How Solar Energy Can Save Your Small Business Money

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How Solar Energy Can Save Your Small Business Money

Dec 11, 2019

Solar energy is hardly a new technology, but it is becoming more popular and affordable. More businesses are realizing the benefits of solar energy. Back in 2015, Walmart was one of the biggest commercial adopters of solar energy, as they added 348 solar panel installations, not 348 panels but 348 systems of solar panels. Other companies have followed suit with Apple, FedEx, and Verizon all adding solar installations. Companies large and small across the world are not only seeing the eco-friendly benefits of going solar, but also the monetary benefits. Solar energy, which ecnompasses more than just solar panels, can save your business a significant amount of money.

Outdoor Solar Lights
Depending on the size of your business and surrounding property, lights and illuminated signs might account for a large part of your energy bill. Outdoor solar lights can help reduce your monthly energy bills by replacing traditional grid-tied outdoor lights.

Outdoor solar lights use photovoltaic technology to gather solar energy from the sun and store it in batteries to be used later. These lights are usually self-contained meaning they are not connected to the electrical grid. The most common form of outdoor solar lights is a light on top of a stake that is pushed into the ground with a small solar panel on the very top. This allows outdoor solar lights to be placed anywhere they can gather sun during the day. Strategically place outdoor solar lights along pathways, throughout parking lots, or along the street to illuminate the way at night.

It is important to note how long the solar lights will run. Some models only shine for a few hours while others make run for 12. How long the light shines is dependant on the capacity of the battery and how much sun the panel absorbs. If your light has the capacity to shine for 12 hours but is falling short, try moving the light into more direct sunlight.

When purchasing outdoor solar lights it is a good idea to research the price of replacement parts. A light might be inexpensive, but if replacement parts are expensive, take a long time to ship, or are unavailable that cheap light could end up costing more over time. Take the time to find a balance between initial cost, maintenance cost, and energy bill savings.

Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters are exactly what they sound like - water heaters that use solar energy to heat water. Solar water heaters do cost more to install than traditional water heaters, but you can recoup the investment over time through reduced monthly bills. Some states or local governments also offer incentives through tax breaks or rebates. PG&E estimates that a solar water heater can reduce your cost of heating water by between 50 and 80%. However, these potential savings are highly dependant on several factors. Businesses that use a large quantity of hot water will see the most substantial savings. The size of the solar water heating system you install will also affect your potential returns. It is unlikely that a solar water heater will entirely replace your traditional water heater, but it will decrease how much you use your traditional water heater.

While you can create a solar water heater yourself, it is advised that you call an expert. There are many technical aspects of installing a solar water heater that a professional should explain. A professional contractor should create a system unique to your business for optimal results.

Roof Mounted Solar Panels
Roof mounted solar panels are what most people think of when they hear solar energy and for good reason. Solar panels, in the simplest terms, absorb sunlight, turn it into electricity, and store that electricity in batteries to use later. Specifically designed solar fuses keep the electrical system safe making solar panel systems highly dependable. The cost of installing a solar panel system is going down making the initial investment easier to swallow. Solar panels can save your business a significant amount of money on energy bills in addition to being a green energy source.

Savings and Potential Profit
EnergySage has collected data on commercial property owners in the US and found that the average property owner could reduce their energy costs by 75% with solar energy. The report also claims that the average monthly electric bill for a commercial property owner was $1,950 before the addition of solar energy. After going solar, the average commercial property owner paid $500 in monthly electric bills.

If your solar panel system is able to generate more energy than your business uses, you can sell your excess power to the electrical grid. Depending on what state your business is in, you may be guaranteed a certain pay rate when selling excess power.

Free Electricity in the Long Term
On average, businesses pay off their solar panel systems in three to seven years. After that, the money saving benefits truly kick in. Once you have recouped your initial investment, the solar panel system is essentially generating free electricity. Most solar panels last for 25 to 35 years meaning your business can generate a substantial amount of free energy. It is common for solar panels to come with long warranties, so you won’t need to worry about expensive maintenance either.

Going solar in any form can be beneficial to your business’s bottom line. Smaller projects like outdoor solar lights can make a dent in your energy bill. A solar water heater can cut down on your water heating costs. Solar panels can significantly reduce or eliminate your monthly energy bill and potentially make you money down the road. Consider adding solar energy, in some form, to your business if you are looking to save money while going green.

Meet The Author:

Nick Rojas

Nick Rojas

Nick Andrew Rojas is a business consultant turned journalist who loves working with small and medium-sized companies. He has contributed to many publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. In his spare time, he hangs out at the beach with his dog Presto.


The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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