In an age of limited and dwindling resources, we all know on an individual level how important it is to save money and resources by practicing responsible energy use. But what we know and practice personally does not always translate into the sphere of business and industrial use.

Today, we’re going to look at some common and costly commercial energy planning mistakes of which many businesses are guilty.

Are you making any of these mistakes? First, a look at some of the numbers:

Commercial Energy Planning Statistics

According to EnergyStar, there are a total of approximately 6 million commercial and industrial buildings in the United States, and the total spending on energy for these buildings is in excess of $400 billion a year. Approximately thirty percent of this energy use is inefficient or unnecessary.

In other words, over $100 billion each year is wasted due to poor commercial energy planning. A mere 10% improvement in energy efficiency would save an approximate $40 billion annually. These numbers should give us all pause.

How does your business rate? How could you do better?

5 Costly Commercial Energy Planning Mistakes: How Do You Rate?

Commercial Energy Planning Mistake #1: Failure to Negotiate

This first mistake may come as a surprise, but it really shouldn’t. As a commercial enterprise, you often negotiate for the best price on the raw materials and services your need. If you are not already negotiating for the best price for your energy consumption, you should be. After all, you are one of your energy provider’s best customers, and they do not want to lose you.

Commercial Energy Planning Mistake #2: Business as Usual

We all know that just because “things have always been done that way,” that does not mean that there is not a better way to get things done. All too often, commercial enterprises fail to engage in anything but the minimal energy planning in order to comply with government regulations or to estimate costs for the year.

Perhaps the cost of setting up an actual energy plan sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, but you might be surprised by what you discover. Keep in mind that money saved now and over the long run means more money to invest in your company’s future.

Better energy use practices can also go hand-in-hand with streamlining your operations by helping to make your business more efficient overall.

Commercial Energy Planning Mistake #3: Failure to Consider Alternative Energy

When you think of alternative energy, you may think of windmills, solar, and hydro—and those options are certainly part of the big picture.

However, have you considered using different energy providers? Do you regularly weigh the costs and benefits of electric versus oil or natural gas?

If not, you are probably paying more than you need to for daily operations. Stay competitive with cost-effective energy choices. Survey the field and make an informed choice.

Commercial Energy Planning Mistake #4: One Size Fits All

Another costly mistake a business can make is to assume that what works for another business can automatically be applied to them. Your buildings and your processes are your own. Your needs are different. Trying to take these other company’s options and apply them to your own business can feel like a frustrating, hopeless, expensive task—and it may well be.

Energy planning needs to be broken down and applied to the particular circumstances of each commercial enterprise.

Commercial Energy Planning Mistake #5: Keeping Energy Planning In-House

Perhaps you want to go about your energy plan more efficiently. You know that your business, like many others, could benefit from a closer look at energy use and from a stable energy plan that addresses many of the mistakes already listed.

You don’t have to go it alone. That could indeed lead to costly frustration.

Businesses should rely on experts who can take into account their particular needs together with present and emerging technologies in order to come up with cost-effective, long-term solutions.