As a business owner, you already know how much you pay for energy (and that you’d like to pay less every month). You probably have a few good ideas of how to get there—update your lighting, button up those drafty spots, add insulation. But if you’re like other business owners, you will also wonder how you can afford the upfront costs of paying a contractor or buying new equipment.

With the right analysis and financing, energy upgrades can save you money from day one—even if you rent or lease your business space. Use this financing guide to learn about your options and how to get started.

Step 1 – Investigate the energy use in your business

Getting an energy assessment is a great place to start. We offer no-cost over-the phone consultations that can help identify projects that will bring you the best return on your investment. For larger or more complex projects an on-site assessment can be useful, and the Efficiency Vermont customer support team can connect you with a network of qualified contractors, so you can obtain bids for that work. See our guide on how to choose a contractor.

Step 2 – Get the numbers that minimize your costs

Lending institutions will want to see a cost-savings analysis to ensure that your project will save money by reducing your energy costs. Vermont businesses are eligible for wide range of incentives that reduce the cost of the energy saving services or products. By taking advantage of available incentives, banks and credit unions can provide a loan to you with confidence.

You may want to structure your financing so the loan payment is equal to or lower than your projected energy savings each month. A cash-flow analysis, will help determine whether a project will have a “neutral cash flow” or “positive cash flow.” We can assist you at each step, from helping you identify existing incentives or building a custom incentive package to running a personalized cost-saving and cash-flow analysis—we’ll work with you to structure financing that meets your business’s needs.

Step 3 – Apply for a loan

Vermonters can take advantage of a flexible loan option called the Business Energy Loan, or check with your existing lender to see if they offer a loan for energy improvements. Efficiency Vermont customer support can provide the cost-flow analysis when you need it for a lender. View a complete list of eligibility requirements for the Business Energy Loan.

Step 4 – Complete your project

Now comes the exciting part, watching your bills go down once you’ve been approved and the work has been completed. And realizing that your energy savings cover or even exceed the cost of your monthly loan payment. Once the loan is paid off, savings will increase as your net expenses drop.