Innovative ways to cut energy costs
3 small companies share their secrets.
By Ian Mount, FSB contributor

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- With energy costs rising and poised to stay stratospheric, small companies are finding innovative ways -- beyond solar panels and ski hats -- to cut their electricity bills.

Pine Hall Brick, Winston-Salem, N.C.

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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

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.

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