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40 quick and easy ways to cut your energy bills and carbon footprint

Cutting your energy bills is not only good for our environment, it’s also good for your business.

Yet it is so easy to put off making changes for a host of reasons – we don’t have the time, it will be expensive, we don’t know what to do…

The good news is, there are lots of quick, simple and straightforward ways to take action and reduce your energy bills and environmental impact.

Here are 40 no- and low-cost, quick and easy ways to cut the amount of energy you are using and make those bills a little easier to bear.

Encourage energy-saving behaviour

  • Make use of our resource efficiency at work training package to teach your staff about the importance of saving energy in your business. It’s ideal for use as part of a new employee's induction or as part of your annual refresher training.
  • Set up a green team. One of the simplest ways to create change in your business is to encourage a dedicated group of colleagues to lead the fight against energy inefficiency.
  • Keep your staff motivated in the fight against energy waste. We have some great ideas for how to reward them.
  • Plan a switch-off campaign. So much energy is wasted by colleagues leaving lights and equipment on unnecessarily. Our free resources will help you get the message across.
  • If you do not have one already, train a green champion. They can undertake regular checks on energy waste in their department and produce informal reports on what can be improved.

Lay the groundwork

  • Conduct an energy audit. A quick site walk around can often reveal lots of energy-saving opportunities. Our free guide has everything you need to conduct a full energy audit of your business. It will also help you to prioritise your opportunities, and where necessary, secure the support and funding you need to make them happen.
  • Measuring and monitoring your energy usage is the essential first stage in any bid to save energy. It's a skill that every organisation – from the quirkiest coffee kiosk to the mightiest corporation – should master. We can show you how with our free guide and energy usage tracking spreadsheet.

Save on heating

  • Before they turn the heating on, encourage staff to make sure your windows or doors are closed. Leaving them open means you are effectively asking your system to heat the entire planet. Not a great idea.
  • Avoid using supplementary electric heaters. These are one of the most expensive heat sources to run. They may seem like a good idea to stop Andy from accounts moaning, but you’ll be the one complaining when you see your energy bill.
  • Find out how the heating system for your office works and make sure you are taking full advantage of built-in energy efficiency functions.
  • Reduce your office temperature settings by 1°C. It’s unlikely that anyone will notice and you could cut your heating bill by as much as 10%.
  • Don’t allow staff members to tamper with your heating controls. Instead, appoint a member of staff to have responsibility for them – and make sure all staff know who the appointed person is. Our downloadable poster can help.
  • Use timers and temperature control sensors. For example, an optimiser sensor fitted externally to your office building can set heating controls to warm up the office before staff arrive and shut off heating controls once the building is at the optimum temperature, avoiding overheating or the need to open windows.
  • Set your heating controls settings to take account of shift patterns and different seasons that have different heating requirements. This free template will help.
  • Make sure fans and pumps do not operate when buildings are unoccupied, except where they are needed for preheating.
  • Turn off heating in unoccupied areas (such as meeting rooms, storage areas). Nothing can be gained from heating areas where no-one is going to benefit from it.
  • If your office requires heating and cooling, you could make big savings by properly specifying a ‘dead band’ in which neither the heating nor cooling system is turned on. For example, heating turned off above 21°C and cooling turned off below 25°C has a dead band of 4°C. A dead band of 0°C or only 1°C will use significantly more energy. This is especially important if your office has heating and cooling provided by separate systems where there is an extra risk of the two working against each other.
  • Ensure heaters and radiators are kept clear by not covering them or placing furniture in front of them. This will enable them to heat up your office more efficiently. Download our free poster to help make the message clear.
  • Install heat reflectors to the walls behind radiators to improve their efficiency at relatively low cost.
  • Regularly service your heating system – a serviced boiler can save up to 10% on heating costs.
  • Check for drops in the pressure on your boiler. Reductions in central heating pressure can be due to problems with your boiler or the result of leakage. If your boiler pressure keeps dropping, you should seek technical advice.
  • Fit external doors with spring-loaded door closers to make sure they are not left open.
  • Draught-proof roof lights, doors and single-glazed windows to stop heat escaping from your office. Lost heat is wasted heat. Your boiler will have to work harder than it needs to, using more energy and costing you more money.
  • Install thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) where there are large natural variations in temperature across your workspace. TRVs can be used to quickly restrict the heat being delivered to the warmer areas of the building whenever necessary.
  • Use physical barriers to separate areas you are heating. Divide your site into zones (for example, corridors, meeting rooms, office space) which have different heating needs and set the ideal temperature range for each.
  • Insulate pipework under suspended ground floors and in the cavity above suspended ceilings as heat loss can be considerable in these areas.

Save on lighting

 

  • Be aware of over-lighting. Just as insufficient light causes problems, too much light can lead to glare, eye strain and headaches… and wasted energy.
  • Areas where people work need to be bright enough to allow them to work comfortably. The same applies to areas where your customers visit. But have a look at other areas such as corridors and toilets – these should not need to be so bright for as long or as often. Consider reducing lighting in these areas.
  • Encourage staff to only switch on the lights that they need rather than the whole floor area.
  • Switch off lights in unoccupied rooms such as store rooms, photocopier rooms, archive stores and kitchens. Get everyone into the habit of switching lights off when they leave these rooms. Download free posters to help get the message across.
  • Ensure lighting controls are clearly labelled, especially if they are grouped together. Labelling should be easy to understand to encourage staff to turn off lights on sunny days or when part of the office is unoccupied.
  • Run a ‘switch off’ campaign. It’s always cheaper to switch off lights no matter how short the time period.
  • Fit energy efficient lighting. If you fit energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), slimline tubes or light emitting diodes (LEDs), you can typically make immediate savings of up to 75%. These products also last up to ten times longer, reducing replacement and waste disposal costs. Using tri-phosphor coated tubes gives a more natural, brighter light.
  • Make sure lights can be switched off manually (particularly near windows). Installing zone controls and daylight sensors ensures that lights are switched on only when necessary.
  • Encourage staff to open the blinds and use natural light wherever possible, rather than turn on the lights.
  • Relocate any objects such as boxes, plants and paperwork that block light entering your office and try to position your desks where they can make the most of natural light.

General

  • Encourage staff to turn their computer monitors off if they are going to be away from their desks for more than 10 minutes – and certainly encourage them to turn off their PCs, monitors and communal equipment at the end of the day.
  • Get back to basics with a tea rota for teams. Instead of boiling the kettle five separate times, take it in turns to go and make a big round.
  • Take advantage of technology that allows employees to work from home when appropriate. And with fewer employees in the office, you can spend less on lighting and heating/cooling.
  • Some chargers continue to draw power when they’re plugged in, so unplug them when not in use.

 

Implementing these small changes could make a big difference to your energy bills. If you want more information on how you can identify areas where you can save money have a look at our heating and lighting guides.

And if you are a Scottish SME, contact us for a free, full energy efficiency assessment. On average we can save organisations 24% on their annual energy bills.

 

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