Power savings or bust
By Ian Mount, FSB Magazine contributor

(Fortune Magazine) -- With energy costs in the stratosphere, small companies are finding innovative ways - beyond solar panels and ski hats - to cut their electricity bills.

Pine Hall Brick

Winston-Salem, N.C. (pinehallbrick.com)

Innovation: Heavier bricks cost more to fire in a kiln. To lighten the load, Pine Hall president Fletcher Steele increased the size of the holes in his product; today holes account for more than 24% of the volume, up from 22%.

Benefit: Pine Hall's "holier" bricks cut energy costs by $12,000 each month.

Paul Taylor

Esmond, Ill.

Innovation: Taylor, a grain and soybean farmer, realized that he needed only 200 horsepower from his 250-horsepower tractor and began to run it in 12th gear instead of in ninth.

Benefit: By cutting his RPMs, Taylor also reduced his tractor's fuel use, which should save him about $2,500 annually.

Fairway

New York City (fairwaymarket.com)

Innovation: While planning his new Fairway supermarket in Brooklyn, owner Howie Glickberg decided to build and run four of his own natural-gas generators to power the 52,000-square-foot store, and to sell the excess energy.

Benefit: Glickberg says the generators, which cost $4 million to $5 million, will save the company $50,000 a month - to say nothing of his energy sales. He expects the investment to pay off within five years.  Top of page