Adapt Your Utility Budget to Climate Change
It’s a rare day that we don’t see some news about climate change and its effects. Extreme climate effects are on the minds of many residents of the western U.S., where severe drought persists and previously balmy coastal areas such as San Diego have turned sweltering. California (especially coastal areas) and Nevada, in particular, are getting progressively hotter and more humid.
Along with the heat come steeply rising energy bills, as more residents and businesses install and run air conditioning. Utility providers must contend with the effects of extreme weather on the public’s increasing demand for energy. Commercial and household users’ growing electricity usage, higher energy costs, and increased likelihood of power outages all contribute to rising rates. In June 2014, Southern California Edison raised its rates by an average of 8%, and in Washington, Pacific Power has requested an 8.5% overall rate increase.
A troubling trend
Unfortunately, these cases are not isolated incidents. Increasing electricity demand and consumption, coupled with rising electricity costs, mean utility costs will continue to represent an ever-larger share of business, HOA, and community association budgets — indefinitely.
Business owners and association managers are keenly aware of this problem. A June 2014 survey by the American Sustainable Business Council reports that 53% of small business owners are concerned about higher energy costs resulting from climate change.
Their concerns are valid: Utilities are almost always the largest single expense in an association’s budget, and they can also be the least controllable expense for associations and businesses. Fortunately, there are options available for responding to climate change-driven utility cost increases.
You can adapt — and save money, too!
Conservation is typically the first way organizations respond to utility cost increases. Strategies such as installing energy-efficient equipment or using your air conditioning less can help lower the cost of utility charges — at least in the short term.
The problem with such conservation techniques is that they only reduce consumption. This means that if the utility raises its rates, your energy costs will still increase, even though you’re using less electricity, gas, or water.
Compared with conservation efforts, utility auditing can result in greater energy cost savings that will continue regardless of the amount of energy you use or any future rate increases. An in-depth utility audit — which includes a meticulous review of your utility bills and a thorough inspection of your business’s or association’s premises — reveals errors in billing, wrong-rate charges, incorrect service charges, and other overcharges that present the opportunity for a refund or to save on future utility charges.
Pacific Utility Audit knows that climate change and extreme weather can hike up utility costs for businesses and associations. Rather than giving up increasingly more of your hard-earned revenue to utilities, or attempting short-term conservation techniques, find out how much you can save — now and in the future — with the help of a utility audit.