Nigerian Small business owners say energy cost often stands out as the biggest financial burden among all the overheads they incur. Experts note that whether it is a shop, an office or a warehouse, the cost of electricity can come as a shock for small business owners, particularly those who have not accurately factored this cost into their original business plan. They, however, say there are lots of ways for small businesses to cut down on their energy use and save money.
According to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, consumers of electricity must learn how to efficiently manage power consumption in order to effectively save cost.
Fashola, who spoke at the recent Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja, believes that managing electricity cost was beyond the use of energy saving bulbs.
He says small business owners need to cut down on the number of times they use water heaters and water pumping machines, as these equipment consume more quantum of electricity than energy saving bulbs.
Operators in the power sector note that by making simple changes to the way an entrepreneur operates his business, he stands to make great savings on his annual business energy cost.
They say there are lots of ways for small businesses to cut down on their usage and save money. Experts note that because most businesses leave their lights on all day, it is important to install energy-efficient bulbs that do not cost a lot to run.
They say various findings have shown that the most efficient energy saving bulbs save thousands of naira annually in electricity costs in households, adding that this figure will be much higher for businesses.
Experts say it pays to replace those outdated 60 watts bulbs for 6W alternatives. They admit that energy saving bulbs may be considerably more expensive to buy than traditional bulbs, but note that what the small business owner will save in running them will more than offset this cost. They say energy saving bulbs are more reliable than the traditional bulbs.
Experts advise small business owners to encourage their staff to imbibe the habit of switching computers and tech to sleep mode when not in use, whether they are stepping out for lunch or answering nature’s call. They note that of all the energy-consuming devices in the workplace, computers are often guilty of using the most electricity, adding precious sums to the entrepreneur’s overall bill.
Operators in the power sector note that by switching to sleep mode wherever possible, the entrepreneur will limit the amount of electricity the computer requires, so more cash can stay in his or her pocket.
Fashola, while responding to a question at the recent event in Abuja, explains that the reason why some power consumers think their meters read too fast is because they use equipment that consumes so much electricity.
The minister notes that some of these equipment consume higher quantum of electricity without the knowledge of their users. He says in order to save cost on energy, business owners and individuals must know how to manage the use of such heavy power consuming equipment.
Fashola says, “Even the man who has a meter now says his meter is running fast like an Olympic race. There are a couple of things that may be involved.
Meters are usually subjected to testing before they come into the market. Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency can tell you details about that. Also, it may just be the earthing in your building, which may affect your consumption. There may be other things wrong due to improper installations. Also, something might be wrong with the meter.
“However, how many times do you boil water? This is because everybody thinks it is all about energy saving bulbs, but it is not entirely about energy saving bulbs. Rather it is only part of it. The real consumption of electricity and energy has to do with how we use water. For your water pumping machines, how many times do you use it to pump water in a day? These light bulbs come at 30 to 60 watts and don’t consume a lot of energy. But your pump comes in horse-power.”
The minister adds, “The amount of energy they (water pumping machines, heaters, etc) consume is another reason why they are measured in horse-power and it is scientific. So every time you put on one pumping machine, you are putting on probably all the double of these bulbs in this hall. So if you have automated the pumping of water, wow, your meter will take gold medal in the race.
“Therefore part of the way to save cost is for you to go and buy flasks and when you boil water once in the morning, put it in the flask. For seriously this is the economics of power. If you have done all of that and you are not seeing your meter slowing down, then it is probably an installation problem. But to conserve the use of water is the real deal of energy saving. So just understand that.”
Experts also state that to further cut the cost on energy consumption, small business owners can invest in an energy audit. They note that investing in a professional energy audit may sound counterintuitive to saving money, but doing so can prove lucrative. According to experts, an audit is basically the process of an expert team assessing your workplace’s energy efficiency, highlighting areas where you can trim down your overall use.
They say an audit is useful as it shows where in the business improvements can be made to make operations more efficient, and ultimately save money on bills. Experts say businesses can pay an independent company to perform an audit, or can arrange one through their supplier. Experts further note that although some small business entrepreneurs might feel uncomfortable letting their staff work from home, the benefits of doing so are two-fold.
They explain that firstly, fewer bodies in the office means less power consumed, adding that the entrepreneur could see a significant drop in his electricity bill as a result. Experts say a large number of computers whirring away all day equates to more money spent powering them, so if one’s staff can comfortably work from home, why not let them?
They note that secondly, a recent study found that employees given the choice to work from home at least a few days a week are more productive, adding that this can be a win-win situation for the employer and his workers.
By Okechukwu Nnodim