19 Jan 2022
Reducing energy consumption and costs in the workplace are hot topics amongst business owners and colleagues. Not just because of our green credentials, bills are also set to rise this year due to energy prices rising on international finance markets. Energy use has come into sharp focus lately as we’ve realised even minor adjustments can have a massive impact on lowering energy waste. Turning down the heating by one degree, turning off lights, using low energy bulbs, using dimmer switches, opening windows rather than relying on air conditioning are just some of the minor adjustments we can make that cause significant reductions. Today would be the ideal time to begin an energy audit for your business or in your place of work to see what cash and energy savings are possible.
Suppose you’re a business owner or management who has overall responsibility for energy consumption and bills. In that case, you need to organise an energy audit looking at every aspect of your energy consumption. You could target reducing your firm’s bills by 10% over the year and work out how to achieve this.
You can make a start by listing where money gets spent, for instance, vehicle fuel, gas bills, electricity bills, and you can also compare your business to the average microbusiness user if the comparison is relevant. Then you need to compile a list of what vehicles and appliances use the energy and where you can make cuts.
For instance, can you buy route planning software to organise vehicle routes more efficiently? Can you buy a smart meter to learn which times of the day the firm’s energy use rises and make adjustments?
Most of the changes you can make are common sense, but they might require commitment and compliance from your staff or fellow employees to enact. It’s important not to lose sight of the energy savings staff can make outside of the business, and as management or the business owner, you can help with this.
Can you offer subsidies to use public transport or become involved in the bike to work scheme? When you and your team are united in your efforts to reduce energy consumption, you’ll discover that business cutbacks are easier to implement.
Here’s a list of five business energy-saving tips that should be simple to implement and result in cost-cutting. If most of the suggestions get acted on, the cost savings could be considerable.
1. Generate electricity independently
2. Replace old appliances with A-rated products
3. Adjust temperatures
4. Switch from artificial light to daylight
5. Install insulation
If you own your building or the leaseholder allows it, can you install solar panels to generate your energy from green sources? Depending on the size of your business, you could consider an independent wind turbine. Although the first outlay can be significant for such installations, the cost savings can be substantial within a five-ten-year period.
You should also check with your local council or Ofgem to see if any grants are available to help with the cost. There might be government incentives too.
Appliances such as dishwashers, fridges, washing machines and dryers are cheap nowadays. £300 buys you a quality dishwasher. For less than £200, you can buy a fridge-freezer that’ll store a week’s office food.
Is there justification, and does your firm have the budget to replace old appliances with new ones in the knowledge that the A ratings will reduce energy consumption? It’s also worth noting that ratings have become more granular; from March 2021, the old A to A+++ rating was replaced with an A to G rating.
Replacing the appliances is just one measure; you and your colleagues need to check and reduce your use of the devices. For example, only use the dishwasher when the racks are filled, or make a rule it only goes on once a day. Similarly, you could turn down the thermostat on the fridge-freezer from perhaps 5 to 2. A modern machine should be more efficient at lower rates. And overall, you should switch off devices such as washing machines, dryers and dishwashers from the wall sockets when not in use.
Would we experience a dramatic temperature difference if we turned our central heating down by two degrees in winter? Or if we didn’t have the air conditioning working at total capacity during the summer months? If you have a large office or warehouse space to keep warm, this temperature reduction could add significant savings to the firm’s energy bills.
Also, why not think of other ways to regulate the temperature during various seasons. How about using the office blinds in winter to keep heat in and in summer to shield the sun and keep the space cool? Think about door use; you could perhaps keep doors wide open in summer to allow cooler air to circulate or close them to ensure the cool aircon air remains where it’s needed most. Keep windows closed in winter and open them during summer.
You could also find hot and cold spots in the working spaces and adjust your furniture to make it more comfortable for staff. No one wants to work if sunlight is shining in your face for several hours of the day.
Regarding heating and aircon, you might want to consider getting the central or electrical heating serviced regularly, and you need to make sure the aircon gets cleaned annually. The aircon can collect dirt and dust, and dirty recirculated air can be a health hazard.
It’s a habit most of us have adopted; we walk into a slightly darkened room and reach for the light switch. You could consider using no artificial light, perhaps reducing it by half, or only using it at certain times of the day. Many laptops and personal computers have screens and keyboards that light up, and you’d be surprised how quickly our eyes adjust to lower lightning.
We probably don’t need as much lighting as we’ve become accustomed to, and some staff mightn’t realise that too much artificial light can cause health issues such as migraines.
You can look to make many energy savings, but poorly fitting windows and doors leak a lot of heat and are perhaps the most overlooked issues and the most cost-effective to put right. Insulation tape and door stops and door brushes don’t cost much, and it’s a job you and a few colleagues can take care of without bringing in specialists.
There are different grades of insulation you can consider, and you could also think about extra secondary glazing on windows even if they’re double glazed.
We’ve mentioned window blinds above, and it might be worth discovering if the blinds also have insulation properties, would adding curtains in some spaces also work to cut down heat leakage? It might be worth replacing the old blinds with new ones if you think there’s a possible gain.
Carpets and tiles can also be a form of insulation; they don’t just stop your feet from getting cold. Depending on what type of flooring you choose, they help trap heat during the colder months and cool in summer.
While you conduct the energy audit, you need to check you’re on the best tariffs for the business. Energy savings are essential to good management, but you should investigate the possibility of financial improvement. Click here to begin a comparison to see if it’s time to switch energy suppliers and if better tariffs are available for a business in your sector.
Some of the suggestions discussed will require funding. Renewable energy installations like solar panels, new appliances, flooring, blinds, insulation, aircon maintenance etc., can add up to a sizable sum.
Once you’ve completed your energy audit, you might need funding to achieve the targets. At Funding Options, we’re committed to a sustainable future which is why we’ve teamed up with many green lenders. So why not click here to explore your funding options?
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