Now is a great time to cut your energy costs

    For many, the New Year means a fresh start, and for an increasing number of businesses, that means taking a closer look at energy use. Tough economic conditions are forcing many businesses across the state to cut expenses and scrutinize all expenditures.

    Although it’s impossible to control every cost, businesses can drive energy bills down, and Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, is here to help.

    Now is the time to take matters into your own hands. You don’t have to be a C-level executive or lead the maintenance team for your employer to identify energy efficiency opportunities at your business. With expected increases in energy costs, businesses need to examine every possibility to reduce their operating expenses and energy costs.

    Since 2001, Focus has helped Wisconsin businesses save more than $120 million in annual energy costs. Equally as important, those businesses have reduced emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by more than 1.7 billion pounds.

    Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin businesses of all sizes, across all industries, to install cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and become more competitive. Business sectors Focus works with include: commercial; industrial; agricultural and rural; schools and governments.

    Assistance ranges from helping facility managers identify the greatest opportunities for increased efficiency to educating business owners and establishing if renewable energy makes sense for their location. Focus also helps businesses understand how these changes can lower operational expenses, help protect the environment and foster a safe and comfortable work environment.

    Focus’ energy advisors provide businesses with technical expertise and training to assist with long-term energy management planning. One of the first things an energy advisor will do is help you evaluate your building’s envelope. This includes everything that protects a building from the outdoors, such as walls, the roof and windows. The advisor will then examine your facility’s mechanical systems, technologies and operating systems. After data is gathered, the energy advisor will share the results and help you identify the next steps to start improving your bottom line immediately. 

    Businesses that have worked with Focus on Energy are often surprised at how quickly the savings can add up. A project as simple as replacing the existing lighting with an energy-efficient system can save a business thousands of dollars every year.

    For businesses that don’t have the capital to invest in new equipment, Focus also examines how existing equipment is used and suggests ways to cut costs while boosting production.

    Financial incentives make moving forward a reality. Businesses of all types and sizes can receive financial incentives, often times for multiple projects. In some cases, Focus has awarded individual companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. There are three incentive categories to help make projects a reality:

    • Prescriptive – These are incentives for “standard” efficiency measures, such as lighting or HVAC. You or your market provider can apply for and earn these incentives.
    • Custom – These are incentives that are tailored for unique or non-standard projects. You will need to work directly with Focus on Energy or specific providers to obtain these incentives, but the process is not difficult.
    • Service buy-downs – These are incentives you can earn for maintaining equipment. You can apply for them directly through a service provider.


    More and more businesses are turning to solar, wind and biomass to supply energy for their commercial and industrial applications. In addition to helping control rising energy costs, these systems help businesses ensure a reliable source of energy. Is renewable energy right for you? Focus on Energy can help you decide.

    Winning ideas come from all levels of an organization. Be the first to show your company how to save energy and money for the long term. Call Focus on Energy at 800-762-7077 or visit and help your business take the guesswork out of improving the bottom line.


    Ken Williams is director of business programs for Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy.

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