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27 ways to cut your energy bills

19. Avoid micro-generation

Tiny windmills on your roof and photovoltaic solar panels might look like great investments, but there’s a reason why they aren?t more popular. At current energy prices, they just don’t pay. Windmills in particular need to be huge before economies of scale kick in. And you?ll need a prominent spot, 100m away from housing, to erect one. Solar PV is another red herring. In cloudy Britain, the pay-back time could be as long as 100 years, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

20. Use nature’s free heat source

Solar thermal is different to solar PV. Thermal heats water directly using the sun’s energy. Because the water sits in clear vacuum pipes, solar thermal works even on freezing cold and cloudy days. Heat exchangers are proven cost reducers too. This low-tech method involves piping water underground so it can absorb heat trapped under soil. Like solar thermal, it reduces heating costs even in winter.

21. Get your geeks on board

Computer servers devour electricity. But IT administrators don’t care about the cost: it’s not in their job description. So make it their duty to monitor and lower the energy costs. A software package such as Sentilla Energy Manager will provide real-time data on energy consumption and server usage, allowing administrators to either switch off redundant machines or use low-power modes.

22. Set a target

You?ve got KPIs across your business. Why not energy” Stephen Bentley, CEO of Granby Marketing Services, says goals are essential: “In 2008, we decided to work towards the ISO 14001 accreditation, to demonstrate our commitment to effective environmental policy. This involved setting ourselves the target of reducing waste by ten per cent, lowering energy usage by five per cent and increasing recyclable materials by one per cent. We have new, increased efficiency targets in place this year.

23. Drop a degree

Instant winner. Turn your thermostat down by a degree and your heating bill will fall by around ten per cent, according to the Energy Savings Trust.

24. Auto-off

Power down peripherals without lifting a finger by using an Intellipanel power lead. Plug in up to eight devices, then, when the ?master” device is turned off, all the other devices have their power cut, too.

25. Restrict water use

Californians say: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. Fortunately, there are more hygienic ways to cut down on water usage. Dual flush toilets and spray taps use less water. Restrictor valves lower your water pressure. A tap dripping once a second wastes 33 litres a day the equivalent of 446 showers a year. Dumfries House in Scotland asked its utility provider, Business Stream, to look for ways to cut its bills. Business Stream plugged leaking pipes and installed efficient water systems to cut usage from 64 cubic metres a day to three cubic metres, saving £11,000 a year.

26. Free money

The Carbon Trust is offering zero-interest loans for firms to invest in energy-efficient projects. Borrow up to £500,000, payable back over four years. The Carbon Trust will give your application a ?yes” or ?no” within 24 hours. What are you waiting for?

27. Boast about it!

Low overheads impress clients. Just ask Dougal Paver, MD of PR agency Paver Smith, which recently secured its ISO 14001 environmental standard accreditation: “I?m no tree-hugger I shoot my supper most weekends so we got our accreditation purely for business reasons. Certain clients take it very seriously. It’s a great differentiator and adds valuable points to public-sector tender scores. I’ve just won a £52,000 contract as a direct result.

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