5 Tips To Lower Your Summer Business Energy Bills
Believe it or not, summer is upon us. You’d be forgiven for thinking that your business energy bills will tumble once the warmer weather takes hold, but this isn’t always the case.
For every pound you save on your lower heating bills, chances are you’ll be spending just as much, if not more, on air conditioning. You could argue that we pay more attention to our energy consumption during the winter months, as we’re conscious that having the gas central heating blaring away for long periods of the day is going to hit us hard in the pocket. We don’t have to worry about this so much in the summer, so are we guilty of resting on our laurels? The team at Love Energy Savings think so.
To that end, here are five things you can do to save money for your business over the next few months.
1) Put an end to the office fridge wars
This isn’t a summer-specific problem per se, but we’d wager that pretty much every office has experienced some kind of standoff when it comes to the communal fridge. It stands to reason that as the temperature rises outside, the need for cold drinks will increase accordingly. How many of you have already received a polite, yet stern email from one of your peers today, warning you in no uncertain terms that if they catch the person who’s stolen their bottle of sugar-free Lilt, there will be dire consequences?
Office fridge battles are something that many of us can relate with, but as an employer did you realise that inefficient use of said fridge could be costing you money unnecessarily? According to the Energy Saving Trust, an A-rated fridge costs around £44 to run each year. This isn’t a lot, but if your staff start to leave the door open all the time, and stack it so full that air cannot circulate around, the appliance won’t work efficiently. As a rule, make sure your fridge is no more than three-quarters full, otherwise it won’t work to its maximum potential.
Aside from your business energy costs, think about the amount of food you’re throwing away each week. It may seem like we’re splitting hairs, but as the old saying goes; look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Over the course of the summer, the amount of cash you throw away on wasted food and energy in your fridge will seriously stack up.
2) Don’t underestimate the cost of air conditioning: Be sensible with it!
Figures provided by the Carbon Trust suggest that air conditioning can increase a building’s overall energy consumption by up to 100%. This is one of the main reasons why company owners are so shocked when they open their commercial energy bills for the summer quarter.
Just like the aforementioned fridge wars, most office environments will also become embroiled in a prolonged battle over the room temperature. It’s important to remember that while you’re unlikely to please everyone, you can’t afford to let staff take matters into their own hands. While one member of staff over in accounts has been forced to put their coat on and is demanding that the heating is ramped up, the guys on the other side of the room have got all of the windows wide open.
The Carbon Trust advises that, first and foremost, you ensure that air conditioning and heating systems are not working concurrently. It sounds ridiculous, but many businesses don’t realise that they’re creating an amiable temperature in the most expensive way possible. Make sure you deploy variable speed drives, which help you to create cold air as and when it’s needed, rather than on a constant basis. The Carbon Trust also urges you to utilise cooling coils, which are free to use and work by bringing cool air into your air conditioning system from outside.
It might take you a while to strike a happy medium, but finding a way to keep your staff comfortable without having to constantly change the dial on your heating and air conditioning will ultimately save you sizeable sums of money on your business energy bills. If all else fails, just hand out free rocket lollies to your staff!
3) Make the most of natural light
You may think we’re stating the obvious, but many businesses still struggle to achieve maximum efficiency when it comes to office lighting, and with this accounting for up to 40% of a building’s overall energy usage, it’s a pressing issue that requires our full attention.
Sensored lights are all the rage at the moment, and with good reason. Indeed, the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s 2015 SME Guide to Energy Efficiency suggested that one electronic components manufacturer managed to save £813 a year by installing occupancy sensors in its store area and toilets. For an initial investment of £225, these lights were paying for themselves after just three months.
This is great, but what happens in the summer when you don’t need the lights on constantly, even when people are in the room? While it is possible to switch motion sensors off permanently, this can quickly become problematic if you’re based in a serviced office where you have no control over the lights. In the summer, you want to make the most of the natural light coming into your office.
Here are a few simple tips for you to try out:
- Avoid blockages: Don’t put a great big book shelf right in front of your main window. Seems obvious, but it happens a lot.
- Tweak your room layout: Figure out where the sun will be and when. If you can arrange desks so that they are not in direct line with the main window when the sun is beaming in throughout the afternoon, you can keep your blinds open and your lights off.
- Make a few decorating adaptations: We’re not suggesting you completely redesign your entire office, but a few subtle additions here and there can make a massive difference to the amount of natural light coming in. Studies show, rather unsurprisingly, that staff are more productive when they’re exposed to higher levels of natural light, so can you add a few mirrors or glass fixtures to the room in order to enhance the amount of natural light reflecting around your room?
- Don’t fall into a ‘one on, all on’ mindset: Rather than refusing to close your blinds because one disgruntled employee is having visibility issues, make sure your motion-sensing lights are programmed so that you can have just a few bulbs on at one time. You don’t want to illuminate the entire room just because one member of staff has opted to close their blind.
4) Don’t be too hasty at the end of the day: Is everything switched off?
Estimates from British Gas suggest that as much as 46% of business electricity consumption occurs outside of the standard 8am to 6pm trading hours, which is staggering, quite frankly. For all the progress that businesses have made in curbing their energy consumption, this statistic shows that there’s not just room for improvement, there’s a vast chasm of wasteful energy usage that needs to be narrowed.
Again, this isn’t a summer-specific problem, but we believe the issue becomes a little more pronounced at this time of year. In the bleak midwinter, it’s perhaps easier to spot when appliances have been left on at the end of the working day, but we must endeavour to be vigilant all year round. Are you leaving PCs on overnight? Have you got vending machines that are running 24/7? Have you left lights on AGAIN?
It’s easy for employees to think that their bosses are nagging them when yet another email that pleads for staff to be a little more considerate with their energy-consuming habits circulates around their department, but they’re not moaning for the sake of it. A study conducted by the Energy Saving Trust earlier this year showed that 73% of people are worried about the cost of energy bills, with 69% of homeowners claiming their energy usage is out of control. As an employer, you want your staff to empathise with your situation. Everyone wants to pay less for their gas and electricity, so try to politely remind them that you’re no different and you need their help to do so.
Also, as summer approaches you’ll generally notice more staff booking annual leave. Have they left their PC on standby for the entire duration of their two-week holiday? Just think of how much money you’ll lose if all of your workforce breach your energy-saving policies in such a flagrant manner.
5) Compare business gas and electricity prices online
Many company owners compare the cheapest business gas and electricity prices when the colder months are approaching, which ties in with what we’ve already discussed about how our mindset changes when winter arrives. However, there’s no time like the present, so why wait until October/November before you make an energy price comparison?
You don't have to go to extreme lengths, like these, to curb your energy usage this summer.
The best way to make financial savings is to conduct a quick, simple online comparison. Those companies that have already switched business energy supplier with Love Energy Savings have managed to cut their bills by 40.1% on average. It doesn’t matter how big your enterprise is; this kind of saving can make a massive difference.
Aside from the actionable advice offered above, we hope the main thing you take away from this article is that just because summer is here, it doesn’t mean your energy bills will suddenly drop by a substantial amount. Also, don’t assume that you have to wait until the winter before you take serious control of your energy usage. Get started now!