By Anthony Ainsworth, Business Energy Director at E.ON
With many businesses either too busy or too confused to tackle their energy costs, this article offers eight tips for enterprises looking to control the impact energy has on their bottom line.
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR CURRENT CONTRACT
Although there will be other demands on your time, understanding the finer print of any contract can help make sure you’re not caught out. Know when your deal expires and when you need to look to renew. Some suppliers still roll customers on to new contracts and you should look out for that in good time.
Alongside that, new Government legislation is coming that will start to add extra costs to energy bills in the coming years and you might start seeing these extra costs passed through — even on ‘fixed’ contracts. So know what to expect and what you need to do to prepare.
If you buy your energy through a broker or an intermediary make sure they are registered with the TPI with the Code of Practice for your peace of mind.
2. MONITOR AND MANAGE YOUR ENERGY CONSUMPTION
You can’t manage what you can’t monitor. By taking control of your energy consumption — the where, the when and the how much — you can see the areas where savings can be made and either quantify the success when it comes or justify any capital expenditure you need.
Free help and advice is available online, as are energy monitoring gadgets such as monitors or smart meters which can talk remotely to your supplier and provide accurate, live usage data.
3. MAKE SURE THE NUMBERS ADD UP
If you’ve got a smart meter then you should be getting billed against accurate consumption data sent remotely to your supplier. If not, make sure you submit your own readings in a timely fashion.
4. INVEST IN THE IMPORTANT THINGS FIRST
Like everything else in business, you want to maximise the return on investment and it’s the same with energy efficiency. There’s no point fitting solar panels to your roof if most of your energy budget goes on heating and hot water — but with the data you’ve gathered from your energy monitoring you should be able to effectively target the right areas.
Retailers may want to look at more efficient LED lighting (a potential 75% saving on CFLs) whereas manufacturers might want to concentrate on heating solutions or more efficient motors and drives.
5. THINK LONG TERM
We often tend to focus on the initial price or design of equipment — and forget to think of efficient energy use as a big part of its lifetime cost. Sometimes, spending a few pounds more on efficient lighting might save an impressive amount of money in the long run. If you want to control your energy costs, here are some longer-term things to think about:
• More efficient lighting pays back quickly in areas that see long daily use such as hotel corridors and shops with long opening hours
• High efficiency condensing boilers are 90% efficient — older boilers can lose over 30% efficiency
• Before choosing a new computer and screen, check its efficiency rating. This will have a long term influence on running costs.
• Motors are generally efficient devices, but their power to cost ratio is high so choosing a motor that offers just a small percentage higher performance can pay back quickly.
• Modern refrigeration and air conditioning equipment benefits from better insulation and more efficient components, making savings of 15-20% in running costs achievable.
6. GET THE WHOLE TEAM COLLABORATING
Collaboration is vital to business success, yet how many people do you see driving forward energy efficiency? We’ve found it’s often seen as ‘someone else’s job’ and with companies running dozens of computers and hundreds of lights, many employees will wonder what difference they can make.
You have fire wardens on each floor so why not an energy warden? Once you’re monitoring energy consumption you could even run competitions between sites, floors or between teams.
7. DO YOU WANT TO BE SEEN TO BE GREEN?
Studies have shown brands can be punished by consumers for poor environmental performance, or rewarded for good brand perception. Green tariffs are available that match consumption to energy generated by renewable sources. Highlighting this to customers might win you their approval — and their trade.
8. REFLECT AND LEARN
Success breeds success and when you can see the impact of these changes, either on your bottom line or in terms of improved budget security, you can use it to refocus your efforts. That might just as likely be spotting what hasn’t gone so well but at least you have greater knowledge to target future efforts.