Energizing results

A few months ago, concerns about energy
prices were at the top of everyone’s list. But a poor
economy has led to falling
gas prices and a greater
focus on job losses and
other economic woes.
Initiatives that would reduce
our dependence on foreign
oil have lost some of their
luster as attention shifts
elsewhere. Concerns about
energy may come and go as
the price of gas fluctuates,
but now is not the time to be
complacent.

We cannot let energy costs
hamstring our economic
recovery. When things start
to pick up again — and energy demands increase with it
— prices will most likely go
right back to where they
were before, cutting into
economic gains.

In a national Smart Business
survey of senior executives,
60 percent of respondents
said that the federal and state
governments should be leading the way for developing
alternative energy solutions
and a majority of respondents
said they expect energy costs
to increase in the next 12 to
18 months.

So costs are expected to
rise, but much of the burden
has been placed on the government to do something
about it. The real question is
what are we — businesses
and consumers — going to
do about it?

We trust our elected officials to make the right decisions and look out for our
best interests, but we have
to take the initiative ourselves. Government is not
going to solve all of our
problems alone.

Ask yourself: What am I
doing about the energy problems in this country?

Instead of placing all the
blame in the public sector,
let’s take an active role in
doing something about it in
the private sector.

There are a lot of things we
can do as business leaders
and consumers to ease the
demand on energy.

As consumers, we can do a
lot of little things, like car-pooling or using public
transportation to reduce fuel
consumption. When it comes
time to replace your vehicle,
choose something that is
more fuel-efficient or look
into a hybrid vehicle.

As business leaders, we can
take measures at the office to
encourage employees to be
more energy-conscious, both
at work and at home. You
can start by educating
employees about costs and
creating initiatives to make
sure computers, copiers and
lights are turned off at the
end of the day. Take a hard
look at your equipment, such
as HVAC systems, and find
out if there is a more energy-efficient model on the market. The upfront investment
could pay off sooner than
you think in lower utility
bills.

Another place to start is
your utility company. Many
offer free evaluations and
can provide energy-saving
tips or education programs
that will ultimately save you
money.

Of those executives we
surveyed, 52 percent said
that they plan on reducing
other expenses to cope
with increasing energy
costs, 11 percent plan on
passing the costs on to customers and 9 percent plan
on eliminating staff.

As you can see, not controlling energy costs can end
up having pretty dramatic
results on your company. If
you take steps now, you may
be able to reduce the impact
on your bottom line.

But don’t sit around waiting for the government to do
it for you. Take steps now to
reduce your energy costs.
Anything the government
does later will just be icing
on the cake.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your
comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected].

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