There are various ways to save money on your business energy bills. For example, comparing different suppliers and tariffs and switching to a better deal can help you to significantly cut your spending. A holistic approach to controlling your energy costs will also look at ways to lower your gas and electricity usage.
To help you achieve this, we’ve outlined 25 top energy saving tips for businesses.
1. Carry out an energy audit
If you are serious about driving down energy usage within your organisation, your first step should be to carry out an energy audit. This will involve looking at your whole business and analysing where changes can be made. You may wish to conduct this assessment yourself or bring in a commercial auditor to do the work for you. In the simplest terms, an energy audit involves examining where your company uses energy, how much you’re using and any areas of potential wastage. Once this process has been completed, you can identify effective ways to save energy.
2. Switch equipment off when you’re not using it
Failing to turn appliances off at the mains can cost you big when it comes to wasted energy. For example, figures from the Energy Saving Trust suggest that over a 12-month period, a laser printer can use over £18 when left on standby, while a modem can use more than £6 and a desktop PC can waste nearly £2.50 worth of power. Individually, these figures may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the cost of energy wasted by appliances across your workplace, these figures can really start to mount up. This means it pays to get into the habit of switching equipment off when it’s not being used.
3. Replace inefficient equipment
It may sound like one of the more obvious business energy saving tips, but in fact many business owners are unaware of the huge impact that inefficient equipment is having on their energy bills. By replacing outdated and inefficient appliances with models that have a good energy rating, you stand to make major savings.
4. Make the switch to energy efficient lights
Figures cited by the government suggest that upgrading from conventional lighting to LED technology can save businesses as much as 80 per cent on their lighting bills. As well as being considerably cheaper to run than traditional light bulbs, LEDs also last much longer, bringing further savings.
5. Install lighting timers or sensors
Automatic lighting controls can reduce the amount of electricity wasted due to parts of your workplace being illuminated unnecessarily. For example, you could install timers that mean lights switch off at predetermined times, or you could make use of sensor technology that means lighting turns off automatically when there is no one nearby.
6. Take advantage of natural light
We’re accustomed to using electric lighting throughout the day in many work environments, but often natural daylight can be used in place of artificial illuminations. By opening blinds and taking advantage of skylights and other natural sources of light, you can reduce your electric lighting usage during daylight hours.
7. Cut your water usage
It takes energy to heat and pump water, and so by cutting your water usage, you stand to make power savings. Whether you run a factory, office, hotel or any other type of business, you might benefit from fitting low-flow fixtures in your kitchen and bathrooms. This could include anything from touchless taps, to low-flow shower heads, to waterless urinals.
8. Go paperless
If your business is in the habit of printing lots of documents, now could be the time to consider a move to paperless systems. This will help you to reduce the amount of energy used by your printers. As an added benefit, it will mean you spend less on paper and ink supplies. Going paperless can also be an effective way to show your customers that you are taking steps to become more environmentally friendly.
9. Re-seal windows and doors
Even seemingly tiny gaps around your doors and windows can result in significant heat loss from your premises. To prevent this, you can reseal your doors and windows to block draughts and make your building more effective at retaining heat. It’s not always easy to spot the problem areas, so for the best results, do a walk-around of your premises on a cold, windy day. This will help you to identify gaps that need filling.
10. Improve insulation in your walls and ceiling
Improving insulation in the walls and ceilings of your building isn’t necessarily cheap, but it could make your premises significantly more energy efficient and therefore prove to be a worthwhile investment in the medium to long term. As well as the energy saving benefits associated with a better insulated building, this could help to make your employees more comfortable.
11. Install a programmable thermostat
Keeping your workspace at the right temperature throughout the seasons is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your employees, and it can benefit productivity. This means it’s essential to have an effective heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in place. To make sure yours is providing just the right level of heating and cooling, and therefore not wasting energy, it’s useful to have a programmable thermostat installed. This will make it easy for you to control the temperature.
12. Make sure your HVAC system is in sync with your working hours
It’s also vital to master the controls of your HVAC system and make sure it only operates when you need it to. This means syncing it with your business’ working hours. Simple timer switches ensure this happens automatically. For example, you could set your HVAC system to come on in the morning at just the right time to make sure the temperature of your workplace is comfortable for when employees arrive.
13. Turn your thermostat down
Did you know that lowering the temperature of a workplace by just one degree can cut energy usage by up to eight per cent? By turning your thermostat down just a little in winter, you may therefore be able to make significant savings on your energy bills. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that the temperature of your workplace is comfortable for staff members. As a general guide, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends a temperature of 20°C for offices, 16°C for factories and 18°C for hospitals.
14. Make sure radiators and vents are unobstructed
Your heating system will work more efficiently if you make sure any vents and radiators are unobstructed by items of furniture such as cabinets and desks. So, where possible, avoid putting furniture in front of these heating outlets. For safety reasons, note that electric heaters should never be obstructed as this poses a fire hazard.
15. Don’t heat unused areas
There may be certain areas of your business premises that you don’t use regularly yet are still heated, and this can represent a waste of money and energy. Unless there’s a specific reason why these places need to be heated (for example, to prevent damp), turn any radiators off in unused areas to prevent this wastage.
16. Ensure outer doors are closed where possible in winter
To minimise heat loss in winter, make sure any external doors are shut where possible. If doors must be left open, consider fitting an air curtain above them. This will help to minimise the amount of warm air that escapes and cold air that enters. Another tip is to think about replacing regular doors with revolving designs. These doors provide a barrier against chilly air when people enter and exit your building.
17. Only switch air conditioning on when it’s needed
When it’s warm in your workplace in summer, your first thought might be to turn on your air conditioning. However, consider whether there are effective alternatives first. For example, closing blinds when the sun’s shining can help to keep temperatures in check, and if it’s a breezy day, opening your windows might mean you don’t need to use your air conditioning unit. When you do have to run your air conditioning, keep it as efficient as possible by closing windows and doors.
18. Replace air conditioning filters regularly
Air conditioning units need regular maintenance to keep them working efficiently. Part of this involves ensuring that filters are replaced as and when necessary. If air conditioning filters are left clogged, this means the systems have to use extra power to achieve the same cooling benefits. Consult your system manual to see how often the filters should be replaced.
19. Defrost fridges and freezers regularly
It pays to keep any fridges and freezers in your workplace in good condition. For example, make sure you defrost them at least once a year, or whenever you notice a build-up of ice. Also, try not to overload these appliances. Keeping them very full for much of the time will mean they take more energy to maintain a sufficiently low temperature. It’s also important to remove any objects that might restrict airflow around fridges and freezers.
20. Put your dishwashers on eco-cycles
Whether you’re a catering business that uses dishwashers a lot, or you simply have a dishwasher in your office kitchen that gets used once or twice a day, select eco-cycles to reduce power usage, and only switch the appliances on when they are fully loaded.
21. Invest in microgeneration technology
Producing your own energy through microgeneration technology can help your business to save money and to showcase your green credentials to customers. There are a number of options available, including solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal systems, small-scale wind turbines and biomass solutions. Setting these systems up does require an initial investment, but it could pay dividends over the long term by reducing your reliance on mains energy.
22. Take advantage of energy efficiency loans and grants
Another energy saving business opportunity is to take advantage of grants and loans for energy efficiency projects. The eligibility criteria and availability of business energy saving grants and loans varies, often being dependent upon the size of your organisation, the area you are based in, the market sector you work in, or the product or service you provide. You can search for energy saving grants for businesses, as well as loans, here.
23. Apply for environmental tax cuts
The UK government has various environmental taxes in place to help encourage businesses to operate in more sustainable ways. For example, your company may be entitled to tax deductions or exemptions if you make a conscious effort to embrace energy-efficient technology, or if you’re a small business that doesn’t use much energy. You can visit the government website to discover more about any relevant entitlements.
24. Get your workers involved
Getting buy-in from your workers can be key to achieving real energy savings across your business. To help with this, make sure you train your staff in energy efficient practices, including how to use equipment efficiently. You may also want to place posters around your workplace to remind staff of specific ways to save energy. Additionally, many businesses now appoint employee energy champions who are responsible for coming up with small-scale energy saving business ideas and helping to ensure fellow employees remain enthusiastic about the company’s eco-friendly policies. This can help to get everyone involved in making your company leaner and greener.
25. Keep track of your energy usage
So that you can measure how effective all of your energy saving methods are, make sure you keep a close eye on your power usage. If you have a smart meter, you will find it easier to keep a precise account of how much energy you are using. Monitoring your power usage can help you to see which energy efficiency practices are having the most impact and allow you to refine your approach on an ongoing basis.
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