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Big savings for small business

Small businesses find big benefits in switching to efficient energy

Gears Bike Shop in Mississauga, Ont., used the Save on Energy Small Business Lighting rebate program to switch to LED lighting.
Two years ago, Ira Kargel and Kevin Wallace of Gears Bike Shop decided they’d had it with halogen lighting in their Mississauga, Ont. location. The halogens, says Kargel, used a lot of energy and threw off so much heat that it created an uncomfortable environment for customers and employees.

Gears decided to look into Save on Energy programs offered by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which helps small businesses boost their bottom line with programs that make it easy to save energy and money. By working with local hydro companies, like Enersource in Mississauga, Save on Energy helps give businesses like Gears the information and tools (including up to $2,000 in financial incentives) to manage their electricity use more efficiently.

“It was a no-brainer,” says Kargel. “The program provided a financial incentive and it’s good for the environment, economically sound and created a more comfortable [workspace].”

After a free onsite lighting assessment of their store, Kargel and Wallace decided to switch to LED lighting, which uses 75 per cent less energy than standard incandescent lighting and lasts up to 25 times longer. And with the Save on Energy Small Business Lighting rebate program, they shortened the payback period while immediately reducing their energy costs.

Though the goal was to save money and reduce the shop’s environmental footprint, Kargel and Wallace also discovered other unexpected benefits. Shadow-free LEDs offered uniform light and greater visibility showcasing products, while also providing increased security for the store. High-efficiency LEDs run much cooler than traditional lights (which can also reduce air-conditioning costs) and comfortable customers tend to stay longer, spend more money and return more frequently.

The comfort of their employees was another big concern for Kargel and Wallace. Productivity improved because the space was easier to work in. And because cycling and conservation go hand in hand, making the move to energy-efficient lighting showed the community that Gears was committed to the environment.

Similarly, Hiker’s Haven in Oakville, Ont., had aging and inefficient lighting system that meant staff time and energy were being wasted on replacing bulbs and constantly adjusting the building’s temperature to accommodate the extra heat the halogen lights produced. After consulting with a local lighting company, the Hiker’s Haven team learned about Save on Energy programs offered through Oakville Hydro. A thorough lighting assessment was performed and 100 LED spotlights were installed throughout the store."

Joe Raftis, founder and CEO of Hiker’s Haven’s parent company Europe Bound, was so happy with the changes that he plans to upgrade to LEDs in his Europe Bound locations as well. “It was a win-win situation,” he says. “We were able to help the environment while saving money.”

Contact your local hydro company to learn more about programs and incentives that can help kick-start your energy-management efforts.

This article first appeared in the Toronto Star in July 2016.

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