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How to keep your energy bills down as winter draws closer

Nine energy saving tips now the nights are drawing in


 We all love the extra hour in bed when the clocks go back, but the feelgood factor can rapidly disappear when we see the increase in our energy bills.

But it doesn’t need to be a winter of discontent. We are here to show you how making even small changes can mean you aren’t spending more than you need to on heating and lighting during the colder months.

If you still have some staff working from home, sharing our advice could help them as well if their current office is the kitchen table or spare room.

1. Change the timer on your heating when the clocks change

This is your number one job when the clocks change, unless you have a modern heating system with a clock that automatically updates. If you don’t adjust it, you will end up with the heating coming on an hour early in the morning before anyone has arrived at work. Not only is that a waste of money, but it also means your staff will be chilly in their final hour of the day. For those working from home, this is equally important.

2. Ask staff to switch off lights when they're not needed

With fewer daylight hours, staff reach for light switches earlier in the day – and this costs money. In fact, for some businesses, lighting can account for as much as 50% of their electricity bill.

A quick way to save energy is to make sure lights aren’t left on in rooms that aren’t being used, including offices, meeting rooms, storage cupboards, toilets and other infrequently occupied spaces. It makes sense, but we must all be guilty of leaving the light on by accident at one time or another. It’s easy to forget.

If you are using only part of your usual space, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of only turning the lights only in the areas being used.

Our website has everything you need to help you encourage and remind your colleagues to switch off lights when they are not needed. Resources that are ideal for running a successful ‘switch-off’ campaign in your business include a range of professionally designed, downloadable posters; stickers; and web graphics.

Encouraging staff to be more energy efficient and reduce bills can be done throughout the year. If you want to see how it’s done, read this great example from Edinburgh Leisure, which reduced energy use at one of its sites by 13%.

And if you’re working from home, consider investing in a low energy LED desk lamp rather than having to illuminate your whole room.

3. Lable your light switches 

It’s the end of the day, you’re about to head home and go to turn off the lights in your area. But instead of a simple click, you’re faced with a number of light switches on the wall. Which switch is for your area, and which one will plunge the rest of your colleagues into darkness?

If you’re like most people, you probably won’t take the risk of making the wrong choice and just head straight out of the door, leave all the lights on and let the last person out switch them all off. This is a common occurrence in businesses and a big waste of energy. However, there is a simple solution, just label your light switches. There’s a free template on our website.

4. Get your lighting for free, by using natural daylight 

Sunlight costs nothing, so make the most of it. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses that have lights on in daylight.

So, open your blinds, declutter your windowsills and let the light shine in. And, it’s not only your energy bills that will feel the difference. Natural daylight helps improves productivity and has the added bonus of improving the overall wellbeing of your staff.

This is just as important if you’re working from your home office. If you can, move to a room that receives the most natural light. 

5. Allow hot desking 

Setting an ‘ideal’ temperature that will keep everyone happy can be a cause not just for office unrest (and lost productivity), but it can really crank up energy bills. All too often someone will turn up the heating, quickly followed by someone else switching on the air-conditioning because ‘it is too hot’.

People are different and no single temperature is right for everyone. At the same time, as luck would have it, most buildings have warmer areas (next to server rooms, equipment, etc) and cooler areas (near the doors and windows, and away from equipment). So, if you can, set up a hot-desking system that allows your staff take advantage of these temperature differences and sit (socially distanced) where they feel most comfortable.

Be careful if you have a reduced number of staff in the office that you don’t use a bigger area than necessary, as what you save by leaving the heating alone will be lost by having the premises lit up like the Blackpool illuminations.

Again, for home workers, try to use a room that retains its heat to avoid having to keep the heating on all day.

6. Fix draughty doors and windows 

Draughts are a problem for many businesses in Scotland, and it’s not pleasant if you’re sitting in the path of one of them. One of the most effective ways to reduce your heating bill is to reduce heat loss. And the cheapest way to do this is to plug the gaps where you’re losing warm air.

Overly draughty doors and windows can be quickly, easily and cheaply fixed with some brush strips and foam tape.

7. Upgrade your lighting 

Ok, you’re not going to be able to do this overnight, but if you have older types of lighting, the sooner you upgrade to newer technologies, such as LEDS, the quicker you’ll start saving and stop wasting profits.

And, if your premises are still empty with everyone working from home, now would be a good time to make the changes without causing any disruption to the workforce.

Installing LEDs is one of the most common measures businesses are undertaking to reduce energy costs – with the potential to cut bills by 75%, you can see why the technology is so popular.

If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise, and you’re not sure if your lighting should be upgraded, please speak to one of our advisors. Their help is free. They can look, do the sums and tell you if your lighting should be upgraded. They’ll also be able to help you apply for an interest-free SME loan from the Scottish Government to help you make the change.

8. Service or upgrade your boiler 

If you haven’t already done it this year, get your boiler serviced or, if it’s getting old, consider upgrading to a newer, energy efficient model. A new boiler could not only save you on maintenance costs, but it will undoubtedly also reduce your energy bills. Typically, boilers over 10 years old will start to become less efficient and can be attractive candidates for an upgrade.

A new or well-maintained boiler can save your business at least 10% of its energy costs.

Again, our advisors can help you understand your heating options, and interest-free loans from the Scottish Government are available if it’s time for an upgrade.

9. Upgrade your insulation 

Are your walls, roof and underfloor spaces appropriately insulated? If you’re not sure, you’ll want to find out – otherwise you could be paying more then you need to keep your workplace warm this winter. Give our team a call on 0808 808 2268 and we’ll help you.

Because insulation has such a positive impact on reducing your energy use all year round, it’s also covered by the Scottish Government’s SME Loan.

So, nine simple tips to help you keep those energy bills down over the winter months, while still making sure your employees have a comfortable space to work. 

 

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