Energy efficiency ideas for business users

As utility bills rise, it's prudent to monitor your prices and reduce consumption to keep your costs as low as possible.

Changes in demand lower the wholesale price of fuel although this doesn't always flow through to lower unit costs. The wholesale electricity and gas markets have declined in recent years resulting from lower demand. Contributing factors include recent milder winters and reduced consumption from weaker economic activity.

Once economic activity rises, the prices are likely to increase from the increased demand. Colder winters also affect prices as businesses and consumers use more energy for heating their buildings.

The three-step cost saving plan

There are three areas to consider when attempting to lower your bills longer term.

1. Select the lowest priced tariff available

Managing your commercial contract is essential to keep costs down. The difference between the cheapest tariff in the market and a business that has never switched is 70%. A simple call to a broker or comparison site could see huge savings for a few minutes work. Here's how it works:

  • You need to formally terminate your current contract in writing or by email to your existing supplier. You can usually start the process three months before the end of your agreement.
  • At any time in the termination window, you can search for new prices.
  • Either use an energy broker, an online comparison service or contact providers directly.
  • Simply select the cheapest tariff rates available.
  • Sign your new contract electronically online or the paper copy you receive in the post.
  • Your new agreement starts once your existing terms expire.

2. Install energy efficient devices

Increased market competition has seen the cost of light bulbs, air-conditioning units, and computers plummet in recent years. Therefore, the initial investment in the cost of ownership is less of an issue than before. Lighting consumption is reduced by up to 80% in some cases and has a dramatic effect on costs.

The Carbon Trust estimate low cost changes reap between 10-20% in savings. The most common energy efficient measures businesses make are:

  • Conducting audits throughout buildings to ascertain where savings could be made.
  • Keeping heating and cooling controls at optimum levels.
  • Reducing heat loss with insulation materials but also keeping doors and windows closed.
  • Installing the latest energy efficient products that use less power to reduce bills and carbon emissions.
  • Investing in new control systems to manage heating, cooling, and lighting more effectively.
  • Replace old desktop computers with lower consuming laptops.
  • Remembering to switch items off when not in use that are not covered by any building controls.

Examples of consumption and cost of electricity equipment

You can check the money you can save by replacing your electrical items below. The chart displays the kWh usage for 12 hours a day over one calendar year. The cost shown assumes a unit price per kWh of 14p excluding VAT.

Item Description kWh/ Month Cost/ Month kWh/ Year Cost/ Year
10 Desktop Computers 630 kWh £95 7,560 kWh £1,134
10 Laptop Computers 113 kWh £17 1,356 kWh £204
50 x 40w Lightbulbs 504 kWh £76 6,048 kWh £907
50 x 40w LED Bulbs 101 kWh £15 1,212 kWh £181
20 Electric Radiators 4,536 kWh £680 54,432 kWh £8,165
15 Portable Fans 378 kWh £57 4,536 kWh £680

3. Monitor your usage

Energy EfficiencySmaller businesses can install cheap but effective energy monitors or smart meters to check and manage their consumption levels. These devices can integrate with software programs that monitor and check usage over the long-term.

Larger companies may require more advanced systems to provide more in-depth data to link with their half-hourly meter data.

With the data captured, you can analyse usage and make changes throughout your organisation.

Some government agencies suggest that savings of between 10-20% are gained just by measuring your performance.

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