This is a short guide created to identify actions that you can make in your business that will result in energy and cost savings that can be easily applied with little or no cost. Almost all businesses could use less energy, even low and no-cost actions can reduce energy costs by at least 10% and produce quick returns.

Look around your business

If you want to identify the areas where it is possible to make energy savings, it is essential to start by looking at the area it is currently used. Have a walk around the office in an attempt to recognise what areas are wasting energy and what your opportunities for saving are.

The areas to look at are heating lighting, office equipment, and if applicable, factory and warehouse equipment. Every businesses pattern of energy use differs throughout the day, so it is useful to conduct a series of different walk rounds and to vary the times that they are carried out. By doing this, you will see a clearer picture of when and where energy might be wasted. Comparing the findings of the walk around with meter data that will help to pinpoint areas of high energy use. It is very important to prioritise energy saving actions once they have been identified rather that attempting to tackle them all at once. We find that those with the biggest saving potential or least disruption to the business will help you decide this. In future, plan walk rounds when the clocks change and remember to adjust your heating controls at these times.

Lighting

When on your walk round, consider what type of fluorescent tubes you have in use. Research different lighting options, for example 26 mm diameter slim line florescent tubes use 10% less electricity and are cheaper to buy than 38mm tubes. Further savings? Install new high frequency fluorescent lightening that eliminates flickers and hum, extends lamp life and can often reduce consumption by around 25%.

Such a simple tip like checking whether lamp, fittings and roof lights are clean can help make significant energy savings as dirty shades can greatly reduce lighting levels.

Heating

Overheating occurs because we heat areas that do not need to be warmed. For example, are you keeping your corridors warm? Overheating can also be the result of poor control of heating systems. Avoiding as much heat loss as possible through improving insulation and draught control can also significantly cut heating bills.

  • By maintaining your boiler, heating costs can reduce by about 30%. Ensure that your heaters and boilers are serviced at least annually and are adjusted for optimum efficiency.
  • One of the most expensive sources of energy are portable heaters. If you do have to run them, install a time switch so they turn themselves off after a set time period.
  • Avoid heaters and air conditioning units operating in the same space. Simultaneous heating and cooling of a space is commonplace and wastes money. Set a 'dead band' of 5°C between heating and cooling to avoid that happening.
  • Consider installing local instantaneous water heater where small quantities of hot water are required a long way from the main heating plant. This may also let the boiler to be switched off in the summer.
  • Insulate all hot water tanks, boilers, valves and pipework unless they provide useful heat to occupied spaces.
  • Consider whether all areas have the same heating requirements – consider heating your building in zones. Areas such as storerooms, corridors or areas where there is a high level of physical activity require less heat.
  • Think about your thermostats – they should generally be set at 19-20°C. Are they placed in the right location? Ideally this is away from draughts and direct sunlight.
  • Time controls – are you using them correctly? Is the heating only coming on when you need?

Offices

  • Make sure your computers have in-built energy saving features – the best known one is ENERGY STAR rating, whereby equipment automatically enters a low power mode after a pre-set amount of time
  • Keep in mind that screensavers do not save energy. They only save the screen image from burning when the image does not change for a long period.
  • Don't leave your computers running. Switching computers off at nights and weekends can reduce their energy consumption by 75%. Amazingly if you were to turn the monitor off when it's not being used (lunchtime, away to a meeting, etc.) and standby is activated energy consumption is then reduced to 90% per year.
  • A photocopier left on overnight uses enough energy to make over 5,000 A4 copies. Turn it off!
  • Place any photocopiers in areas that are naturally ventilated where possible. This will help avoid any air conditioning plant having to compensate for the associated heat gains.

Factory/Warehouse

  • Is your compressor running? Many factories will run their compressor for most of the day… even when this isn't needed and are blissfully unaware of how much this is costing them. Encourage staff to switch off the compressor when not in use.
  • Switch off any electrical equipment that doesn't have to be on.
  • Have a Higher Efficiency Motor fitted – these now cost no more than a normal motor and can save you 3-5% of your running cost.
  • Do you have Variable Speed Drives fitted to equipment? In many cases, using a VSD to reduce the speed of a pump or a fan by just 20% can halve its running cost.

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