Op-Ed: Focusing on Energy Efficiency for Entrepreneurs during Black History Month

Op-Ed: Focusing on Energy Efficiency for Entrepreneurs during Black History Month

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As we embark on a new decade, we should use 2020 as a foundational year to establish a vision for the future. Part of that vision should be sustainable practices to protect black communities and the rest of the world from the dangers of climate change. We can start locally by doing our part to implement smarter energy usage that will strengthen California’s black-owned businesses.

Here in North Sacramento, there are so many black community members who are leading the way with businesses that are energy-conscious, economically minded, and ultimately, sustainable for the communities that they serve.

I have the privilege of working with black business owners who are making their dream come true. It is exciting to see the progress these businesses are making in terms of saving energy. They are taking concrete steps to improve their energy use and make their businesses more sustainable, from replacing high-energy appliances to installing solar panels.

Energy efficiency provides a path for black entrepreneurs to push their businesses further by using less energy to achieve the same results. It’s a way for businesses large and small to build on their existing success and give back to their customers.

However, parsing through larger, structural efficiency changes can be difficult for business owners to do, especially small businesses. With all of the technical know-how that goes into making the upgrades, it can seem overwhelming even to energy-savvy business owners.

To any business owner who feels this way, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to face the challenge alone. Energy audits—with a trained professional who will walk through your business and make recommendations—are readily available from energy providers in most regions of California. Many businesses can qualify for them free of charge or for a low cost. Many utilities also provide a helpline for phone assistance, and businesses can request on-site energy audits conducted by energy-efficiency professionals.

There are other ways to explore energy efficiency upgrades within your business. Notably, one recent study highlights a large budget line item where energy savings can occur.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that lighting accounts for 17 percent of all electricity consumed in U.S. commercial buildings, which makes it the largest single end use of electricity in this area.

When lighting consumes so much of the monthly budget for U.S. businesses, even making small upgrades can have a profound impact on the company’s viability against competitors, not to mention the environmental contribution it would bring to the community surrounding the business.

Investing in LED bulbs as a replacement for older light fixtures is a low-cost investment with an excellent rate of return. Incandescent bulbs don’t measure up to LEDs in terms of efficiency. Traditional incandescent bulbs typically last about 1,000 hours whereas a 12-watt LED bulb can last up to 25,000 hours. Making a simple change like this is also a great way to participate in energy efficiency if you don’t own the building where your business is located. Switching to more energy-efficient bulbs will continue to benefit the business for years.

Making the choice to practice energy efficiency will be incredibly impactful in the following decade -- it will help you and your community. There has never been a better time for black entrepreneurs to get ahead in their business endeavors by using energy efficiency to their advantage. Let’s celebrate Black History Month by leading the way in creating a more sustainable and energy efficient economy in the Golden State.

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