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Saving On Your Business Energy: The Ultimate Guide

The electricity and gas bills for a company are always stumbling blocks. Ofgem have stated that small companies pay 50% more for their energy than larger businesses on average, possibly due to bigger businesses having bigger negotiating clout, or having more specialised staff that know where to look for the best deals. That being said, the larger companies have the resources to save on energy in every way, and often use it to the best of their ability.

There is a lot of money to be saved in terms of energy, especially for a company financial might of its competitors, or even a non-profit one. It’s definitely beneficial for any business to look into how to cut costs (and help the environment). Here’s a few pointers:

Before we start, we’d like to say that switching provider is the fastest and most dramatic change you can make to save on your business energy- and results are fast. Click below for a free quote using our comparison service (the process takes under a minute!)

Appliances

Get new ones with a higher energy rating

Energy efficiency in home appliances are no secret, and people often try to upgrade theirs whenever possible to save on their electric costs. In the workplace, however, this sometimes isn’t the case. It’s definitely a large investment to buy a state-of-the-art, A+++ fridge (which would still pay for itself over time), but even just looking at marginally higher ratings when your current fridge meets its untimely end is worth consideration. Dishwashers are another appliance that deserves some thought. You can find a short article from Green Choices explaining what the labels on your appliances mean here.

Turn off the microwave between uses

This is a short one. Microwaves often use more energy to power the little clock on the front than it does to actually cook food, just because it’s on all day. This can be fixed easily.

Don’t put too much water in the kettle

People are creatures of habit, and love to fully fill up the kettle before making a cup of tea. However, did you know that the kettle is one of the most energy eating appliances in the kitchen? Boiling a litre or two of water for a cup of tea is a waste, and doing this over and over again during the day really racks up unnecessary money on the water bill and the electricity bill. Try boiling a mugs worth next time, and tell your staff to do the same!

Turn down the fridge

This one isn’t very obvious, but a lot of company kitchens have their fridges at almost freezing temperature. This isn’t necessary, and could be costing you a bomb- especially as a restaurant or other place with large food storage costs. The most common recommended settings are somewhere between -25.5°C and -22°C for freezers and 1.6°C to 3.3°C for fridges.

Top tip:

Even if you’re within the recommended temperature range, turn your fridge down by 1° and you’ll reduce energy consumption by 2% to 4%!

Care for your fridge

Workplace fridges and freezers are often not given as much care as they require, mostly because it’s one of those things no one wants to volunteer to do. That being said, taking the time once every 6 months to a year to give it a good clean can save your company a lot of money. Other tips we think would benefit your business greatly are:

  • Avoid over-filling fridges – more products on the shelves prevents air circulating and means the equipment has to work harder. That being said- a near empty fridge is just as bad as there’s nothing cold to maintain the temperature! Try to get a good medium, like a few inches free at the sides and back.
  • Make sure the internal light is off when it’s not in use.
  • Turn off the fridge outside work hours if it only holds fizzy drinks- don’t do this if it holds milk or food.
  • Make sure the door seals properly- if air escapes you’re wasting money. This is probably a good reason to not have the door open too long when getting items out too.

For the average fridge freezer, the savings of cleaning it alone could be around £62.00 per year, but this could be much higher if your company follows all of these points.

Wash smarter

If you’re a care home, gym, hotel, or anywhere else that uses a washing machine often, it saves a lot of money to do larger washes less often than the other way around. This makes sense when you think about the amount of energy it’d take to fill the washing machine with water, heat up the water and spin. Those three things don’t change, whether there’s a single tee shirt or an entire school football team’s kits in the wash- so it’s a lot more efficient to let the basket build up a bit.

Most of your washing can also be done at a much lower temperature and still give you exactly the same results, which will save a lot over time too.

Washing machine

Equipment

Have power saving settings on everything- offices especially

Power management settings are a powerful thing. A lot of computers are set to go into hibernation during periods of inactivity but if not, we’d recommend a quick look through the control panel to make sure. We’d recommend enabling automatic sleep mode for computers that are inactive for longer than 10 minutes.

The hibernate feature in a laptop or a PC is good in out of work hours, but turning it off at the socket is even better.

Make sure all the other office equipment (like display TVs, fax machines, printers, projectors photocopiers) are set to energy saving mode if they have it. A lot of these also have settings which turn them off after a period of inactivity, but again, turning them all of at the switch before leaving is even better.

Top tip:

Never use screensavers, they’re a monumental waste of energy! There’s no point in keeping your screen on for the sake of it.

Quick fact:

By reducing the brightness of your monitors from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of the energy that the monitor uses!

 

Turn them off when you’re done!

This is something people often do in their homes but take for granted in the workplace. A master switch could make it easier to turn everything off when shutting down for the night, which will save you a lot of time and money. If not, even just doing the rounds after closing time, making sure everything is off, will be worthwhile.

If a 5KW grill is left on all day over a year, this would add up to about £2,630 being spent on just leaving the grills on between services. Turning off the grill between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner will save a lot of money.

 

Unplug all chargers

Most chargers actually use energy when not even turned on, meaning just turning them off isn’t enough. This phenomenon is known as “vampire power”. If it’s warm when you get back to work, then it’s been wasting electricity, even if it had nothing to charge. It is definitely best to unplug phone and laptop chargers when they’re not being used.

 

Smart cards for hotels

If you’re a hotel with a budget that allows this, smart key cards ensure that empty rooms aren’t adding to your already huge energy bills.

While they’re inside the room, the guest can get electricity by putting this card into a slot on the wall. They take this out when they leave, and everybody wins. You can’t guarantee every guest is conscious of how much energy they’re wasting- so installing these will stop them leaving things on.

This doubles as a key too (and can fit in a wallet alongside a guest’s debit card and ID), so they start to associate the electricity being off with the door being locked. This will reduce the amount of people being locked out, as people leaving their room will realise the lights are still on. If you’d like to learn more about this, we recommend this blog post by Kisi, which goes into more detail on how they work, and debunks some myths that usually scare people away.

man holding hotel door open

Upgrade your equipment

If you’re a kitchen or a gym especially, this one will be massively beneficial to you.

Gyms now have the option of machines that generate their own power through use. While they may cost a lot, they’re definitely the best option for any gym that has the budget to pick these up. They don’t need electricity to run, as the people using them are creating the power to run the display on it, and some eco-friendly gym equipment will also allow you to put any additional energy created back into the building- giving you energy for free!

As for kitchens, traditional hobs are up to 50% less efficient than electric induction hobs, so a simple switch in equipment could end up saving you a fortune over time. That goes for the majority of things in the kitchen, as grills, fridges and more can all benefit from an upgrade.

Heating

Watch windows and doors

This is often overlooked, but companies, especially stores, lose a lot of money from doors and windows being left open. This is a bottomless pit of money, and a constant uphill battle to keep the room a comfortable temperature- whether it’s the summer fighting against your air con, or the winter fighting against your heating. Ensure that doors and windows are kept shut in the winter, and open in the summer, to help you save on heating or air con. This is especially important for retail, as customers are in and out constantly, but also expecting the inside to be a comfortable temperature.

Top tip:

Revolving or automatic doors on the outside could prove an effective solution to this problem, as it gives your business a barrier against the chilly/hot air outside, and doesn’t sacrifice ease of access!

 

Be conservative with heating

No one needs to be in summer heat all day, so we’d recommend trying to keep thermostats at around 20°C (66°F) max. Your heating costs will go down by almost 10% per degree, which is a huge amount to just lose for no good reason. It should probably go without saying, but if it’s over 20°C, the heating should be off altogether. If you have the windows and doors closed, like we’ve mentioned before, you’ll do a much better job of retaining the heat you put into the room anyway!

Top tip:

Turn your heating down by 1°C if you feel comfortable with your temperature currently. This won’t feel like much, but it’s a massive price difference.

 

Business hours and heating hours should be the same

You should definitely try and sync these up. It’s simple but makes a huge difference in how much you pay for your heating- turn off the heating/ air con after your company closes! If you usually have it on 24/7, you could half your heating bill instantly.

 

Central heating > electrical heating

Every unit of heat put out by an electric heater will cost two to three times as much as a unit of heat from one of your radiators. If your business uses electric heaters, it would be extremely useful to make the switch to central heating. Doing this can half the amount of greenhouse gases that leave your heating system, and can chop two thirds off the amount you pay to keep it running.

Electric heaters are great for warming up one room, but can quickly become something people easily overpay for. Make sure you’re not one of them.

 

Learn about your building

Heating and air con cost a lot of money over time, but this can be massively improved if you’re a little bit smarter about it. Speak to your building’s landlord and ask whether the building has the right insulation- and if not, nicely ask them to get it installed. Things like double glazing or wall insulation can shave a substantial amount off your heating bill while making the room’s temperature easy to maintain. Landlords might not like the idea of the outlay, but it makes the building a lot more appealing to other potential tenants (if it’s an office block or other multi-company building) and keeps the good tenants in!

 

Prepare for the seasons

Saving money on heating or air con may just seem like an unwinnable battle against the elements, but all it takes is a small amount of preparation. If you have any windows that get direct sun exposure, invest in some blinds or other cover to use in the summer.

You can also use plants as natural air con, which sounds strange but completely works. Other than the obvious methods (planting a tree outside for shade is still a good idea), even just having plants in the workplace can cool you down. The moisture that plants release as a part of their respiratory cycle makes the air more humid- which improves air quality and leaves a cooling effect.

 

Have one person in charge of the heating

This one might cause some upsets in an office environment. The constant fight of people being too hot and others being too cold only costs your company more in the long-run, and can be resolved by one person being at the helm. As long as you stick to the recommended temperature range we’ve mentioned earlier, this shouldn’t cause too many arguments- but no promises.

 

Think about relaxing your dress code

Allowing employees to wear jumpers in the winter and tees in the summer means that the workforce is happier, and more appropriate dress for the seasons also eliminates the need for over-heating or excessive use of the air con. This gives everyone power in saving the company money and keeps them at the right temperature through the day, meaning they will more than likely be more productive too. This should also stop the perpetual heating argument we mentioned earlier- no promises again.

Top tip:

If you’re a company that requires a dress code, think about getting branded jumpers or fleeces that can also be worn!

 

Fix draughts and cold spots

Sealant can go a long way in saving energy. Making a quick run around the workplace sealing any holes in door or window frames can make the building warmer in the winter, and more importantly, better at keeping heat in. The money saved in the long-run is well worth the slightly time-consuming task.

 

Compare energy prices

 

The biggest change you can make to save money is to change your provider. Energy companies change their prices constantly, and it’s definitely a good idea to keep on top of what’s best for your business. Our team here at  BusinessCostComparison are constantly searching for the best deal for SMEs, as they are often under a lot of pressure to keep costs low. That’s why when you fill out our short online form, we’ll get back to you with your cheapest possible provider- and quickly.

Water

Fix dripping taps as soon as you see them

If there’s a leaky pipe or dripping tap in your workplace, you should make it a priority. The cost of the water dripping 24/7 will build up to a lot more than the cost of fixing it- and the longer you wait, the more you’re spending! A single dripping tap is estimated to waste over 5,500 litres of water every year, which is your money going down the drain. To stop this in the future, you can take a few avenues- flow restrictors and self-closing taps are proven money-savers that will save you a lifetime of issues. Meanwhile, just make sure you get that leak fixed before you’ve paid a pipe repair-worth of funds on water bills!

 

Showers > baths for care homes and hotels

In a care home, baths and showers are just as dangerous as each other, but did you know that the average bath uses around 80 litres of water, while a shower lasting 8 minutes uses just 62 litres of water?

This brings about massive saving potential. If you can convince some of your residents to use showers, even if just once or twice a week, it’d shave a lot of the water bill.

For hotels, having rooms with just showers will save a healthy amount over time once you get past the initial instillation price.

 

While you’re at it, switch your shower head

While we’re talking about saving money with showers, water efficient shower heads are another amazing solution. Low flow shower heads can lower your average water consumption by 40% or more! This cuts down hugely on your monthly water bill. Showers take a lot of energy to heat the water anyway, so your energy bills will be a lot healthier if you put some of these in.

 

Dual flush toilets

Dual flush toilets are high efficiency toilets that can save water by giving you two choices, low flush for liquids and a regular flush for solids. They also generally use less water in the regular option due to the shape of the toilet itself, which can accumulate a lot of savings over time.

Replacing a regular toilet with a new dual flush one will ensure you use less water when you flush, but if cash is an issue, you have the cheaper option of fitting the dual flush button onto an older style toilet. The toilet won’t be any more efficient in full flush, but you will get to give the people in your workplace the option.

This one is great for an office, a care home, a gym, a hotel, retail and more or less any other job that has a w/c on the premises!

 

Consider binning the kettle altogether

No, we’re not joking. There are various options for energy efficient devices that can give you instant boiling/ice cold water, which are cheaper and better for the environment. While a lot of these are expensive at first, the savings made from swapping your cooler and kettle for this, as well as the added bonuses of some of the higher-end ones are well worth it.

It costs less to having boiling water in one of these devices than to constantly boil a kettle throughout the day. As well as this, kettles will have to be replaced a lot more.

The capacity of the water boiler is also a very useful feature in an office of employees constantly in need of tea or coffee, and the convenience of having already boiling water at the push of a button saves some time too.

kettle

Lighting

Minimise artificial light

We’ve touched on this one before, but the lights don’t need to be on during the daytime- open those blinds! It is also useful to check the amount of light in certain areas of your business, and take away lamps and other light sources that aren’t necessary- there should be some overly-lit areas that don’t have to be.

 

Make the switch to dimmer switches

With a dimmer switch, you can adjust to different amounts of light to better suit your job, the time of day, the time of year and more. Having the perfect amount of light at all times means you’re never overpaying for no good reason.

 

Task lighting for stores

Task lighting is used to brighten up areas where more lighting is needed for certain tasks or purposes. For example, if you’re a store, the tills, dressing rooms, back office and stockroom would all benefit from task-specific lighting. This means you can reduce the need for overly bright ambient lighting.

Quick fact: Good task lighting also helps fight against eye-strain, migraines and even boosts productivity!

 

Motion sensors for stores

There are some rooms that don’t require light 24/7, but tend to be too dark to find a switch when someone actually does end up going in- think storage rooms, stockrooms, staff toilets and bar cellars. A fast and easy solution to this is to install automatic lights. The room won’t be wasting energy when there’s no one in for long periods of time, but will come straight on when the room needs to be used- this adds up hugely over time if it’s a less commonly used room.

 

Install LEDs

This is the big one. If you don’t already have these, you really should. On average, lighting is responsible for a quarter of a company’s overall electricity costs, but a switch to the more efficient LEDs can reduce this by up to 80%, but averaging at 50%.

LED lighting has developed tremendously in a short space of time, and every year they’re getting more and more efficient and gaining new bonuses, which we’ll go through now:

  • LED lighting uses less electricity than other bulbs, even ones described as eco-friendlier, like CFLs.
  • Despite costing more than other bulbs, LEDs provide a quick ROI because of their energy saving benefits
  • LED bulbs have a much longer life than other bulbs. CFLs are able to create light for around 10,000 hours, while LEDs can live for 60,000 hours.
  • LEDs are designed to work with most existing fittings, so switching to them can be done relatively easily in most cases

If you make your company LED-powered, you’d save a lot of money in the long term, and without

 

Think about a lighting maintenance program

This can help you keep on top of when bulbs need replaced and when your building needs a quick run-around to get back to max efficiency. The most basic lighting maintenance to keep track of would be:

  • Clean dust off all the lights in the room every 6-12 months.
  • Replace covers for the lights if they’re turning yellow, as dirty ones are harder for light to break through
  • Clean or repaint small rooms yearly, and larger rooms every 2-3 years, because dirty walls reflect less light
  • Keep records of the oldest and newest bulbs on the premises, and slowly replace the oldest ones as they get less effective

 

Staff

post-it note with energy-saving tip

Leave kind reminder posters

If you’re worried that your colleagues aren’t as green as you and will fail to remember to do any of these, feel free to leave little notes next to the kettle reminding them to think about how much they’re putting in, or to turn off the microwave when they’re done, or to turn off the lights on the way out. This should maybe only be a short-term thing, because it’ll catch on and become a habit for your fellow employees soon enough, but it’s effective!

 

Organise a meeting

If you’ve got your boss onside, it’d be a great idea to conduct a meeting, to let all of the staff know that you can do more for the environment as a company- and save money at the same time. If everyone’s on the same page, it’d be a lot easier to do this as it’s a group effort. You can use this as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, or even elect an energy leader who can be in charge of energy saving. The sky’s really the limit here!

 

Get Creative!

While brainstorming ideas, there’s a lot of unique solutions that can help your company on its energy-saving mission. A quarterly energy usage newsletter, talking about how much you’ve collectively saved and what you can still do to improve? incentivised rewards for those coming up with good ideas? Again, there’s really no limit to how far you can go with this.

Extra Savvy Tips

Make an effort to become paperless (or at least use less)

Similar to the use of LED lights, the amount of energy saved through using less paper is massive and is extremely good for the environment. With the rising popularity of Google Docs, Google Sheets, Dropbox and various other online file-storing sites, paper isn’t as necessary as it once was. This means that you can cut costs by refraining from using printers, photocopiers and so on and instead send co-workers documents digitally. While not printing or copying, it’s also a good habit to have the relevant devices turned off at the wall to save even more money. This may not sound like a big change, but the results add up, just like a lot of these other points.

Read your energy bills!

A sizeable amount of small businesses are unsure on how much energy they actually use, with a third not understanding their energy bills. Energy bills can be really informative and effective way to see first-hand how much you’re paying for certain things, and whether this can be improved on. This can also tell you whether you’d be better off with another provider altogether.

Top tip:

Research what all of the complex terminology means, as it’ll help you a lot in the long-run. You gain a better understanding of your bills, and it’s a lot harder for providers to pull the wool over your eyes with jargon you don’t understand.

Learn the laws- especially CCL

The small detailed laws of the country are a lot to take in, especially as a small business or charity without the resources or prior knowledge. That being said, it’s always a good time to find out whether you’re overpaying for certain things, or if you qualify for special tax relief or discounts.

If you’re an industrial, commercial, agricultural or public service company, you’ll have to deal with CCL. It was unveiled in 2001 as encouragement for businesses to go greener, and charges you a percentage of your energy as a tax. It’s measured in kilowatt hours and the current rates are:

Taxable commodity

Rate from 1 April 2018

Rate from 1 April 2019

Electricity (£ per kilowatt hour (KWh))

0.00583

0.00847

Natural gas (£ per KWh)

0.00203

0.00339

LPG (£ per kilogram (kg))

0.01304

0.02175

Any other taxable commodity (£ per kg)

0.01591

0.02653

You can get a discount of 90% on CCL for electricity and 65% on CCL for everything else if you enter a climate change agreement with the Environment Agency- where you essentially promise to become an eco-friendlier business. You can find information about this here.

If you’re a charity organisation or residential accommodation such as a care home, you can qualify for 5% VAT on power, instead of the standard 20%. You can learn more about this here.

There are many more small laws that can make your life a lot easier, you just have to find them!

Request an energy audit

An energy audit is a detailed analysis of how energy efficient your company is, judged by a thorough examination of the building and your past energy bills. After this information is reported, you can then create an in-depth personalised plan to improve on it.

This is a great way to identify any problems you have that you were unaware of, and take the next steps in making your business an energy-saving powerhouse.

Consider cloud servers as an office

Cloud is the future. Servers eat a lot of electricity and businesses often don’t look at the alternatives, some believing there are none. Google, pioneers of all things new, have previously reported on the cloud on their Google Apps service:

“These findings are consistent with a case study presented in this paper of the actual savings achieved by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), a Google Apps client with approximately 17,000 users. By switching to Google Apps, GSA reduced server energy consumption by nearly 90% and carbon emissions by 85%. We estimate the cost savings from this reduction in energy use will be $285,000 annually (a 93% reduction).”

Long story short, someone (with a site containing around 17,000 users) working with Google apps cut 93% off their energy bill by having cloud servers. This is massive and really shows how much potential is in services like this.

If you’d like to learn more about moving your servers to the cloud, there’s a really informative article from Growth Business here explaining even more reasons it might be right for you.

Server room

Contact Us

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