As the colder weather approaches, for many businesses so does the prospect of an increase in energy usage. During the winter months companies waste around half a billion pounds on energy. The need to keep workers warm and buildings well-lit means many often face expensive gas and electricity bills.
For this reason we’ve put together 10 top energy saving initiatives that can help you prevent energy bill spikes in the coming months.
Make sure you’re only heating up rooms that are used every day. Areas that have low and sporadic usage, such as meeting rooms, conference facilities and storage cupboards, should have their heating turned down until they’re occupied. Also consider reducing the temperature in hallways and stairwells, as these are never used for more than a couple minutes at a time.
You often don’t need to fully heat buildings when your workforce has gone home. So make sure you have programmable or smart thermostats installed to turn down the heat during ‘out of office’ hours. Position thermostats in appropriate locations e.g away from places where heat fluctuates such as in direct sunlight, draughts or near radiators.
It’s not easy to please everyone with the ‘right’ room temperature, but wasteful use of heating and cooling costs money. Turning the thermostat down by just 1°C can cut heating bills by around 10%, therefore a little experimentation could see significant savings! 18°C -21°C is an appropriate temperature range for most people. Start at the lower end and increase by one degree each week to give your staff and customers time to adjust.
At the same time keep an eye out for open windows. This is a good indicator that the heating is up too high, or if you have a BMS, that is isn’t adjusting to outside temperatures. Investigate further to prevent unnecessary energy wastage.
Shorter periods of daylight mean we use internal lighting much more during the winter months, so you need to be smarter in terms of what lighting you use and how you use it.
Start simple and ensure light switches are clearly labelled with reminders to turn lights off when they’re not needed. Also be sure to swap out any flickering fluorescent bulbs, as these can use up more energy.
Consider the installation of motion detectors to control lighting in areas with low usage, such as bathrooms and meeting rooms. Sensor lights can help you use significantly less electricity, but only if they’re working correctly, so make sure to check them regularly.
Finally, if your internal and external lighting is controlled by a BMS, don’t forget to check that timings are correct to winter daylight hours.
It seems obvious, but your boiler, heating system, thermostats or BMS will only work efficiently if they are regularly serviced and in tip-top condition. If your systems haven’t been examined for over a year, it’s time to arrange a service visit. At the same time get engineers to check how your systems are programmed and make sure they are set to work at their optimum efficiency for your building’s operating hours and occupancy levels.
Winter is also a great time to get your air conditioning systems serviced and if needed, a TM44 air conditioning inspection completed (air condition systems must be checked, by law, every five years). Ask us for a quote today.
Insulation is a good investment to help your business save energy. Check that your walls, ceilings, windows, boilers and pipes are all sufficiently insulated. Older buildings in particular may have ineffective insulation, so it’s important to get it checked out and updated if necessary.
Small gaps around windows and doors or leaks in ducting not only allow heat to escape but also bring cause to turn up the heating. Address the source of the draft by re-sealing windows and doors, before making any adjustments to the heating system.
Leaving computers, laptops and other electrical equipment on ‘stand-by’ is not the same as switching them off. Over the course of a year, a single desktop computer and PC monitor will use-up over £6.00 of electricity, just while they’re left on standby. Multiply that up by your entire workforce and there’s a big annual saving to be made. At the same time, consider the types of equipment you’re investing in for the future. For example, did you know that laptops consume 90% less energy than desktop computers? Make sure you purchase items with the Energy Star logo to guarantee their energy efficiency.
Smart meters provide real-time energy consumption data for your business as a whole, or for individual buildings or assets. Whether your site includes one building or 50, smart meters can help you take control of your energy usage. Ask us about the monitoring and targeting systems we can offer today.
However the installation of a smart meter alone will not save you energy. The real savings come by using the data to analyse your energy usage and making improvements based on your findings.
With increased energy usage over the winter months, monitoring and targeting may help you understand where and how you are consuming energy so you can make changes. You’ll also benefit from no more estimated billing or needing to provide meter readings.
There are currently a wide range of grants available across the country for businesses to access and utilise to improve their energy efficiency. Contact your local Regional Development Agency, county or local council to investigate what’s on offer. Individual industry sectors also frequently have their own funding for green projects.
Keeping energy consumption in check can be a real challenge for businesses during the winter, but with a few simple changes around the building, you could see a positive effect on the bottom line of your energy bills. Whilst investment in new technologies and paying for equipment servicing isn’t always welcome, in the long-term their pay-off will be significant.