The 10 easiest ways to save energy at the office
Any business owner has its eyes on two key objectives:
- Maximising profits
- Streamlining costs
And while the first point is easy to focus on, the second is sometimes neglected despite being just as important.
One area that’s costing 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 reducing your energy expenditure doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve compiled a list of our 10 easiest ways to save money at the office that you can start implementing 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: 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 darker months.
The good news is you can minimise these costs by using energy-saving LED bulbs rather than standard incandescent ones. LEDs have a reputation for being expensive, but the truth is that prices have dropped drastically in the last few years, meaning that they’re 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 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 lights on motion sensors means that forgetting to switch off lights when leaving a room 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 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.
Having a “paperless” rule in your office saves the energy that you would have spent printing off things for people ahead of the meeting. Add any documents you want to share with others to a shared drive instead of printing out a copy.
That also means no one will have to re-print any documents they lose; they can just find them again in the cloud.
5. Turn down the AC
It’s not always heating up the office that we expend 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 and make sure your air-con is turned off when you reach this level; a good temperature to think about turning this off is around 20°C.
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 things 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 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 incur 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.
7. Upgrade your appliances
Keeping employees refreshed is important, but in the long run, it plays a huge role in your energy bills.
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 one more energy-efficient one can have a significant impact on the amount it costs to run each year.
Think about old heaters, too. Not only do old heaters fail to properly heat an office but they’re also incredibly inefficient by today’s standards. If you’re still using old heaters, consider swapping them for newer ones.
Worried about up-front cost? You can always sell old appliances to recoup some of the costs of installing new ones.
8. Get a smart meter
Smart meters are a new type of energy meter which displays 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 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.
Learn more about smart meters for businesses here.
9. 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 laptops create is that 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 with them: this is especially important at the weekend. You should also make sure you switch off appliances like vending machines, which would otherwise simply waste energy if left on throughout the night.
10. 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. What’s better than that?
For more energy-saving tips, check out our energy guides.