There are two key objectives that all business owners have: to maximise profits and streamline costs. It’s easy to focus on the former, as it is more explicitly related to helping your business make money.
However, you shouldn’t neglect the importance of streamlining costs, as this could help your business save even more money.
Offices and Energy Saving
One area that typically costs SMEs more than they think is their energy costs. The average small business energy bill comes in at a staggering £3,664 per year, and medium businesses face invoices of more than double that figure.
The good news is that you can reduce your energy expenditure by making your business more energy-efficient and eco-friendly; this will also help you do your bit for the environment. We’ve compiled a list of 13 easy ways to save money at the office – you can start implementing these today to reduce your business energy bills.
1. Get the brews in
Getting in a round of tea and coffee for your team doesn’t just make you look good; it also helps save energy. By boiling the kettle only once to produce five or six beverages -- rather than six times individually -- you’ll save a huge amount of energy throughout the year.
Try implementing a rota for each team. Not only will you save energy, but you’ll also find employees will be a little more productive as they won’t need to leave their work for refreshments as often.
2. Use energy-saving bulbs
As ideal as natural light is for keeping the office nice and bright during the day, most businesses still need to rely on artificial lighting, especially in the colder, darker months.
Luckily, you can minimise your lighting costs by using energy-saving LED bulbs rather than standard incandescent ones. LEDs use 90% less energy than standard lightbulbs and they last significantly longer. They can be slightly more expensive, but prices have dropped drastically in the last few years, meaning that they’re now cheaper than ever to buy.
The amount you’ll save on your energy costs each year will more than make up for the price of purchase.
3. Implement light sensors
Even energy-saving bulbs are limited in how much they can save if they’re always left on.
This can be especially costly and energy wasting if lights are left on in rooms that aren’t often used, as it can be hours or even days before someone gets round to finally turning them off.
The easiest way to keep lights off when they’re not in use? Motion sensors. Putting your office lights on motion sensors means that forgetting to switch them off is no longer an issue — after a minute or two, they’ll switch off by themselves.
Over time, the energy you save from automatically switching off lights can help to significantly drive down your electricity costs — saving you money in the process.
4. Go paperless
Photocopiers and printers don’t just use energy; they use paper, too, which is another precious (and costly) resource that both you and the environment could benefit from saving.
Having a “paperless” rule in your office saves the energy that you would have spent printing off sheets of paper for meetings or notes. Add any documents you want to share with others to a shared drive instead of printing out a copy; or simply send an email!
This also means that no one will have to re-print any documents they lose, as the files will remain in their documents or inbox.
5. Turn down the AC
It’s not always heating up the office that we use energy on; in the heat of summer, cooling things down can be just as costly.
Changing your AC settings by as little as one degree Celsius could reduce your annual bill by up to 8%, according to the Carbon Trust.
As spring and summer approaches, why not work out what the optimum temperature is in the office and make sure your air-con is turned off when you reach this level; 20°C is usually a suitable temperature.
Consider setting a minimum or maximum temperature on your AC to easily regulate how much you spend on it.
6. Consider microgeneration
Microgeneration is the small-scale generation of energy by small businesses to meet their own needs. Businesses can create energy for themselves by purchasing resources like solar panels — which run off sunlight during the long days in summer — and wind turbines that take advantage of the winter weather.
It’s a great initiative for environmentally conscious businesses to take, especially those that aspire to have zero or low-carbon footprints. It’s also a great way of keeping costs down.
Both of these options can reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint while generating power all year round at a lower cost than you might have incurred from the grid.
What’s more, if you happen to generate more electricity than you need, you can even sell this back to the grid via the Feed-In Tariff scheme.
7. Travel Smart and Telecommute
Car travel is responsible for nearly one-quarter of climate change emissions and general air pollution. The daily commute is a massive contributor to the amount of pollutants caused by cars, so businesses should do what they can to help reduce the indirect environmental impact of their operations.
This could be done by implementing a cycle-to-work scheme (which involves a tax-free loan from the government) or travel buddy scheme within your office.
Car sharing could halve the cost of petrol from commuting for your employees and could also half the emissions employees emit on their commute. This could result in them having more disposable income, being happier and therefore possibly more productive!
Additionally, reducing your business’ carbon emissions can help to boosts its reputation.
Alternatively, telecommuting is an increasingly popular option for office-based workers. Telecommuting allows employees to save time and money and also helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs.
It’s estimated that businesses could save in excess of £7,000 per employee through telecommuting. This is made up of a variety of office running costs.
Top Tip: Be sure that you have appropriate cleansing facilities for staff before encouraging cycling to work. A smelly office is a demotivated office - a whiff-causing employee doesn’t exactly inspire building relationships or comfort and therefore could have an adverse effect on your workforce.
8. Upgrade your appliances
You should always check the energy efficiency ratings of your appliances; if they’re sub-standard, you could be using far more energy than necessary. The fridge, for example, is always on, so upgrading to a new, more energy-efficient model can have a significant impact on the amount it costs to run each year.
Consider updating old heaters, too. Not only do they fail to properly heat an office but they’re also incredibly inefficient by today’s standards. You could get better quality heating and lower your energy consumption by getting new heaters installed.
Worried about up-front cost? You can always sell old appliances to recoup some of the costs of installing new ones.
9. Get a smart meter
Smart meters display your gas and electricity usage in real time, so you can see exactly how much you’re spending on your energy. The transparency that smart meters afford means that they’re becoming more popular than ever in offices — and they could help save you money.
Here’s why you should get a smart meter for your business:
- It’s free — Most energy suppliers won’t charge you for the installation as the set-up costs are already being swallowed up by current tariffs.
- You get accurate estimates — Suppliers get much more accurate readings, meaning you don’t get charged more than you should.
- You won’t need to submit readings — You won’t need to find the time to take readings from your electricity and gas meters and then submit them to your supplier: smart meters do this automatically on your behalf.
- You can review your usage – You’ll be able to keep a closer eye on the energy that is being used in your office, so you can pinpoint any areas where efficiency can be improved and savings can be made.
10. Switch everything off at night
Laptops have now replaced the majority of desktop computers, and though this comes with plenty of benefits -- increased mobility, ease of access -- it also has its flaws.
One problem that laptops create is people become accustomed to leaving them on standby, rather than shutting them down completely. This can add up to countless hours of energy being wasted every year.
Encourage employees to switch off their laptops or take them home: this is especially important at the weekend. You should also make sure you switch off appliances like vending machines and coffee makers, as these will simply waste energy if left on throughout the night.
Don't forget to switch to a cheaper energy deal
As much as all of the above will help you reduce the amount of energy you use, there’s only one way to cut the amount you pay per unit of that energy.
Many businesses avoid switching their energy tariff because they’re worried it will be a time-consuming task. However, by using an energy comparison website like Love Energy Savings, you can find a new business energy deal in a matter of minutes.
It’s hassle-free and is by far the most effective way to reduce your energy costs. Why not try our free comparison tool today.
For more energy-saving tips, check out our energy guides.