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.

Big health savings for small businesses

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.