Author Topic: Probably a stupid question - can I run a store with no utilities?  (Read 1059 times)


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I know this sounds a little extreme, I bought a small retail building in order to open up a niche store, the goal is to keep operating costs extremely low.

It has electric, gas, and H20 for utilities. Gas furnace (electric blower) and gas water heater. The first full electric bill $103.00, $9.00 of it is supply charges, the rest distribution. 126 kWh used for the month. Even if I use no electricity I am paying almost a hundred dollars a month, so being more energy efficient won't really matter.

I don't know if building codes require electricity to be turned on, but would it be absurd to have the electricity turned completely off and  set up a small solar system? The gas would need to be switched to something that does not require electricity, and I would need to make it cool enough in the summer without AC. Aside from those two obstacles, the only need for electricity would be for lighting.

Stupid idea #2, I only need water for flushing the toilet and hand washing. In theory I could use a rain barrel and bring a few gallons from home, that would save $33.00 a month.

I would have to leave either electricity or gas for heat, gas has a fixed charge of $28.00 a month. If I switched to electric heat I could save that much at least, assuming the efficiency was the same.

If these things are legally allowed, is it at all practical? Will pipes and appliances deteriorate / clog / etc if not being used?

I know this is probably one of those things where if sales can't pay for utilities then you probably shouldn't be in business, but I am still curious if these things are possible, thanks.


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Re: Probably a stupid question - can I run a store with no utilities?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 08:53:04 AM »
This may be an instance where "is it possible/feasible" and "is it permitted" might not generate the same answer.
Without knowing a lot of specifics it is impossible to say whether this could be permitted.

Depending on your location, the size and kind of retail space etc. you may have state and local laws which require you to have running water (e.g. hand-washing, functional toilets, fire-supression systems) and electricity (e.g. illuminated exit signs, a 'well-lit environment'). My last small business was required to have a land-line connection so that we could be contacted by the automatic emergency system (technically we were in a tsunami zone, but I think all businesses had this requirement).
Your municipality might have similar requirements - I'd start there.

As for "can it be done" - sure.  I'd follow similar guidelines for winterizing/"mothballing" unused utilities. Drains don't typically require anything, and gas lines can be shut off and water heaters turned off and drained (with gas you'll need to re-ignite the pilot light if/when you bring it back 'online'). This kind of stuff is routinely done for businesses in very seasonal businesses (like summer tourist towns, summer pools, ski lodges...).