By Dave Pelland

For a small business owner, keeping a close eye on ongoing expenses is an important part of maintaining the overall economic health of your company, and improving your company’s energy efficiency can provide powerful advantages in cutting your operational and tech-related costs.

While terms like “green IT” and “sustainability” have become important marketing concepts for the high-tech industry, small business owners can look beyond the environmental hype to find a number of relatively simple ways they can use technology to improve efficiency and reduce expenses.

Cloud Benefits

One of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce your company’s overall technology expenses is to replace installed software applications with on-demand “cloud” services that are accessed over the Internet.

By using a cloud application instead of installing the program directly on your network, you can trim energy costs by eliminating the need to have a server for the program and its data files. Because most servers sit idle during the vast majority of the day (not to mention the overnight hours), using a cloud application reduces the cost of powering and cooling a server within your workplace.

In addition, using cloud applications reduces the need to maintain and update programs, and can extend the life of your existing IT equipment. Instead of worrying whether your server is powerful enough to run a feature-laden application, you can pick a cloud application with the best combination of features to meet your needs.

Power Management

Another easy and important way to reduce your overall tech-related energy expenses is to power down any equipment that is not being used. For instance, software that powers-off any PC that has not been used actively for a set period of time, or that powers-down equipment automatically during nonworking hours, can save between $40 and $60 annually per PC in energy costs.

Similarly, it is a good idea to consider replacing desktop machines with laptops, especially if your desktops are more than a couple of years old. Most desktops today have improved energy management features that help small businesses reduce the costs of operating those devices.

If you want to stick with a relatively new desktop machine, consider replacing an obsolete CRT display with a more energy-efficient LCD monitor. In addition to offering a brighter, crisper screen, LCD monitors are dramatically more energy-efficient than CRT displays.

Another popular alternative is to replace dedicated fax machines with online eFax services that allow you to send and receive fax messages with your existing Internet connection. Because the use of fax is shrinking considerably in many industries, switching to an eFax service can save you the energy-related cost of a running a dedicated fax machine, as well as the cost of printing paper-based faxes.

Similarly, a multifunction office copier can often combine features including faxing and scanning, eliminating the need to run dedicated machines for those purposes.

As you investigate additional IT purchases, add energy efficiency to the list of evaluation criteria. Many PCs, printers and other types of small business IT equipment have Energy Star ratings that help you determine energy-related and overall operating costs.

By paying attention to energy efficiency and updating IT equipment as appropriate, you can help increase the overall efficiency of your small business while also reducing operational expenses.

Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. His editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank.