Energy efficiency is a significant expense in commercial buildings, but it’s also one of the largest controllable overheads. That’s why it makes business sense to reduce energy consumption in the office. Not only does saving energy save money, but it also reduces your building’s carbon emissions, enhancing your corporate reputation.
Saving energy as we go into winter may seem like a challenge, but it also presents the opportunity to make a real impact by implementing energy-saving measures. Simple actions (at low or zero cost) can save energy, cut costs and increase productivity.
Some of the main energy users over which you do have some control are your building’s heating and lighting technology. This article suggests some simple tips to help you save energy in these key areas.
Heating accounts for 20-40% of energy costs in a typical office building. Businesses can save up to 30% of their heating costs by reducing heating temperatures by just 1°C – this simple change alone can cut fuel consumption by 8%.
The recommended temperature for offices is 21–23°C. However, with internal heat gains from lighting and office equipment, it may be sufficient to set your thermostat to 19-20°C. Turning the heating down can thus save a lot of energy, while still maintaining a comfortable working environment.
Old, inefficient time controls can be problematic and upgrading them can result in energy and cost savings.
- Inexpensive time controls can automatically switch your heating off at the end of the workday so that you’re not wasting energy when no-one is in the building.
- Certain heating systems can automatically regulate the heating temperature according to the weather. This means that your internal temperatures will automatically decrease when warmer outside weather makes for a warmer office environment, keeping staff comfortable and wastage low.
- Clear fans, radiators and ducts of furniture and any other obstructions – if these are blocked, the equipment will be using more energy than it needs to to get the job done.
- Replace any filters at the recommended intervals.
- Maintain boilers and pipework. (Did you know? A regularly-serviced boiler can save as much as 10% on annual heating costs.)
- Insulate boilers, hot water tanks, pipes and valves to prevent heat from escaping.
- Your lighting also needs regular maintenance – without it, light levels can fall by least 30% in 2-3 years.
- Ensure that skylights, windows, light fittings and occupancy sensors are kept clean.
- Implement a regular maintenance schedule for all aspects of the building. A professional facilities maintenance company can also take this off your hands, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Depending on the needs and type of your building and environment, lighting can account for anything from 15-70% of your total energy costs. Enhancing your lighting’s energy efficiency is a quick win to bring your building’s energy bill.
Switch to low-energy lighting such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Originally developed for electronics, LEDs have become the light source of choice in the last 10 years, providing illumination at a fraction of the cost of legacy sources.
The benefits of LED lighting:
- LEDs have the highest lamp life of all lighting types
- Easy to control
- No warm-up periods
- In recent years, the cost of LEDs has come down significantly
- Technological developments have improved lighting output, energy efficiency and reliability.
- Superior colour and contrast
- LEDs don’t produce electro-magnetic interference or use ballasts which produce a“hum” sound
- Better controllability: through dimming and instantaneous switch off and on
LED lighting also makes for more comfortable and optimal working conditions due to its superior glare suppression, colour rendering, quietness and illumination levels.
Most luminaires can be retrofit with LED technology. However, full luminaire replacement is preferable as this ensures that the fitting uses the correct wiring and control gear.
Involve your staff at all levels in your energy efficiency efforts by encouraging them to switch lights and appliances off when not in use.
- Place reminder stickers above light switches
- Clearly label light switches to help employees know which ones they can turn off
Daylight sensor with a photocell override (this gives the option of keeping lights off on bright days) can achieve savings of up to 50% on lighting costs. Occupancy sensors automatically turn lights off after a period of vacancy.
Your Quick Energy-Savings Checklist
- Turn down your heating.
- Implement a maintenance schedule or hire a facilities maintenance company.
- Use motion-activated lighting options for staff and stock rooms.
- Replace all bulbs with low energy options such as CFL bulbs which use less electricity.
- Fluorescent tube lighting can be replaced with slimline fluorescent tubes which use 25% less electricity.
- Encourage your staff to be more conscious of energy efficiency (for example, only filling kettles with as much water as is needed, or turning off electrical appliances when not in use).
- When purchasing new equipment for your office, make sure that it uses energy efficient technology.
These relatively simple solutions can help you save money, increase your staff productivity, and reduce your carbon footprint—all of which enhances your bottom line.
Another quick win for energy efficiency is switching to a cheaper energy deal. The best way of doing this is to compare prices from all suppliers, but this can be a time-consuming process.
An expert business energy broker can shop the market on your behalf, helping you switch and save! An energy broker will ensure that you benefit from the most favourable utility contracts, pricing plans and management systems for your requirements, no matter the size and turnover of your enterprise.
Why pay more for your energy than you need to? Saving on cheaper tariffs allows you to put the money you’re saving to better use within your building.
About the Author
Shea Karssing is a writer for Smarter Business, one of the UK’s leading independent consultancies, helping businesses secure the most comprehensive savings solutions from utilities contract management and procurement to business loans and facilities maintenance.