Three operational changes that'll save you money instantly

Image of cafe workers with laptop computer
A lot of smaller businesses aren't in the position to do major energy efficient upgrades, even if the long-term savings are substantial. But there are plenty of free ways to save, with changes in behaviour at the top of the list.

When a retrofit isn't in the budget, there are still plenty of free ways to save

Replacing old lighting technology with newer, more energy-efficient bulbs and lamps is a sure-fire way to save. But bigger upgrades like these aren't always in the budget. Operational changes, which are simple changes in behaviour, are one of the easiest and quickest ways to put money back in your bank account.

Here are three ways you can save money in minutes. Best of all, they cost you nothing, just a bit of time:

Embrace task lighting, and refrain from turning on all lighting for prep before beginning of shift

Let's say you're a prep cook at a bakery. You start early, at 5 a.m., which is about three hours before your colleagues arrive to start their day. Rather than turning on all of the lights when you arrive, simply turn on the lighting required to complete your task. For instance, if you're working away in the back of house kitchen, there's no need for the front of house to be fully lit. If the bakery doesn't open its doors until 8 a.m., you're wasting three hours worth of electricity.

The same thinking can be applied to an office environment. If you get to the office at 6:30 a.m., well ahead of most of your colleagues who start at 8:30 a.m., avoid using ceiling fixtures that light entire rooms. Use task lighting, such as a desk lamp, instead. Don't waste two hours worth of electricity illuminating the staff room, kitchen, boardroom and reception areas. Remember, every kilowatt-hour you conserve will save you $0.094, or just shy of 10 cents.

Reduce standby power; unplug equipment when it's not in use

Chances are your business has a fair share of stuff that's drawing energy when you're not looking. Standby power, which is power that's drawn even when you're not using a piece of equipment or an appliance, can cost you.

As a rule of thumb, if your equipment has a timer, clock, displays, or little blinking lights, it's using standby power. And for items like mobile devices and laptop computers, leaving chargers plugged in all the time uses standby power too.

Neglecting your lights will wreak havoc on their efficiency

A fixture's light output (which is measured in lumens) can be reduced by 30% to 50% if it isn't clean. Dirty bulbs and lamps also overcompensate for filth by operating at a higher than normal temperatures, shortening their lifespan. A cleaning routine is an easy way to get the most out of your lights.

If you work in an office environment or lease space, talk to your landlord or property manager about establishing a cleaning routine, or better yet, build it into your maintenance agreement. If you're responsible for maintenance and upkeep, make sure you take the proper safety precautions before you do the dirty work yourself.