For cash-strapped small businesses, every penny counts. Which is why saving energy – and cash – could be the key to staying in the black
With Storm Imogen being the latest of many this season, it’s safe to say we’ve seen massive changes in the weather this winter. Naturally we use more energy around this time of year – both at home and at work. But how often do we really think about how much we consume? According to the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, buildings use almost 50% of the UK’s energy – and about 20% of this is needlessly wasted. Fortunately, here are some top tips that’ll help lower your energy consumption – not to mention your bills – this winter.
First of all, it’s important to recognise screensavers don’t reduce energy usage. Most computers and display screens allow a specified time delay before powering down automatically. This will generally increase equipment life, reduce power consumption, reduce office heat gain and shouldn’t affect companies’ computer networks.
Remember to check energy ratings when considering what equipment to buy for your business. Cheaper equipment can be a false economy as upfront savings are offset by high running costs.
Photocopiers, printers and hot drink vending machines include heaters to keep the appliance near operating level to save time. An inexpensive time switch to shut the machines down overnight can significantly reduce energy use, yet leave the machines ready to use during office hours.
Make sure you maximise the use of daylight in your building. This can easily be achieved by cleaning windows and skylights regularly.
Swap out inefficient lighting for modern, energy efficient alternatives; for example, replace T12 and T8 lamps with energy efficient T5 linear fluorescent or LED lamps.
Get your lighting levels checked – are they inappropriately high for the task? Introducing local task lighting may reduce glare and energy use. It may also be possible to remove some of your light fittings and still achieve the light levels you need.
According to the Carbon Trust, heating costs rise by about 8% for each 1C of overheating. So check space heating controls and thermostat temperatures regularly. Good practice suggests temperatures are 16C for warehousing, 16–18C for light manufacturing and 19–20C for offices.
Spaces with high ceilings can suffer high temperatures at high level, known as stratification, particularly with warm air heaters. Fitting ceiling fans can help de-stratify the air, reducing roof heat losses and improving comfort.
Tall, poorly insulated buildings, such as factories and warehouses, are often best heated with direct-fired radiant tube heaters.
Seal doors and windows by using inexpensive self-adhesive draught excluders or brush strips to reduce air infiltration. Entrance doors can add substantially to heat loss so ensure external doors have automatic closures. At busy doorways, consider fitting a draught lobby or porch.
Plastic strip curtains reduce heat loss and create a visual security barrier at loading bays and service doors, yet still allow easy access. Rapid roller shutters reduce loading bay heat loss by automatically opening and shutting using presence detectors, causing little inconvenience to deliveries.
So, now you’re armed with these little pointers, perhaps think about appointing an ‘energy champion’ to develop energy saving initiatives and set reduction targets. You can then start to measure and review and hopefully will soon see your energy bills falling.
This article comes courtesy of Total Gas & Power, the business energy supplier.