Some time ago I wrote a post on professional practice management suggesting a few tips for surviving the difficult economy as a micro-enterprise. In the mean time I have been writing blogs about the value of preventive maintenance and how to squeeze the last dollar from existing operations. It occurred to me that all entrepreneurs whether you are a start up or existing professional practice can benefit by using the same principles.
Energy costs account for 30% – 50% of all building maintenance expenses. The primary energy drain is from Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), followed closely by lighting. If you have your own professional practice such a medical professional, Attorney, CPA etc. and either own or rent a building there is a very good chance you are missing an opportunity to improve your bottom line. Poorly maintained equipment requires more energy to operate and does not last as long. Some suggestions for saving energy as well as lowering your carbon footprint include:
- Have all HVAC equipment serviced quarterly. Service should include changing filters, vacuuming coils, corrosion checks. HVAC units depend on heat exchange to operate. Any thing that inhibits this exchange will cause the unit to draw more energy to operate. The cost is minimal compared to replacing the actual unit and proper preventive maintenance will also extend the units lifespan.
- Check building or office interior for air flow problems. These include missing weather stripping on door or windows, missing insulation in the walls or ceiling, doors that do not close properly. It is not difficult to do and once again the costs of fixing problems is minimal compared to the cash flowing out the door because the A/C is running all day and night. Ask you local infrared camera business to perform a building inspection, I promise you the results will surprise you.
- Check all personal computers as well as office machines for dust buildup around the fans at the back of the machines. Not only will this cause the machines to wear faster and produce more heat but it will also attract moisture which causes corrosion which can result in lost data or quirky operations.
- Switch to energy efficient lights and install motion sensors that turn off the lights when that part of the office is not being used.
- Power down all medical equipment when use is not planned and turn off office equipment such as copiers, faxes (how many faxes do you receive at 3 in the morning)when you leave the office at night. All those little LED displays you see in the office draw power.
- Consider a 4 day work week (10 hours per day) if State law allows for this. Latest surveys indicate this is good for your customers as well as your staff
Many professional practices are considered micro-enterprises because they have less that 5 employees. The economic situation virtually demands that all capital expenditures be delayed as long as possible or not at all. Taking care of office equipment or other assets will lengthen the useful lifecycle of most assets as well as prevent cash flow depletion. This include everything from PCs to plumbing to roofs. The concept of preventive maintenance is to check for problems before they become major repairs or require replacement. In a small practice it should be easy to get everyone on board and to help because the money you save may be saving their job.
This may be a new concept for some professionals, but customers have a choice of who they purchase services from. A well maintained office looks and feels professional it may also be used as a marketing tool for the increasing number of consumers looking for green businesses. More on how to make your professional practice go green will be posted in the coming weeks.
Share with us your successes in lowering energy costs.
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