Energy Efficient Businesses: Saving the planet as well as business costs
The global climate crisis is one of the defining issues of our lifetime and we don’t have to look far to see its impact on the world we now live in. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is warming our planet, throwing its natural rhythm out of balance – raising our temperatures and sea levels, causing an increasing number of natural weather anomalies and disasters.
As a business, we believe that fundamental change is needed at a legislative, business and individual level if we are to preserve the beautiful planet we inhibit for future generations. We also believe that as an energy supplier to businesses across the UK, we have a moral obligation to consider the impact that not only our business, but the businesses we supply to, have on the world we live in.
In this blog, we explore the steps that businesses can take – to reduce their carbon footprint through efficient energy strategies, as well as save money on energy costs.
1. SWITCH ELECTRICITY SUPPLY TO A RENEWABLE SUPPLIER
The single most impactful change you can make as a business is to switch your electricity provider to a company that purchases its’ supply from renewable energy sources. Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily translate to an increase in unit cost. It’s important to select a supplier that ONLY supplies renewable power. While many suppliers offer a renewable option, the reality is that you’ll end up paying more to “upgrade” to renewable.
At UGP for example, 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources including wind, hydro and solar power and our rates are highly competitive in the market – against renewable and non-renewable competitors so we’re confident that we can save you money, as well as helping you do your bit for the planet.
2. UPGRADING EQUIPMENT
Upgrading to energy efficient office equipment such as machinery and IT equipment is one of the simplest ways that businesses can reduce energy usage as most organisations operate some kind of equipment upgrading cycle. To cut energy usage, make sure that the replacement equipment you choose has the best energy efficiency rating as possible.
You might also want to consider installing smart systems and automation technology which can help to set temperatures across multiple zones of your premises as well as set timers for lighting and other building functions that can save unnecessary energy use.
Sensors can also be helpful, particularly with regards to lighting. When installed, lights in a room can be set to a default “off” position but switch on automatically when someone enters the room.
3. UPGRADE YOUR PREMISES
Whatever type of business you run, it’s possible to save energy and lower your bills in almost every building and room in your premises. While it may require some initial investment, the long-term benefits will far outweigh the short-term cost.
Consider replacing every lightbulb currently in use with a more energy efficient option – a simple, low-cost way to save money over time. Energy-efficient LED lights are more expensive to purchase than other alternatives but over time will make savings. You can also save money by replacing your boiler with a more energy-efficient model. The best energy rates available cannot make up for the fact that energy efficient boilers use up to 30% less energy than their less efficient counterparts.
By auditing all of the appliances in your building including air conditioning units, refrigeration equipment and tackling multiple areas of potential saving, the impact can be significant.
4. REDUCE HEAT LOSS
One of the most frustrating issues that can send costs sky rocketing is losing heat via your building. The benefits that securing great energy rates, as well as any benefits from investment in energy efficient equipment will be negated if much of your energy is wasted through inadequately insulated buildings.
Addressing this issue is fairly simple but it requires some initial investment. Effective insulation is a must, including cavity wall and loft insulation, insulation around pipes and hot water tanks and double-glazed windows if you don’t already have them, as well as draught proofing windows and doors. Automatic closing doors can also be incredibly helpful at avoiding heat loss if a door is accidentally or absentmindedly left open.
Doing whatever you can to help reduce heat loss will have a marked impact on your energy usage, carbon footprint and fuel bills.
5. IMPROVE BUSINESS POLICIES & MOTIVATING EMPLOYEES
Your employees can have a significant impact on how much energy you use, therefore impacting your carbon footprint and bills. Even if you make all of the changes in points 1-4 of this article, you may still pay too much and have an unnecessary high carbon footprint if your employees leave computers running when not in use, set the heating too high or fill the kettle full when only making one cup of tea.
It’s important to involve your team in all your energy saving initiatives to get their buy in, and it might also be worth setting an internal energy saving policy to reinforce this message. Establishing policies is a great way to give structure to your efforts, as well as guidelines for your employees. You could also set incentives around energy saving initiatives as a way to boost motivation and compliance.
Here are some of the things your employees can do to make a difference to your energy consumption and environmental impact:
- Turn off IT equipment (computers, chargers etc) when not in use – employees need to be aware what they can and can not turn off
- Develop a tea rota ensuring the kettle is only boiled once for multiple people
- Encourage a paperless office – it not only saves paper, but also energy that would be needed for running your printing facilities
- Turning off lights when vacating infrequently used rooms and areas such as meeting rooms
- Activate energy saving features on computers, laptops and other equipment putting devices into hibernation mode (avoiding screensavers)
- Have a system for turning off equipment and lights overnight
- Encourage a purchasing policy that favours suppliers and third parties who operate to the same environmental standards as your business – thus spreading your environmental impact reduction further than solely your business
- Regularly test equipment to make sure it is operating at maximum efficiency
In the UK, more and more of our energy comes from low carbon and renewable sources each year. Between January and May 2019, Britain generated more power from clean energy than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. In 2018, carbon-free sources of electricity, including nuclear and renewables, accounted for almost 50% of total electricity production in the UK.
UK plc has the power to make a measurable difference to our nations environmental impact. Businesses that follow the principles of energy efficiency in this article will not only help keep our planet safe for future generations, they’ll save a small fortune whilst doing so.