The benefits of an energy efficient workplace
With customers, employees, and stock among the hundreds of other things small business managers need to concern themselves with, energy use might not be top of their priority list.
But improving your business’s energy efficiency could actually be one of the most effective ways to save money without impacting performance. Alongside people and premises, energy costs are among the top three expenses that small business incur, and amount to £15bn annually for the UK’s SMEs.
Potential savings in this area can be significant. Most business stand to save between 10 and 30% by making simple changes to their business that won’t affect service or comfort. Those sort of numbers could be the difference between keeping a business going and turning a healthy profit.
So how can businesses improve their energy efficiency? We’ve compiled some of the simplest and most effective ways to cut energy costs for small UK businesses.
Shop around for the best suppliers
While domestic customers are becoming more savvy about doing their homework before committing to an energy supplier, some businesses are lagging behind. There is a regulated and competitive retail energy market in most developed countries, and businesses that search for the best deal can often find substantial savings with no extra effort required on their part. If your business has been established for some time, you may well be on a tariff that can be improved, so check out your options.
Monitor energy usage (and make it fun!)
Smart meters are becoming ubiquitous and offer opportunities for businesses to better understand their costs. You can see in real-time how much energy you are using and your daily costs, so that you can spot trends for different shifts, days, or seasons.
Get your employees involved and see who can run the most efficient shift. Encourage and reward staff for coming up with ideas for how to reduce usage further and make some of these tips part of a regular routine.
Get sensible with sensors
Smart technology can help reduce your energy use by controlling temperature and lighting automatically. If your office is occupied an hour a day, while you’re rushing around the hotel for the rest of it, occupancy sensors can save on lighting costs by dimming or turning off the lights when you’re not in.
Stay on top of maintenance
HVAC systems, appliances, chimneys, and more can all be serious drains on your energy if they’re not working efficiently. Keep up to date with regular inspections for any large consumers of energy and make sure they’re running smoothly. The same goes for drains and pipes, where leaks can quickly prove costly.
The lifetimes of commercial equipment are often much longer and more use-intensive than for domestic equivalents, so it makes sense to spend a little more on the most energy-efficient models in return for substantial recurring savings.
LED light bulbs should be standard, as they consume less than a quarter of the energy of halogen bulbs, and don’t forget the lighting in signs and displays, which are often overlooked. For bigger appliances, compare EU energy labels, especially for appliances that will be in use often or constantly.
Finally, use nature’s free energy when you can! Open windows for cooling breezes in summer and make use of natural light where you can. Not only is it free, but it can improve health and morale as well as giving your business a more friendly feel.