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3 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Renewable Energy

As a small business owner, you don’t have an endless cash flow to kit out your entire office in solar panels. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have tools at your disposal to embrace renewable energy which isn’t just good for the environment, but also for your marketing and reputation. More consumers are seeking out green-minded businesses to support, and may just pay a premium to do so. If you’re a small business owner, there are six top sources at your fingertips.

Whether you own a law firm specializing in traffic collisions or a small web design software company, pinpointing renewable resources can help you lower bills, lighten your carbon footprint and attract new customers. The best choices include biofuels, wind energy, and geothermal heat pumps. They won’t all work for you or your needs, but delve a little deeper and see if renewable energy is a better match for you.

1. Biofuels

Biomass is converted to liquid fuels directly, unlike any other type of renewable source. Dubbed “biofuels,” it can be a great tool in fulfilling the needs of transportation fuels. Biodiesel and ethanol are the most common. Ethanol is basically alcohol, created by fermentation kind of like brewing beer. Right now it’s created via sugars and starch, but researchers are working on a way to make it from cellulose. Biodiesel is a combination of alcohol and oils (usually vegetable or animal) and can be used as an additive to purify diesel fuel.

There’s also interest piquing in research of liquid transportation fuels created from algae. In this process, energy from the sun is used to mix water and carbon dioxide. For companies that depend heavily on drivers and transportation, biofuel is a good place to start.

2. Wind energy

Wind energy is nothing new, since it’s been done in some capacity for several generations, but the technology behind it is recent. Wind turbines are placed on a tower where the most energy can be caught. They’re at least 100 feet above ground and catch energy with massive blades. They look like high tech windmills (because they are), and the blade takes on the role of an airplane wing. The “lift” which moves the blade is stronger than the “drag” which is the contraindicative wind.

Business owners can buy wind energy, often from local wind farms, just like they would electricity.

3. Geothermal heat pumps

These pumps tap into the constant earth temperature for HVAC. The earth maintains a steady temperature, which is warmer than the air during winter and cooler in the summer. A simple three-part system (ground heat exchanger, air delivery system and heat pump unit) works by being buried near your commercial space.

They work like regular refrigeration and heating systems, but use much less energy and save you money. It’s a good choice for any business owner looking to replace older HVAC systems. However, the purchase and installation can be a high up front cost but may offer a tax break.

Work with your CPA to determine the most cost effective way to introduce renewable energy in your business.