Business energy isn't cheap. Small businesses pay as much as 25 cents for each kilowatt hour that they use. Energy prices are regularly hiked, as well. By some estimates, energy bills amount to as much as 0.4% of business turnover for the average small business. In a slow economy in which every dollar matters, energy bills present an area to cut back on.

If you would like to find a way to cut the energy bills at your business, you have two options: to begin, you can make sure that your business makes efficient and careful use of energy; importantly, you can also make sure that you are with the most cost-effective energy provider in your area.

Using less energy

Inefficient or careless energy use can waste hundreds at any business. Using new, Energy Star-rated equipment, low-power inkjet printers rather than power-hungry laser printers and switching to fluorescent or LED lamps can all save a great deal of energy. Money spent on air-conditioning can be cut down with better insulation.

In most businesses, a great deal of energy is wasted to neglect. Rooms that are not occupied are left lit and air-conditioned, and computers are left running through the night for no reason. Simply working out a schedule for when to turn on equipment and to turn it off can save massive amounts of energy.

Shop around for a better deal

Switch electricity providers. Australian homes and businesses have freedom of choice when it comes to buying energy. You get to switch at will to any utility provider serving your area. While the wiring infrastructure to your business remains the same no matter whom you buy from, the provider that supplies electricity on that line can change. Just as you can get different prices on the same can of coffee depending on the supermarket that you buy from, you can get different prices from different energy providers for the same energy. Switching is free, and your business could save hundreds of dollars on its energy bills each year.

The option of locking in prices

Office lights Darling Hbr AustraliaAustralia has a free, deregulated market in energy: retail prices rise and fall on supply and demand just the way they do for petrol or any other commodity. Most energy providers offer businesses an excellent option to help them beat price rise. You get to pick an energy supply contract that charges you at today's rates for the duration of the contract. If you get a one-year contract it won't affect you if prices rise in six months. The only catch is that you don't get the lowest possible rates today; you get something that's slightly higher.

Even so, locked-in prices are an excellent idea. Energy prices only ever rise — they almost never fall. Even if you do sign a deal to pay a slightly higher rate today, retail price will quickly overtake it. You'll end up on top. The other advantage to locked-in prices is that you no longer need to constantly keep an eye on energy prices to make sure that you're getting the best deal.

When you switch, consider bundling

If your business needs both gas and electricity, buying both from one retailer with a bundled contract can earn you a discount. Once you shop around to determine the best prices on separate contracts, you can determine if a bundled contract saves you money.

The option to switch to a green energy source

Public interest in the environmental impact of human activities has never been higher. Many energy utility providers today source their electricity from plants that produce power through sustainable methods: hydro, solar, wind and so on. If the idea of sustainable power appeals to you, you should switch to a utility provider with a green option. Buying renewable energy can also make marketing sense. Consumers usually like the idea of going with businesses that are environmentally responsible.

By Austin Ainswort

Austin is a small businessman of several years. When he's not working, he likes to spend time blogging about his experiences. You can find his enlightening posts on many of today's top websites and blogs.

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