With the economy plunging into scary depths, unemployment running so high, and with an all around air of financial insecurity, everyone is trying to save money. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and when you need to make your dollar stretch, there are many inventive ways through which you can accomplish that goal. So what are these ways? As numerous as they may be, there are at least five that top the list.

 #1: Let There Be Light

One of the top things for a company to do that will drastically reduce the amount of spending required to maintain any kind of organization is to examine what is being used for lighting. Energy efficient lighting is - well, illuminatingly wonderful, and it’s easy to convert to. If you don’t want to extend the one-time expense of installing energy efficient tract lighting (which may be the absolute best way to go), don’t worry! You can be on your way to efficiency – and money savings – by changing out the bulbs used in your current installed fixtures. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) not only save energy during use (they use 2/3 less energy), but they also last much longer than incandescent bulbs (about 4-6 times as long), so get a bigger and longer bang for your buck. Check out CIS_EO Lighting (PDF) for more on the benefits of CFLs.

 #2: Let There Be Air

While lighting may top the list for quick and easy fixes to save money across the board, a less often thought of building component can actually be sucking away at your bottom line. An unturned air conditioning and/or heating units can run your operating costs up as much as 20%. Having your unit checked regularly to ensure its proper function is well worth the service call. Twenty percent is worth knowing about – problem or not.

 #3 Let There Be Less Paper

Computers are a wonderful thing. If your organization has a few of them around, you can distribute company communications via email rather than paper. If email is not available or conveniently practical for everyone, try using a centralized, well maintained bulletin board rather than individualized memos. Put it next to the water cooler. Not only is there potential of saving tons of paper (copy paper and the stuff money is printed on), but it will foster a sense of community space, and remind people that they are part of the same team. Plus it will eliminate the “I didn’t get the memo” excuse for policy ignorance. Less printed material also trickles down to less ink required to print, and less copy machines needing to be maintained and serviced – all of which adds up big time. Cost analysis of one department of about 50 people showed that over the course of five years, $80,000 was being spent on copiers, parts, ink and cartridges, maintenance calls, and paper. Of course individual companies expenses vary, but less printed material is less money that’s literally being crumpled up and tossed once the information has been assimilated.

#4: Let There Be Darkness

How often did your parents loudly suggest that you turn the light off if you’re not in the room? The same goes for business operations. If no one is utilizing the room or hallway, make it company practice to turn the lights off. They even come with convenient switches for that reason! It may seem like such a trivial thing, but let’s say that you can only keep it dark for a quarter of the time – that’s a 25% savings right there. Little things add up quickly, especially when there are a lot of little things.

 #5 Let There Be Knowledge

Last, but definitely not least, is the importance of knowledge. People are ingenious. We are always coming up with new ways to do old things. There is something to be said with keeping up with the times, especially when the times have figured out new tricks of the trade. Staying knowledgeable about energy trends and other energy efficient companies will only increase your confidence that you’re doing the right things, and will ensure that when new ways have been discovered, you’re not left out of the loop. Energy efficient consulting is worth your time. Consol is only one firm specializing in this area. They offer both business and residential energy efficiency diagnoses and solutions. But as with so many other things, prevention is worth a pound of cure, and calling in a specialist is never a bad idea. Knowledge, in this case, really is more power!