Energy efficiency in the workplace is key when it comes to being sustainable and looking after our environment. Having energy efficient measures in place not only helps reduce the energy demand of your workplace and plays a major role in reducing your bills, they also help reduce the carbon emissions. It all adds up, from lighting to heating, powering equipment but also behavioural elements have an impact. It is good to understand where most of your business energy usage stems from and the peak times you use the energy.
You can understand your energy use by taking regular meter readings and by regularly reviewing your energy bills ensuring you are on the best tariff for your usage. If you need some support in understanding your bill it is always good to have a discussion with your energy supplier.
When choosing an energy supplier – do your homework know what you are using and what you are looking for. Are they a green energy supplier? Are the tariffs they provide the right ones for your use? There is a plethora of information out there which will help you make the right decision. Sometimes using an online market comparison site can help narrow down the choices for you.
Having a smart meter is another best practice to consider as they measure your usage in real-time and if supported by your supplier, it will give you accurate readings of energy usage throughout the day. Normally these can monitor both your electricity and gas usage (if applicable).
If you want to find out more information and are interested in having a smart meter you can visit smart meters. They are a not-for-profit government backed campaign helping raise awareness on the benefits of having smart meters.
Adapting your workplace
Whether your business is based in an office, shop, or warehouse, getting the environment right plays a significant role in reducing your carbon emissions, keeping staff healthy and helping make financial savings.
One element that is always a quick win, less expensive to tackle, and often overlooked, is the energy use from lighting. Replacing traditional or old incandescent and halogen lights with LEDs can reduce your usage by around 25% to 80%. LED lights give much more light using less power and they last much longer. Add sensors or timers to lit up areas and you will use even less energy meaning more financial savings.
Another one to look at is your heating and cooling systems. Having an energy efficient heating or cooling system with a timer and a temperature control is a must. Having long cold spells through the winter and warm summer days tempts many of us to turn the temperature up or down, however having a stable temperature with a timer helps make sure that only as much energy is needed is used making the workspace more comfortable and healthy. A comfortable temperature, depending on the work area in question should be no less than 16 degree Celsius and 24 degrees Celsius. If you want to know more about thermal comfort at work, you can visit Health and Safety.
When it comes to equipment, whether it’s a ventilation device, a laptop or big machinery they all use power – make sure these are not left running unnecessary.
It is good practice to check all your equipment is running efficiently and working properly. If equipment is old and using considerable energy it may be worth costing a new replacement. Although, although you may not see a direct and quick benefit it will pay off long term.
You can also have an energy audit completed which will help identify tailored solutions for your business. If you need help and are based in County Durham, you can contact the Business Energy Efficiency Project and they can offer you fully funded independent advice.
Start-up and shut down procedures:
Scheduling a start-up and shut down process guarantees that all equipment is powered and ready to go during the start-up time and that it’s all shut down when the premises are not in use. This means that during a specified time there will be no unnecessary energy use and can substantially reduce the businesses’ energy costs. You can identify the best times for this looking at your energy usage and operational times.
Behavioural change is as important as physical change. It can significantly reduce energy consumption, although sometimes it can be challenging. Any kind of change is difficult because it requires us to disrupt habits, things we are used to doing in specific ways and this relies on developing new behaviours.
Engaging and involving staff from the start is very important part in getting everyone on board. Ask them for their ideas, suggestions, and opinions and get them to come up with some innovative ideas to save energy. Whether you have one or 200 staff, every single one has a role to play and can be a force of reckoning; helping you bring much needed change to the work environment.
If you have someone or several people who are interested, passionate about climate change and sustainability why not get them to be your champion? Having champions can help naturally motivate your workforce and boost staff enthusiasm. Share the aims and benefits of becoming an environmentally friendly business and reducing carbon emissions. If they understand the why, they are more likely to support.
If you have a larger staff pool, you may want to consider developing some marketing materials which will prompt action. You can also run some competitions or team projects – when offering incentives and use healthy competitiveness it can encourage more people to take part.