flickering which is more conducive to a good morale for your staff, and eliminates health complaints from fluorescent lighting. It also reduces maintenance costs by a large factor. Better, brighter light is going to give you higher quality products and a safer work environment. Every building we have upgraded has received rave review from the staff affected by the upgrade.
The price of solar in California has been coming down for the last 25 years, but the last 10 years has really seen a steep decline. Since the solar panels have seen constant improvement in efficiency, carports can be smaller or eliminated entirely. All of these factors, including more competition, is driving down the costs. If you haven’t looked at solar for a few years, it is time to look at it again before the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) goes away at the end of 2019. The big advantages of solar, besides being so kind to our environment, are all in cost savings and hedging against future rate increases.
Solar can eliminate all the costs associated with actual electricity usage, measured in kilo-Watt-hours (kWh). This includes the taxes. With Net Energy Metering, (NEM), excess generation from the day can be bought back at night and summer generation can be used in the winter. Solar adds value to your building without raising your property taxes. You can sell power to your tenant, even if you are the owner of the building and the business in your building. You can sell power to neighboring properties. The more you find out, the more benefits will surface from adding a solar system to your property.
When we combine all three of these processes – an audit, LED lighting and a solar system – we find we can deliver a package that will all but eliminate your electric bill with less than a two year payback in PG&E territory. Even with carports, the paybacks are less than three years. There is 100% financing available, with savings from the first month. You can take credit as an environmental leader; no one has to know you are saving so much money.
We design all of our products and processes to pay for themselves with the energy savings, with no money down required other than some loan fees and with rapid paybacks giving better than 30% returns. If you have any reasons why you still think solar is not right for you, look for an article on this website that answers your question. If you don’t find one, let us know and we will write one on that topic to be sure we get all of your questions answered.