Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Saving energy is one of the easiest ways for you to cut costs. Even making small changes to the way that your business uses energy can mean big savings.
To understand how much energy your business is using and where the biggest savings could be made, you should take regular meter readings.
See the page in this guideline on how to monitor your energy use.
To help you start saving money, here are our top tips for no and low cost measures which are easy to carry out, with links to further support.
The most effective energy saving programmes involve everybody within a business. Savings of 5 to 10 per cent are common - often through employees suggesting and implementing the measures detailed below.
Try to reduce heating temperatures in the winter by one degree, as this can cut your heating bill by up to 8 per cent. Conversely, in summer, increase the set point for your air conditioning. Ensure that thermostats are accurate by positioning them away from draughts and direct sunlight.
Keep doors and windows closed when heating or air conditioning is running. Fitting draught excluders and making sure your premises are well insulated should be very cost effective, with short payback times. The Carbon Trust's guides CTL062, CTL063 and CTL064 contain further information on draft-proofing and insulation.
By keeping windows and skylights clean, you can cut the amount you spend on lighting. If you are only working in one part of a room, isolate the lights to that area only. Make sure switches are labeled so staff only turn on the lights they need. You could also consider installing presence and daylight sensors to turn the lights on and off automatically.
A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day can cost over £50 a year. Switching it off out of hours and enabling standby features can reduce this to £15 a year. You could also fit seven-day timers to ensure equipment like printers, copiers and water chillers are turned off overnight and at weekends.
Compressed air is often generated at maximum pressure. Reducing pressure by 10 per cent can lead to 5 per cent savings in energy. Make small, incremental reductions, checking that operations aren't affected. Also, regularly test for and fix leaks - even a tiny leak could cost you more than £700 a year in wasted energy.
Because motors are hidden within machinery, they are often forgotten and left running when not in use. Save energy by identifying and turning off motors during breaks or job changes. To make further savings, motors driving pumps and fans can often be controlled with 'variable speed drives'.
On average, it will cost you £4 every hour a freezer door stays open. For refrigerated cabinets, consider fitting low cost PVC curtains or night blinds.
One common factor across all the measures above is the need to maintain your equipment to make sure it's operating efficiently. This can range from cleaning light fittings and windows, to keeping ventilation and compressed air filters clean, to checking door seals and repairing holes and leaks.
Make sure you read your meters regularly. This will enable you to identify how your company is using energy and where it's being wasted. For more on this, see the page in this guideline on How to monitor your energy use.
For further sector-specific energy saving advice, see the page in this guideline: Energy efficiency tips for different types of business
In Scotland, the Energy Saving Trust has developed the Green Network for Businesses. This tool allows you to search by postcode for green businesses in your area. All these businesses have installed energy saving or energy generating technologies .
Once you identify the business that has installed the green technology you are interested in, contact them to organise a visit.
Resource Efficient Scotland has produced a series of free, online training modules for SMEs. The training will help develop the skills and knowledge needed to put in place effective resource efficiency measures in your business. They deal with energy, waste and water efficiency. You can work through them at your own speed, choosing the modules that are relevant to your business.
Simple ways to save energy
My Year at NetRegs, A reflection on my time as an intern with the NetRegs team at SEPA. An overview of all the activities and projects I had the opportunity to participate in during my Bright Green Environmental Placement.
A day with Hydrology, SEPA's hydrometry unit is responsible for around 400 gauging stations and 350 rainfall monitoring sites. River gauging stations are important as they allow river levels to be monitored so flood events can be predicted and flood warnings sent out.
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