High utility bills are here to stay – how can you respond? 

In 2022, electricity bills for US businesses jumped the most since 1981, gaining 15.8% from the year prior. Over the same period, natural gas prices have more than doubled. The war in the Ukraine combined with an increase in economic activity after the pandemic led to fuel shortages which in turn increased utility prices.

Higher utility prices are placing an additional burden on businesses operating expenses and a respite from these higher prices aren’t expected anytime soon. To make things worse, the federal government expects the price of electricity to continue to rise well into 2023.

Higher utility prices can have a significant impact on businesses. Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores for example heavily depend on  electricity and gas to operate. Higher utility prices can affect these businesses by:

Increasing operating costs: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores that see an increase in their utility bills will have to pay more to keep their lights on, refrigerate their products, and keep their customers comfortable, which can eat into their profit margins.

Decreasing profit: Higher utility bills can make it harder for restaurants and grocery/convenience stores to invest in new equipment or hire additional staff.

Reducing competitiveness: Competitors who may be using more energy efficient equipment or implementing efficient controls will have lower operating costs, allowing them to offer more competitive prices and attract more customers.

Making budgeting more difficult: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores are used to planning their expenses based on previous bills, but with an increase in prices, it can be difficult to predict future utility bills and budget accordingly

How can businesses reduce their utility bills?

While higher prices are here to stay, there are many ways in which restaurants and grocery/convenience stores can save energy use and reduce their utility bills, including:

Energy efficiency upgrades: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores can invest in energy-efficient equipment, such as new HVAC systems, new refrigeration systems, LED lighting etc., which can help reduce electricity and gas consumption and lower utility bills.

Temperature control: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores can use smart thermostats to control the temperature indoors and to setback temperatures at night when employees and/or customers are not present. 

Maintain equipment: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores can make sure that heating and cooling systems are maintained properly, are running efficiently and are not over working.

Lighting: Restaurants and grocery/convenience stores can use natural light as much as possible and install motion sensors or timers to control lighting in areas that are not in use.

Employee education: Restaurants can educate their employees about energy-saving practices and encourage them to implement these practices in their daily routines.

All of the above energy savings strategies have existed for a long time, however very few businesses are actually taking advantage of these.  Implementing most of these strategies takes away precious time that could otherwise be utilized to serve customers and the business. Major upgrades need capital expenditure that could be hard to allocated given higher interest rates and other priorities. Ensuring equipment is maintained properly requires deep knowledge of the equipment at hand, knowledge thats beyond most business owners today.

Monaire can reduce utility bills by up to 30% with $0 capital expenditure

HVAC and refrigeration usually account for 70% or more of the energy consumed by restaurants and grocery/convenience stores. Monaire helps business owners run their HVAC and refrigeration equipment efficiently without failures, to reduce energy use by up to 30% and avoid downtime. Monaire works with your existing equipment and requires no upfront capital expenditure. Monaire delivers savings by –

Running equipment efficiently: Monaire uses state-of-the-art software diagnostics to pinpoint HVAC and refrigeration in-efficiencies such as low refrigerant charge, coil fouling etc. Then Monaire’s team of vetted and approved technicians arrives to perform maintenance and repairs the same day, saving you money, time, and hassle. 

Reducing energy use: Monaire’s software uses advanced control strategies to reduce energy use. 

  • Smart scheduling: Ensures that spaces are cooled/heated only when needed. Monaire also resets employee overrides, one less thing business owners need to worry about!
  • Weather forecast based optimization: Ensures that HVAC systems don’t heat during summer and vice versa in winter.
  • Fan overrun: When humidity is relatively low, Monaire is able to deliver cooling by just running the fan in some cases.

Monaire is also able to help business owners identify federal, state and local incentives to upgrade their equipment. In many cases, Monaire customers have been able have their equipment upgraded for free via these incentive programs. 

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