With many Swindon and Wiltshire businesses feeling the impact of energy costs, reducing energy usage can save you and your business money, as well as helping cut carbon emissions.
The general principle that is recommended is to reduce the amount of heat and energy that is simply lost or wasted. Then when looking at how you use energy, to make use of the most efficient products you can afford.
The first item to check is the insulation of your building(s) and office spaces particularly. Warehouses and manufacturing areas will have different insulation requirements. The best way to know what your energy losses are in your building(s) is to commission a commercial EPC. A list of providers is available at https://www.gov.uk/get-new-energy-certificate .
The output from this report will also tell you what upgrades / changes you can make and an approximate cost and payback time. Remember that money saved on energy costs goes straight on the bottom line. For a business with a profit rate of 5%, a cut in annual energy costs of £1,000 is equivalent to increasing annual turnover by £20,000.
Measure your energy consumption
This is easy to do by installing a Smart meter or in a larger building you may have a Building Energy Management System (BEM). Either of these can be used to check on energy use, either instantaneous or daily/weekly. By using these measures you will see where and when your energy is being used. The actions you take on this will vary, but you may want to check on surges in usage or overnight usage. You can also look at your energy bills which will show you an annual usage of energy - gas or electricity.
The following tips may help you:
1. Stay on top of building and equipment maintenance
Ensuring regular maintenance and servicing of equipment can extend its lifespan as well as improving efficiency, saving you money in the long term. It’s also important for business continuity. Have you thought about how you would manage if something broke down?
This goes for large machinery through to the fridge in the staff area. Even keeping the coils behind the fridge dust-free can make cooling more energy-efficient and save money on your electricity bill.
Keep a log of servicing dates and, when the time comes to invest in new equipment, make sure you choose wisely, as energy-efficient purchases will save you money in the long run.
Ensure the fabric of the building(s) is checked for damage, for example if the roof or walls are made of lightweight materials. It can be worth having a thermographic camera survey, which will highlight any parts of the external fabric of your building(s) that are letting excess heat out.
If possible, consider adding more insulation to walls and your roof. Upgrading your windows will help as well.
2. Make your lighting more efficient
Replacing fluorescent (including CFL) and halogen lighting with LED lighting will provide big savings.
BEIS calculates that a 100 metre square shop which replaces 25 36W T8 fluorescent light fittings with 25 18 watt LEDs could save £440 a year (see more on this example here). This will pay for itself in less than two years.
You should consider installing motion sensors or timers, to make sure lights are only on when they’re needed, or simply by asking people to make sure they turn out the lights when they leave a room and at the end of the day.
3. Laptops or Desktops
With more people working from home, many businesses have invested in laptops instead of desktop computers. As well as giving staff flexibility, using laptops can help reduce your business’s energy consumption: the annual cost of running a laptop for eight hours per day can be more than £200 per year less than the equivalent cost for a desktop.
If you do have desktop computers, make sure they’re switched off when not in use – leaving them on overnight could be costing you about £35 a year for every machine.
4. Check the Energy Technology List before making a purchase
The Energy Technology List provides details of over 10,000 energy saving products, from lighting to 55 other categories – for businesses and the public sector. The purpose of the list is to help businesses identify energy-efficient products easily and accurately. Note that before 2020, these products also were allowed in an Enhanced Capital Allowance program.
The list is updated twice a month by the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and all products are vetted before being added.
5. Regulate the temperature
Legally, you’re required to provide your employees with a workplace that’s a ‘reasonable’ temperature (usually a minimum of 16℃), which can mean turning the heating up in winter. Oddly there is no upper temperature limit, though over 30℃ will be uncomfortable, so you could need to use fans or air conditioning during the summer.
These are a few ways you can reduce your heating and cooling costs:
Set the thermostat to keep the temperature within an acceptable range and if possible, reduce the temperature by 1 degree, which can save up to 8% on heating bills.
- Position desks nearby but not in front of heaters or radiators
- Move anything placed in front of radiators, like cabinets
- Check draught-proofing to see if windows and doors letting heat out
- Turn radiators off or down in unused areas
- Closing windows when the air conditioning is on
- Clean air outlets on air conditioning units or fans
A very detailed guide on Energy Efficiency for business is available here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417410/DECC_advice_guide.pdf
6. Where possible, avoid energy wastage
- Try to position chilled cabinets away from external doors.
- Install evaporative condensers, instead of air-cooled condensers, to get rid of heat. Evaporative condensers use a wet filter that increases the ability to remove heat.
- Keep your exterior and goods doors closed as much as possible. Don’t turn up the air con and leave the doors or windows wide open!
- Rather than using kettles and a water cooler, use a water tap that provides instant cold and hot water