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The Confident SMB

Five Ways to Control SMB Operating Costs

Created: 03 Apr 2012 • Updated: 03 Apr 2012
Grant M's picture
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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 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 realize 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 use.

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 so you can 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 Energy Star. You’ve seen the logo on your appliances at home, but what is it? Energy Star is a government program designed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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. Consult Energy Star’s easy-to-follow instructions on how to enable power management systems for most PC operating systems.
  3. Use more laptops. Many SMBs are already doing this because their workforce needs to be mobile. But for those that are still using desktops, laptops bring another benefit beyond enabling your road warriors—laptops can save anywhere from 40 to 100 watts, depending on the desktop units they replace.
  4. Consider virtualization. SMBs can also see savings from both desktop and server virtualization, which can enable small businesses to utilize 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 virtualization, 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.