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Cutting energy costs for your business: How to save money as oil and gas prices soar

business-articlesCutting energy costs for your business: How to save money as oil and gas prices soar
Energy prices in 2022 have skyrocketed. This has seen operating costs for most businesses soar, at a time when many firms are already struggling to attract customers amid a cost of living crunch.

While energy prices might be out of your control, there are a few behavioural amendments that can be made to help reduce your costs and stay competitive.


 

Short-term fixes: best practice at work

A 2013 study by The Carbon Trust found that UK workplaces could save more than £300m per year if they educated employees on the benefits of energy efficiency: today, this figure could be even higher. Reports suggest that a business simply stating its intention to be eco-minded is enough to make colleagues more aware of their own individual actions.

You don’t need to hire an expensive motivational speaker, just make a few suggestions and perhaps put some reminders up around the office. Measures you might suggest include:
 
  1. Turn off appliances at the plug
While in may seem nonsensical, devices can still use power when plugged into the mains, even if they’re not turned on. The energy this uses is often referred to as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire’ energy.
 
  1. Close doors to conserve heat
Radiators, electric panel heaters and convection heaters work by creating a convection current, via which hot air rises, cools, then sinks – travelling around the room in a loop. If doors are left open, the loop is broken and the hot air escapes.
 
  1. Turn off lights when not in use
Whichever light bulbs you use, they’ll only cost you when they’re switched on. Remind employees to turn off the light in toilets, kitchenettes and staff rooms when they’re not in use.
 
  1. Keep heaters and air vents clear of obstruction
This piece of advice may be flouted by those wanting to warm up their coats or jackets – however, obstructing airflow around both heaters and air conditioning units reduces their efficiency as well as causing a potential fire hazard.


 

Long-term fixes to improve energy efficiency

Some of the most effective ways to reduce your energy spend involve a bit of restructuring and in some cases, an initial outlay. It may help to think of the upfront expense as an investment – the savings in the long run will most likely exceed the initial fee.
 
  1. Install secondary glazing
Specialist secondary glazing helps stop heat escaping, meaning less energy is needed to maintain the temperature of a room. The average cost is £640 per window – but a package deal could cost considerably less.

If double glazing is outside your budget right now, lining the inside of the windows with clingfilm works as a stop-gap solution.
 
  1. Manage hot water usage
If your workplace has a gas, oil or LPG heating system, set the system timer so that you’ll only use hot water when you need it. If the boiler is electric and has an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, heat water during the night when it’s cheaper.

If you’re spending a lot with your current boiler, it might be worth replacing it altogether. Combi boilers can be more efficient than standard boilers in an environment where not much water is being used.
 
  1. Minimise energy loss
There are multiple ways to ensure you’re not losing energy unnecessarily.

Smart meters monitor the energy you’re using and show how much it costs, helping you to identify where you could cut back. They are also available for small businesses.

You may also want to consider installing thermostatic radiator valves. These allow individual radiators to be programmed so that you can minimise heating in rooms you’re not using.
 
  1. Use more efficient equipment
If cavity wall insulation and energy-efficient landscaping are out of the question, there are smaller swaps to consider which can also save money.

You could save a fair amount by switching lightbulbs – and do your bit for the planet, too. Replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)s, fluorescent T-12 lamps with T-8 electronic lamps and standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) - these use up to 75% less energy and last 25 years longer.

In bathrooms and kitchen areas, install aerators on taps to limit water flow, or if you can stretch to it, invest in timed or motion-sensor taps that will turn off automatically when not in use.


 

Institutional changes to minimise spending

Finally: some of the best ways to increase energy efficiency require implementing changes at an institutional level.

A big change – and one which many business-owners have already clocked onto – is to implement remote or hybrid working. By minimising the number of staff in the office at any one time, you will be using less energy: less water use, less heating, fewer monitors and other electrical equipment.

You may also be able to downsize to smaller premises – with lower overheads - or rent out your office space when it’s not being used by staff.

Something else to consider is the scheduling of a regular audit to ascertain where you can improve efficiency on a regular basis. If you’ve implemented all the measures above, it may seem there’s nothing else to be done – but technology changes constantly and its likely there will be more opportunities to save energy as new innovations come onto the market.

Regular audits can also be a useful reminder not to slip back into bad habits – being reminded of the effects of absent-minded behaviour is a sure-fire way to inspire greater mindfulness of energy consumption.
 
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