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Colder Weather Efficiency for your Business

Casey Woods by Casey Woods, Executive Director | October 21, 2019

Don’t let your hard earned money blow out the window

We had a beautiful day Saturday, and now the temperature is dropping FAST.  There are some basic things you can do for your business now, that range from super inexpensive, to a little more in depth, that can drop your energy bill in colder months.  A little extra planning can save some significant cash all the way through spring of next year.  Here are a few things to consider:

1. Re-caulk your windows. Window caulk is fairly inexpensive, and it can be your first defense against drafts that drain heat from your space.  Check your windows throughout your facility, and obtain some caulk from your local hardware store to keep your store front sealed.  Caulking your windows is often the cheapest way for a business to reduce energy bills.

2. Check for un-insulated gaps. Beyond caulking, it is important to walk through your building and look for “cold spots”.  Some areas may not be insulated, you may have other places that are in need of tuck pointing.  Identifying areas where thermal or insulated mass is lacking, and then fixing the issue, may save your gas and electric bill moving forward.

Adventure Monkey Emporia Snow Pic

3. Have you been in your basement or upper story lately? Now is the time to check out all areas of your building to determine where cold air is entering and heat is exiting your facility.  Even if you don’t use the basement or upper story of your building for regular business functions, if the structure maintains a solid seal, your energy consumption should decline.

4. Natural light is your friend. Remember all the shading you did in the summer?  A little solar gain might be a good thing.  Not only can solar gain provide warmth, but some people suffer from vitamin D deficiency during periods with less sun exposure.  Find ways to unblock the light entering your business and take advantage of the best heat source in our solar system.

5. Do a refresher. This is a good time to walk through all of your heat related systems, adjust lighting timers, and look at your plumbing.  Knowing where breakers are, how to shut of water to a frozen pipe, and how to reconfigure your exterior lighting for darker nights is important.

6. An ounce of HVAC preventative medicine is worth a pound of cure. Consider signing up for a maintenance club with your heating and air provider.  Changing filters, and making sure that your system is running at peak efficiency, can save your business money during the colder months.

7. Are you ready for LED? It is important that your storefront remains lit as customers “window shop”.  Don’t start shutting off lights in an ill advised attempt to save on the electric bill.  You might consider changing your light source of choice.  LED lighting continues to decrease in price, and it consumes less energy than some traditional lighting sources.  New bulbs, or entirely new lighting fixtures, can help reduce your energy expenditures.

Those are the “Do’s”, but there are also some “Don’t s” in the quest to create a more efficient store front:

1. Don’t keep your business at an uncomfortable temperature. Everyone has seen businesses that have

Snow Drifts on Main Street

employees dressed like they are outdoors (because it feels like that indoors).  It shouldn’t feel like summer inside when it’s freezing outside, but if your customers are uncomfortably cold, they are distracted.  A distracted customer isn’t a spending customer.

2. Don’t start “covering things”. Cardboard, metal slip covers, and more coverings aren’t doing anything for your efficiency.  They simply distract from the aesthetic of your business.  Use proper construction, not home remedies.

3. Don’t go dark. Some businesses opt to shut lighting off as soon as possible during the cold weather months.  Those businesses miss out on the window shopping and drive by marketing opportunities a lit storefront allows for.  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. 

Outside of the world of efficiency, there are a few things to remember for your customers this time of year:

1. Keep the walk clear. It will snow eventually, and when it does, it is important to keep your walkway clear.  A snow covered sidewalk is a walking hazard, and it can prevent customers from visiting your business and your neighbors businesses.  EVEN IF SNOWFALLS ON A DAY YOU ARE CLOSED, it is important that businesses work together to keep their block passable.  This is a good excuse to get to know your neighbors and area building owners.  Watch the weather, communicate with your staff, and make a weather plan (that includes assigning snow removal duties).

2. Have a coat rack.  If your customers are too cold, they get distracted.  Customers that are too hot get

uncomfortable, and they often carry a coat in an off arm that could be used for shopping.  Offer a coat rack.  A coat rack is a simple solution that can have positive spending impacts.

3. A warm beverage can make a difference. On exceptionally cold days, a coffee, cider, or tea can warm people up and make them feel comfortable in your business.  Our downtown coffee shops and grocery store can provide all the supplies you need.

4. Know when the weather is a potential hazard, how you will respond, and your communication plan.  Cold temperatures can produce icy conditions, and other weather patterns that makes travel unsafe.  Look at the weather, determine if your business needs to adjust hours of operation, and have a communication plan for your employees and the general public.  It’s frustrating for customers and staff to brave icy streets only to arrive to a closed store.  Be safe, and make good weather related decisions that you can clearly communicate.

Kansas weather can be unpredictable, but cold weather is inevitable.  A little extra planning right now can save some cash on energy bills, and build traffic/sales with your customers.  Look through the lists above and determine what you will do to help your business through the colder days ahead!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.


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