By Mark Krull - Marketing Director for Logic4training

With many businesses suffering from the harsh economic climate, the rising cost of fuel is an unwelcome situation. There are ways to save on light and heating, however - some of them very simple and even free.

Open your eyes

As a starting point take a walk round your workplace, are lights on in empty rooms and is equipment left on that’s not in use? Are employees wearing t-shirts in January? Has the air-conditioning been turned on because people are too hot? All these things can be rectified at no cost at all. If people are obviously over-heating, turn the thermostat down and encourage people to turn things off with some well-placed stickers.

Understand your building’s performance

To truly understand how much energy your workplace is leaking, invest in a Commercial Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These cost £200 and will highlight the problems, plus ways to rectify them. If you rent an office or manufacturing facility, this is down to your landlord. They should have presented you with a Commercial EPC when you moved in.

Get employees involved

An energy-efficiency drive needs the support of the whole business, so get everyone involved. Incentivise energy saving actions with rewards for cutting costs. You can ask your utility provider to help out here too, by providing details of energy used before and after you’ve made the changes – say six-months to a year. Beyond energy used within the workplace, you could take this even further, by encouraging people to walk or cycle to work and cut-down or completely cut-out paper usage.

Monitor electricity usage

Smart Meters monitor electricity used and equate this into pounds and pence. These clever bits of kit are a great way to get people understanding the true cost of boiling a kettle. Currently being rolled out across the UK over the next 11 years, some electricity providers are already offering them for free.

When it comes to lighting, apart from energy saving bulbs (which we should all be using by now) there are also low-energy options available and, if you can’t trust employees to switch things off, motion sensor lighting can provide a great solution.

A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost a business over £50 a year. Switching it off out of hours and enabling standby features could cut this to £15 per annum, according to the Carbon Trust.

Keep warm for less

It’s surprising how many people don’t know how to use their heating properly. Get to grips with the timer and thermostat, and don’t switch it off completely – warming up a freezing cold room wastes more energy than keeping a low base temperature. Switching your thermostat down by one degree will save 8% on your heating bill.

If you haven’t got a condensing boiler, consider making the investment – new, SEDBUK A rated boilers are at least 90% efficient, with old, G-rated boilers, performing at just 60 – 70%. Heating controls can further optimise this efficiency, taking into account things like computers and lighting which give out a lot of heat. Talk to a Gas Safe Registered engineer to find out more.

Make sure all radiators are free of obstruction from furniture, invest in draught proofing and some thick curtains; these simple measures will dramatically minimise the amount of heat leaking from your building.

Next year, the Green Deal will provide insulation for ‘free’, paid back through utility bills, more information can be found on the Department of Energy and Climate Change website: http://www.decc.gov.uk The Carbon Trust also offers interest free loans for energy saving measures www.carbontrust.co.uk

Switch utility providers

Don’t just stick with the provider you’ve always had (or the one the building came with) for the sake of it. Shop around for a better deal and be prepared to negotiate – they all want your business so you may be able to get a special offer. If you really want to ‘go green’ look at where your energy comes from – OVO ensure 15% of their power is generated by renewable sources and Good Energy offers 100%.

Cut down your reliance on fossil fuels

To really cut the carbon footprint of your business, consider investing in renewable technologies. Feed in Tariffs, http://www.fitariffs.co.uk/ gives cash back for electricity generating technologies. Next year a similar scheme is being launched for heat generating renewables; the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) http://www.rhincentive.co.uk/

Make sure you employ Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited engineers, as you will not have access to these initiatives unless the equipment is installed by qualified trades’ people. More information about MCS can be found here: http://goo.gl/6qjSI

Tell your customers

Being green is good for business. Many companies only want to associate with socially and environmentally responsible organisations, so make sure you shout about any carbon busting measures taken. If your work building is over 1,000m2 then you have to show a Display Energy Certificate, designed to encourage companies to make improvements to efficiency – if this is something to be proud of, make sure it takes a starring role in reception.

Whatever changes you decide to make, always choose qualified trades people to carry out the work. For more information about Logic4training’s courses, visit: www.logic4training.co.uk