How going “green” can help you cut the costs of doing business

Tips, opportunities and incentives for businesses to save on energy costs

At their East Side Mario's location on Lansdowne Street West, Dianne and Matthew Kraft received $4,529 in incentives through Peterborough Distribution Inc.'s Retrofit program for energy-efficient lighting (photo courtesy of Matt Kraft of East Side Mario's)
At their East Side Mario's location on Lansdowne Street West, Dianne and Matthew Kraft received $4,529 in incentives through Peterborough Distribution Inc.'s Retrofit program for energy-efficient lighting (photo courtesy of Matt Kraft of East Side Mario's)

Now is a good time for businesses to be thinking about cutting costs through increased energy efficiency. The time change last Sunday means that we will be turning on our lights earlier in the evening, and while we are enjoying this last bit of mild weather we are aware that as winter approaches, so do higher heating costs.

GreenUP’s Energy Efficiency Services department is your community resource for understanding the range of conservation options available to your business. First and foremost, it is important to remember that simple awareness of your energy use habits is the cheapest and quickest way to have an impact on your bottom line. Behavioural changes can help your business save as much as 3% of your total energy consumption.

These include things like turning off lights in unoccupied rooms and being vigilant about temperature control and efficient water use. It is also worthwhile to review the settings on your facility’s automation systems. Adjusting set points on boilers, water heaters, chillers, AC systems, lighting, and thermostat schedules for maximum efficiency is another source of potential savings.

Once you have made wise energy use an important part of your business culture and are ready to take efficiency to the next level, the Ontario government has a Small Business Energy Savings Plan to help you do it. The Ministry of Energy is using the plan to promote the government’s commitment to business conservation programs.

According to the ministry’s website, conservation “is the cleanest and most cost-effective energy resource; it offers consumers a way to reduce their energy bills, and it reduces the need to build expensive new generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.”

The plan outlines a five-point strategy to provide small businesses with the resources and incentives they need to upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances and equipment, or consider undertaking substantial building upgrades that will conserve heat. The five points of the plan are as follows:

  • Promoting the use of energy managers who can perform assessments and help businesses carry out energy-efficiency and conservation projects
  • Marketing business conservation programs which include incentives for energy audits, retrofits and lighting replacements
  • Enhancing business conservation programs with increased rebates and a simplified application process
  • Working to make on-bill financing available to help small businesses finance the upfront costs of energy conservation projects
  • Providing long-term sustainable funding for conservation initiatives.

The funding will take be made available through two new programs which will both run from 2015-2020. The Conservation First Framework will support the delivery of electricity conservation programs, and the Demand Side Management Framework will support the delivery of natural gas conservation programs.

Locally, Peterborough Distribution Incorporated (PDI) has two Save ON Energy programs that provide incentives for businesses to upgrade to more energy-efficient lighting. The Small Business Lighting program offered a free assessment to identify possible energy savings and up to $1500 in energy-efficient retrofits, including all equipment and labour.

Through this program, St. James United Church received an interior lighting retrofit which reduced consumption by 10,326 kilowatt-hours per year. The result was an annual savings of approximately $850.

Sunshine Homes, a non-profit, community-based organization that provides subsidized housing, administers a complex of fourteen buildings on Crystal Drive. The fact that each building is separately metered meant that the organization could apply for a Small Business Lighting incentive for each building. At the end of the project energy consumption had been reduced by 45,074 kilowatt-hours per year, a projected annual savings of $4,500.

The Save ON Energy Retrofit program is designed to assist business owners with financial incentives for more substantial efficiency upgrades. The Retrofit is a cost-share program, under which businesses may receive up to 50% cost-share funding for eligible projects. Projects can include lighting and controls, unitary AC, alternative energy measures, high-efficiency motors or pumps, fans, refrigeration, and more.

Dianne and Matthew Kraft, who own the East Side Mario’s restaurant on Lansdowne West, received $4,529 in incentives from PDI under the Retrofit program to complete a lighting conversion project with a total cost of $11,352. The restaurant’s energy consumption was reduced by 62,247 kilowatt-hours per year, with annual saving of approximately $8,100.

Every good business owner understands that the weak link in any profit margin is management. Every opportunity to save on costs should be explored.

If you are interested in learning more about local opportunities for your business to save energy please contact Henry Bakker, GreenUP’s business coordinator, at, or call him at 705-745-3238 ext. 207.

For more information on the Ministry of Energy’s plan, Helping Small Businesses Save Energy, visit their website at

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For more than 30 years, Peterborough GreenUP has been central and eastern Ontario's leading environmental organization focused on education, sustainability, and stewardship. GreenUP is a non-profit charitable organization and an active community organization that offers dozens of programs and services to those living in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes. For more information, visit