With many businesses still suffering from the harsh economic climate, the rising cost of fuel is unwelcome. Thankfully, there are ways to save on light and heating - many are very simple and even free.
As a starting point, assess your workplace. Are lights left on in empty rooms or equipment left on when not in use? Are employees wearing T-shirts in January? Has the air-conditioning been turned on because people are too hot? All these things can be rectified at no cost, simply turning off lights or equipment when not in use or turning down heating can make a big difference.
To truly understand how much energy your workplace is leaking, invest in a Commercial Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These cost £200 and will highlight problems – and tell you how to rectify them. If you rent an office or manufacturing facility, this is down to your landlord. They should have presented you with a Commercial EPC when you moved in.
An energy-efficiency drive needs the support of the whole business, so get everyone involved. Incentivise energy-saving acts with rewards for cutting costs. You can ask your utility provider to help out here, too, by providing details of energy used before and after you made the changes. Beyond energy used within the workplace, you could also encourage your staff to walk or cycle to work and do simple things such as cut down paper use and recycle more.
Smart meters monitor electricity used and equate this into pounds and pence. They are a great way to get people to understand the true cost of boiling a kettle. Currently being rolled out across the UK over the next 10 years or so, some electricity providers already offer them for free.
When it comes to lighting, apart from energy saving bulbs, there are low-energy options available and, if you can’t trust employees to switch things off, motion-sensor lighting can provide a great solution.
A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost a business more than £50 a year. Switching it off out of hours and enabling standby features could cut this to £15 per annum, according to the Carbon Trust.
Get to grips with the timer and thermostat on your heating system, but don’t switch it off completely – warming up a freezing cold room wastes more energy than keeping a low-base temperature. Switching your thermostat down by one degree could save 8 per cent on your heating bill.
If you haven’t got a condensing boiler – consider making the investment. Heating controls can further optimise efficiency, taking into account things such as computers and lighting that give out a lot of heat. Talk to a Gas Safe Registered engineer to find out more.
Make sure all radiators are free of obstruction from furniture; invest in draught proofing and some thick curtains.
Next year, the Green Deal will provide insulation for ‘free’, paid back through utility bills, more information can be found on the Department of Energy and Climate Change website. The Carbon Trust also offers interest-free loans for energy saving measures.
Shop around for a better deal and negotiate – they all want your business so you might get a special offer. If you really want to ‘go green’ look at where your energy comes from, too.
To reduce your carbon footprint you could invest in renewable technologies. Feed in Tariffs give cash back for electricity generating technologies. Next year a similar scheme is being launched for heat generating renewables. Make sure you employ Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited engineers, because you won’t have access to these initiatives unless qualified trades people install your equipment.
Mark Krull, Logic4training
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