How your business can reduce energy consumption in the face of rising tariffs

Rising prices and tough carbon reduction targets have made energy a critical issue for government, civil society and business – and both industry and policy makers have a lot to say about the matter.

Hot in the press at the moment is whether energy-intensive industries should be asked to reduce energy consumption in spite of the fact that said energy use (that might be deemed excessive in light of reduction targets) drives business profits? A debate is raging in the face of government incentives to solve ‘the energy crisis’ by implementing time shifts (tapering energy use across the day by charging customers more for energy at the most popular times of day) on businesses in an effort to change behaviour.

Energy policies have not yet been honed by government but what is clear is that some sort of reduction will be forced, and even if your business is not energy-heavy it’s nonetheless a good idea to cut energy consumption before flexibility is no longer an option.

According to a survey by greenwisebusiness.co.uk, the most common reasons that UK company owners have not cut their energy consumption are:

  • insufficient time or resources
  • not being able to quantify the expected returns
  • energy efficiency being a lower priority than other business considerations

Logic says that the best way to cut consumption would be to address the aforementioned hindrances. Here’s how:

Assign ‘ownership’ to a member of staff: if time is short and resources are minimal, appoint someone with the specific task of overseeing an ‘energy project’; this could be someone already on staff or someone new who is brought in on a contract basis. The idea would be for the project manager to identify the primary areas of energy consumption (including lighting, heating, cooling and powering equipment) and to then work out how best to cut consumption; investing in new equipment can make a dramatic difference to energy bills, for example.

Plan and evaluate: often energy saving measures cost up front but save money in the long term. A good way to quantify returns is to clearly outline project requirements to prospective suppliers, which enables a detailed picture of which company offers the best deal. All proposals should provide whole life costings for the proposed solution, showing both the upfront capital cost of the equipment as well as the running costs (including estimated energy consumption and maintenance). Also make sure you receive quotes from at least three established suppliers to have a good framework for comparison. It is worth evaluating the success of different energy efficiency projects at regular stages after their completion. This helps demonstrate the return on investment for future projects; to identify which measures are delivering the biggest benefits and can highlight future enhancements to business operations. – As suggested by greenwisebusiness.co.uk.

Change behaviour: the best way to make energy consumption a business priority is to start with the basics; something as simple as turning off heating outside normal opening hours can result in significant energy savings without the need for major investment. Also encourage staff to take simple steps to reducing energy use on a daily basis (turn switches off at the socket, make sure lights are turned off when rooms aren’t in use etc.) – before you know it; saving energy will be habit.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to energy consumption, the effort it takes to cut energy use will ultimately save your business money! The more effort you put in, the more return you will see.

Sources: Theguardian.com – “Is it fair to ask energy-intensive industries to reduce consumption?” and Greenwisebusiness.co.uk – “Beating the barriers to energy efficiency in association with the CARBON TRUST

If you’d like further information, feel free to contact the CH Systems team on 0208 302 8149 or info@chsystems.cc.

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