We all knew another hydro rate increase was coming. Rate increases are a fact of life here in Ontario, where we’re in the second year of five continuous years of semi-annual hydro rate increases, and they’re putting the squeeze on businesses.
All businesses aim at making a profit; it’s why we are in business to begin with. We look to grow sales, increase profitability, control expenses, increase benefits to our customers and so on. Controlling expenses is always a challenge, especially when some expenses keep going up and up.
Remember the blackout August 13, 2003? The average Ontario business was paying 6.5¢ per kilowatt hour (kW/h) of energy consumed. As of May 1, 2015 the blended hydro rate (the all-in rate you pay based on consumption) for the average Ontario business will be over 15¢ kW/h. Between 2014 and 2018 the average Ontario business will see their hydro rate rise in excess of 42%.
The news is worse for businesses operating primarily during daytime hours, hydro’s on-peak and mid-peak hours. The rate for those hours is set to increase at a larger percentage than off-peak hours, further driving the blended hydro rate up. We’re told that the higher peak rates are to encourage use of hydro during off-peak hours and to encourage conservation, but it’s nearly impossible to conserve during the hours you’re closed. (Here are a few energy conservation tips for businesses.)
Depending on your business, lighting can account for 25% to 75% of hydro consumed.Depending on your business, lighting can account for 25% to 75% of hydro consumed. That’s a lot, but the good news is that lighting is also one of the easiest places for you to conserve energy. The fact of the matter is that we all need to conserve energy, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for the bottom line. In short, whenever your business conserves energy it’s a win-win scenario.
Occupancy sensors are a great start and are easily installed by an electrician. These work well for bathrooms, break rooms, stock rooms and other areas that are often unoccupied for periods during the work day. Another option is simply remembering to turn lights off when you leave a room. Encourage staff to take part in this as part of an environmental initiative. Combine this with a strong recycling program and your staff will appreciate the environmental contribution you’re making.
Natural light is a great energy saver too! If you have windows take advantage of them. Allow as much natural light to come in and limit the lighting you’re using. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save by simply keeping the blinds open and the lights off.
Dimmer switches also help conserve energy. Not all office/business lighting can be dimmed, but when the lights can be dimmed it will reduce energy consumption.
Set timers for your lights. Sometimes, in larger businesses, lights can be left on after the work day for janitorial services etc. If these services are on a schedule set timers to automatically turn the lights off after the cleaners have finished. Timers are also excellent for controlling energy consumption on outside signage. Set the timers to turn those lights off overnight, after traffic dies down, and save energy.
We all know that fluorescent lights are energy efficient, but LEDs use 50% less energy and provide better light.Finally, retrofit your facility to energy efficient lighting. By adopting new lighting technologies, such as LED, you’ll see an amazing decrease in your lighting expense. LEDs consume up to 85% less hydro when compared to older halogen and incandescent bulbs. We all know that fluorescent lights are energy efficient, but LEDs use 50% less energy and provide better light.
Find an LED supplier who is able to access the Ontario Provincial rebates currently available for lighting retrofit projects. You’ll achieve a quick return on your investment and continue to save for years to come. In fact, with the long warranties of rebate qualified LEDs, you should expect to see a return your investment several times over during the warranty period alone. In addition, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re using a lighting method free of mercury or any other toxins and pollutants.
We are facing ever increasing hydro rates, but the news isn’t all bad. The Province recognizes the need for energy conservation, particularly for businesses, and has established rebates to assist each and every Ontario business in making the move to energy efficient lighting. You’ll save money and help the environment, which should take some of the sting out of the hydro rate hike.