If you're a small business owner and own your own commercial building(s), you may constantly be looking for ways to cut your overhead costs. Although owning your own building gives you more stability -- for example, there's no need to scramble to find a new location if your landlord doubles your rent -- this security often brings with it higher carrying costs on everything from property taxes to utilities. Read on to learn more about how the type of roof you choose can help reduce your business's utility bills.
How can your roof reduce your business's utility bills?
As prices for oil, electricity, water, and other utilities continue to rise, businesses have been going "green" -- investing in dimming lights, reducing the use of automatic sprinkler systems, and even composting trash. However, one often untapped resource for cost savings can be the underutilized empty space on your building's roof. Taking advantage of your building's natural properties by installing solar panels and/or a rainwater collection system can help your business become more self-sufficient by producing at least a portion of its own electricity and water.
What types of solar systems can power a commercial building?
Commercial buildings are particularly well-suited to solar installation, as they're generally larger and have flatter roofs than residential buildings. If the south-facing side of your business's roof receives direct sun for most of the day, it's likely that you'll be able to harness quite a bit of solar energy by covering this side of your roof in solar panels.
The amount by which a solar system will reduce your business's monthly electric bill greatly depends upon the amount of energy your business currently uses, as the amount of electricity that can be produced by a certain square footage of solar panels remains fairly static. If you run a small retail business, your business's electricity needs may be more comparable to the residential user, so you may eventually be able to supply the majority of your electrical demands through solar energy. If you run a larger manufacturing facility, you'll likely be able to put a dent in your bill, but may not ever become fully independent of "the grid." As an added source of savings, you'll qualify for a hefty 30 percent federal income tax rebate on the purchase and installation price of this solar system.
What types of rainwater collection systems may be an option?
Many businesses have recently converted to "low-flow" toilets to reduce water usage. However, this usage can be completely eliminated by employing a rainwater collection system to supply nonpotable water for your business. Because this water is routed only to toilet tanks, it just needs to be filtered of debris, rather than purified. These systems generally don't require many significant changes to the existing plumbing system -- only the installation of gutters, a holding tank, and piping to the toilet-supply line should be necessary.
Although it may not seem that flushing the toilets would be costing you significant money, this can account for a sizable portion of your monthly water bill. By employing the natural resources (and large roof space) at your disposal, you'll be able to reduce your reliance on public water systems.
What roofing materials should you use for these projects?
Although both solar panels and rainwater collection systems can be installed on top of a variety of roofing materials -- asphalt, concrete, even wooden shingles -- asphalt shingles are the most versatile option for both. These shingles have been proven to be less susceptible to the buildup and leach-off of toxic chemicals from burning waste, manure, cigarette smoke, or car exhaust. And because most asphalt shingles are fairly dark in color, they're a good way to ensure that your solar system blends in flawlessly and has a secure base.
To learn more about the options available to you, contact a local commercial roofing company.