Winter often means significantly increased energy usage, from keeping your office well-lit and warm all day to the kitchen kettle working overtime.
While you may have budgeted for increased energy spend in the winter months, there are many effective energy-saving initiatives you can implement right away so that winter bills don’t affect your bottom line as much as it could. In fact, the Carbon Trust estimates that most businesses could cut their energy costs by at least 10% with just a few straightforward changes to the office.
This means that turning down the thermostat by 2°C could see a £140 saving for every £1,000 spent on heating costs.
These eye-watering facts may be enough to get you to change your habits, but just how do you get started?
Here are seven actionable energy-saving tips to help your bottom line this winter.
Watch your thermostat
In the last 40 years, the average room temperature in the UK has risen considerably, largely due to the ubiquity of central heating and improved insulation in office buildings.
Even small changes to the thermostat can result in savings. It may take a little trial and error but experimenting with the thermostat could see significant savings on your energy usage.
The basic level of warmth required for a healthy and well-dressed person is 18°C according to the World Health Organisation and the latest UK cold weather plan.
That said, you don’t need to keep the thermostat running 24/7 and some areas of your office may need more or less heating than you think.
TIP: Install a seven-day time switch on your thermostat so you can adjust different settings for each day and make adjustments accordingly.
Is your thermostat in an appropriate location? Have you checked the temperature in draughty areas, where there’s direct sunlight or radiators? These are just a few factors you can take into account when setting your thermostat so that it keeps staff warm without wasting energy.
By running a thermostat audit, you can find out if you’re heating areas you don’t use, like stationery cupboards or meeting rooms that are rarely used. You can also keep temperatures low in hallways and corridors based on footfall in these common areas.
With shorter periods of daylight in the winter, most offices use light sources more than ever earlier in the day.
TIP: Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs if you can, as they last longer and burn just as bright.
Consider investing in motion detectors to control lighting in areas that aren’t frequently used, like bathrooms, stationery cupboards or meeting rooms.
Check for heat loss around the office property
Heat loss can add a strain to your office heating, requiring more energy to heat the same area.
TIP: Check windows, doors and duct systems for any leaks or draughts. Make sure all doors are closed as much as possible to prevent heat escaping.
You may be surprised by how much heat can escape from your office space due to poor insulation. Run a test to see if your office space is properly insulated, especially if you’re based in an older building. Consider upgrading to double-glazed windows and doors that seal shut when closed to prevent heat escaping.
Install a smart meter
A smart meter can help you control energy supply to match demand effectively.
TIP: Upgrade your meter so you have full transparency over your energy consumption and don’t have to work with estimated billing.
To see how these benefits can turn into real savings, read our previous article on how smart meters can help your business improve energy efficiency. Check your business energy suppliers’ website to get started. If you’re a Total Gas & Power customer, you can find out more about the options available to you and request your meter upgrade at totalgp.com/meterupgrade.
Get your staff involved
Motivate your employees to think about their energy usage and the impact this has on the environment (and your business). Involve staff in the efficiency objectives of the company so they have a say in your initiatives.
Rather than setting one large goal to cut energy usage, set small manageable targets and keep employees updated so that they know how their efforts are making a difference. This will help you to assess progress at regular intervals.
TIP: Start by setting the company’s intentions and objectives to cut energy usage, and then share tips on how individual employees can do their bit.
Print reminders to turn lights off in areas that are not in use, or to fill the kettle to the maximum etc. You could even encourage staff to start tea runs, which can be a nice bonding exercise in addition to an energy-efficient way of using kitchen amenities.
With Black Friday and Christmas sales just around the corner, this could be the perfect time to upgrade old equipment, including computers and printers.
TIP: Switch to laptops where you can. Not only does it make it easier for your employees to adopt flexible working and hot desking, laptops also consume 90% less energy than desktop computers.
Most new tech products tend to focus on energy efficiency. Look for the ‘Energy Star’ logo on all equipment you use.
Speak to your supplier
If you are reaching the end of your existing energy contract, this could be the perfect time to find the best deal for your energy use. Ask the right questions when comparing suppliers to keep your energy bills are as low as possible.
TIP: Do your research to explore your options when it comes to your energy supplier, or even the type of contracts and tariffs available to you.
Check out these additional energy-saving tips for small businesses below.
Energy efficiency can be a real challenge for businesses of any size during the winter, but the increase in energy usage shouldn’t mean a huge strain on your bottom line. Try these seven energy-saving tips to keep costs low, from quick changes in how you use company equipment to long-term sustainability initiatives that involve every member of staff.
To see how much your business could be saving on its energy bills, visit Total Gas & Power.