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Feeling the pinch? These days, all of us are looking for ways to trim budgets and our operating expenses. After all, who doesn’t like to save money? One pain point that consumers, enterprises and small businesses share is their energy consumption

But it’s not just the heat of summer or the cold of winter that ratchets up the kilowatts. If you are an SMB, your IT systems can have a significant impact on your energy consumption. The good news is that there are things small businesses can do to make their energy bill more bearable year-round.

Most SMBs don’t realise just how big of a footprint their IT equipment has on the environment and how much they could save by reducing it. You can make laudable changes without compromising the quality and performance of your equipment or processes. In fact, it’s not hard to have the best of both worlds: high product performance and low energy usage.

Below are some tips for fostering energy-efficient computing in your small business. Some of these are simple changes and others will require new approaches to IT, but every little bit helps in the long run.

  1. Know where you stand. Know where you are to get to where you want to be. SMBs can perform energy audits themselves with the help of an inexpensive metering device such as P3 International Corporation’s Kill A Watt meter. Among other things, these devices display power draws in watts and track cumulative power consumption over time in kilowatt-hours.
  2. Go with E3. You’ve seen the logo on your appliances at home, but what is it? E3 (Equipment Energy Efficieny)  is an Australian government program to support the introduction and use of energy-efficient products, and it’s for more than just your washer and dryer at home. Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing electronic equipment for your business, from LCD monitors and laptops to servers and copiers.
  3. Use cloud security and/or cloud storage options. By adopting a cloud model you can boost your security posture while increasing capability and functionality with the additional benefit of reducing electricity costs and decreasing administration.
  4. Consider virtualisation. SMBs can also see savings from both desktop and server virtualisation, which can enable small businesses to utilise fewer servers and desktops to maintain the same number of applications while also decreasing electricity consumption and waste heat. A recent study conducted by Symantec found that the majority of small businesses are interested in virtualisation, with a full 70 percent of them at least considering it.
  5. Unplug it! It may sound obvious, but too many of us still walk away with something unused still plugged in. Most devices consume electricity even when they’re switched off. By unplugging your PC, other devices and chargers when they’re not in use, you’ll see more benefits than a power management system alone.

A few tweaks in habit here, a few energy efficient devices there, and noticeable reductions in energy bills and operating expenses will occur. All of this can be done with no negative effect on operations. It’s a cost-savings opportunity for SMBs that makes perfect sense.