Energy Efficiency – Saving Costs and the Planet
Energy efficiency and carbon reduction go hand in hand. Implementing energy-saving measures in businesses not only reduces operational costs but also contributes to environmental sustainability.
There’s a whole range of energy-saving hints and tips that will benefit your business. Some are more costly and complicated than others, but even small changes in business practices can make a huge difference to your energy consumption.
Here are some energy-saving tips for East Devon businesses:
Conduct an Energy Audit
Knowing your current energy use and where it comes from means you can begin to identify where your business consumes the most energy and plan improvements. If you have already committed to measuring your carbon footprint and making a carbon action plan then this will be a parallel process.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
Heating your premises in winter, and perhaps providing air conditioning in the summer is likely to be one of your business’s main energy costs. There are lots of ways that you can reduce your heating bills, for example:
Upgrade Your Insulation
Industry experts recommend that you carry out all reasonably practicable insulation to your property before looking at more high-tech solutions like alternative energy sources. Most buildings other than new buildings will benefit from some additional insulation. Improving your insulation will make a big difference to your building’s Energy Performance Certification, keeping it in line with increasing expectations for commercial premises.
Upgrading your insulation could deliver instant savings of 25% or more on your energy bills and its relatively low cost means you’ll soon recoup your investment. Simple solutions like loft insulation and boiler and pipe lagging have a very long shelf life.
And when you redecorate, think about how your choice of window treatments and carpets can affect your building’s insulation. Thicker carpets, curtains and draught excluders can all play their part in reducing the energy you need to heat your home.
If your premises are well insulated you will significantly increase the benefit of taking other energy-saving measures, like replacing your gas boiler.
To help you understand where your premises may be losing heat, consider a thermal audit. A thermal audit uses infrared technology to see where your building is losing heat. Poor insulation, and faulty window and door seals can lead to significantly higher energy bills and a less comfortable experience for you and your customers. The good news is that they are often relatively quick and easy to remedy.
Insulation installers will often carry out a thermal imaging audit as part of their assessment of your property.
If your business is in the Sid Valley you may be eligible for a free thermal audit provided by Sidmouth Town Council. Originally available only for residential properties, the Council has recently extended the project to include SMEs with suitable premises. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Time your heating and cooling around the times when customers are likely to be in your building and lower or turn off the HVAC at other times. You might want to consider installing individual adjustable room thermostats and smart technology like motion sensors and timers that recognise when guests have left their accommodation and adjust temperature control accordingly.
Regularly maintain and clean HVAC systems to ensure they operate efficiently. Consider upgrading to energy-efficient models and use programmable thermostats to control temperature settings. If you have a gas boiler, having it serviced regularly could make a major difference to your energy efficiency.
Say Goodbye to Your Gas Boiler
Gas boilers, once the heating method of choice for most businesses, are significantly less energy efficient than alternatives such as heat pumps. Recognising this, the government has introduced legislation to phase out their use, so it may be time for your business to think about making the move to a different form of heating.
Replacing your gas-fired central heating with an air-source heat pump could save your business money and will certainly use less energy (approximately 70% less) to heat your premises. Air source heat pumps don’t run on fossil fuels and only require electricity. Because of the relatively high price of electricity compared to gas, a heat pump may not make your business significant financial savings at this time, but it has other benefits like improving your property’s EPC and environmental credentials. You can find out the relative cost of a heat pump, answers to FAQs and accessible video content on the Energy Saving Trust’s website here.
Biomass boilers use renewable, low-carbon fuel in place of fossil fuels and can provide a viable, off-grid alternative energy source. Many biomass boilers use waste products from agriculture or wood chippings to provide low-carbon, reliable and affordable heating and can be a particularly good choice for businesses in rural areas.
You might want to think about generating your own renewable energy. We have more information on making the move to alternative technologies here. Although the upfront capital costs can be quite high, significant financial incentives often apply.
Think About Glazing
Single-glazed windows, older double-glazing units and poorly sealed window frames can bleed heat into the outside, causing significant energy wastage, while large glass windows in restaurant or retail spaces can become a sun trap making spaces uncomfortably warm in the summer. Think about investing in new double or triple-glazing units. For a cheap fix to the problem of excessive sunlight, reflective window film can all but eliminate your problem.
Lighting and Electrical Appliances
Use Better, Smarter Technology
Switch to energy-efficient lighting technologies, such as LED bulbs. They use 90% less energy and have a lifespan 25 times that of traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. To see how much you could save by switching to LED bulbs, click here.
Use motion sensors for lighting in guest accommodation and public areas like toilets to ensure lights are only on when people are using these spaces. Motion sensors can also be used for outside lighting.
Invest in Energy Efficient Electronics
When replacing your IT equipment and electrical goods, choose energy-efficient models. Look for the product’s energy efficiency rating and check the product information sheet which may provide information on the annual or lifetime cost of running the appliance so you can make comparisons and choose the most efficient option.
Switch It Off!
In your office operations, adjust computer power settings to enable sleep mode during periods of inactivity. Encourage the use of laptops over desktops, as they generally consume less energy.
If you run an accommodation business make sure that your housekeeping staff routinely turn off appliances like televisions in guest rooms.
Energy Saving in the Kitchen
Make sure you know how long your cooking equipment needs to heat up and turn off ovens and extractor fans when not in use.
Defrost your refrigerators regularly, check that seals are firmly in place and think about how often you open and close the fridge door, since most of the power used to cool the refrigerator is used to compensate for door opening.
Think about how much you need to refrigerate items. For example, many businesses may refrigerate drinks for long periods before they serve them, taking up unnecessary space.
Don’t put heating appliances and cooling appliances side by side in the kitchen.
Accommodation providers can adopt a sustainable laundry policy. This means giving the customer the option not to change towels and bed linens every day. Inform your guests about why you are implementing the policy and how they can indicate their laundry preferences. Incentivise sustainable guest choices by offering discounts or other incentives.
Saving hot water in bathing and cleaning can also bring about significant savings. Find out more with our water-saving page, here.
Involve Your Employees
Your employees are your biggest ally and your business’s most important advocate for energy-saving change, so involve them in your efforts. From their experiences, they may be able to suggest changes to processes that will involve significant savings.
Raise awareness among employees about the importance of energy conservation. Encourage them to turn off lights, computers, and other equipment when not in use. Train them in energy-saving practices and provide guidelines for reducing energy consumption in their daily tasks. Some businesses appoint environmental champions to share their passion for making positive change and inspire their colleagues to do the same.
Think about allowing back-office staff to work from home. It will reduce your overheads and provide additional flexibility which will be attractive to many employees.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has 12 quick and low-cost ideas for hotels and other accommodation providers to reduce their energy bills.
The Energy Saving Trust has a great range of resources for businesses.
This VisitEngland webinar contains 5 quick wins for businesses seeking to reduce their energy consumption, as well as tips on finding the right tariff for your business.
The Business Climate Hub has good advice on everything from installing smart meters to making sure that your energy contract is working for you.
If you’ve made innovative changes to reduce your energy use and would be willing to share your experience and inspire others to do the same, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us at email@example.com