A step toward sustainability
Sustainability is not a new concept, but it continues trending upward as professional contractors adopt greener practices and products.
Eco-friendly practices provide a variety of benefits, from helping the environment to making your business more marketable and creating opportunities for long-term cost savings.
As with any big change in business, shifting to be more sustainable can incur costs and expenses. Especially for small businesses, it’s important to take a calculated approach at a realistic pace toward sustainability.
One entry point to consider as you begin this transition is in the products you purchase for everyday jobs. Make it part of your business strategy to buy more energy- and water-efficient products. This is an affordable way to get your business on the right track toward comprehensive sustainability practices.
Seek out EPA certifications
Two EPA product certifications are Energy Star and WaterSense. Certified products are easy to spot, as each is labeled with a logo telling you that it meets the applicable EPA standards.
Qualified products at The Home Depot include everything from appliances, light bulbs, ceiling fans and HVAC systems to toilets, faucets, shower heads and even outdoor water and irrigation systems. Not only will these EPA-certified products help your business move toward sustainability, it will also help your customers save money.
According to EPA, since the program’s inception in 1992, Energy Star products have helped Americans save $300 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, says EPA, installing WaterSense-certified products can save customers up to 11,000 gallons of water annually.
Look for rebates
Rebates are an excellent way to offset higher upfront costs for some of these more efficient products. In the past, obtaining rebates was time consuming, but the process has gotten significantly easier in the last few years.
There are three main types of rebates available at The Home Depot.
- Prescriptive − Install an energy-saving measure and you get a specific dollar amount for doing so. For example, in some cases if you upgrade lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs, you can get up to $10 back for each bulb replaced.
- Custom − A project may include multiple qualifying measures and must save a predetermined amount of energy. In this case, the incentive is based on the amount of energy saved and not the specific measure taken.
- Energy-efficient financing − Low-interest financing can be provided for projects that save energy.
There are a variety of simple upgrades that, when combined, can have a significant impact in your effort to make homes more efficient by reducing energy use.
LED light bulbs
One of the easiest ways to make an impact is with LED light bulbs, which use approximately 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. The initial investment for LEDs is higher, but The Home Depot has programs in place to help offset that cost.
Take advantage of loyalty programs such as Pro Direct for LED purchases. These are exclusive business tools that help expedite and streamline the ordering process. Benefits include competitive bulk pricing and delivery to the jobsite within 48 hours of a purchase, saving property managers time and money.
Programmable and WiFi thermostats can help save your customers up to $180 a year, and many of them are eligible for significant rebates. Advanced products from brands like Nest and Ecobee are excellent choices.
Changing air filters regularly will also help thermostats regulate the temperature more effectively. Replacing air filters every three months can save up to $100 a year in energy costs.
Water heaters and insulation
Save both water and energy by upgrading customers to an Energy Star-certified water heater, such as the Rheem XR 90. The Rheem XR 90 has the footprint of a 30-gallon water heater but the output of a 50-gallon unit – making it an excellent option if more hot water is needed, but space is limited.
Appropriately chosen and installed insulation is one of the best ways to ensure a home is energy efficient. Using the right R-value insulation (and enough of it) for the climate can save $200 a year in energy costs.
Getting your business started on a path toward more sustainable practices and product is a process that takes time and effort, but it can lead to a big payback in the long run – for your business, for your customers and for the environment.
–By J.T. Rieves, Vice President, Pro Business, The Home Depot
J.T. Rieves has been with The Home Depot for 27 years. During that time he’s held many positions including hourly associate, store manager, district manager, regional vice president and two rotations in the corporate office. Rieves has spent time working in hardware and store operations. He is currently in his fifth year as Vice President, Pro Business.