By Mark Sait, CEO of leading energy-saving specialists SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com
Carbon inefficiency is costing British businesses billions of pounds. 90 per cent of British businesses say rising energy prices pose a threat to their competitiveness and 83 per cent of SMEs say they will miss their growth targets this year because of energy price rises.
Utility bills have doubled in the past decade and are forecast to double again in the next 10 years. And the Government has repeatedly warned that the era of cheap energy is over.
Despite this stark reality and the added pressure of legislation to cut energy use, thousands of businesses are burying their heads in the sand by failing to adopt some simple measures which could save energy and reduce costs significantly. Whilst some are adopting home working and virtual office working, business need to step up and find ways to cut carbon in their physical offices.
Here are our top tips for businesses on how they can both save money for their business and cut carbon in the process:
- Utilities Audit
Businesses can take some simple steps to make big savings on their energy and water bills. To start with, every company, whatever its size, needs to conduct regular comprehensive energy and water management audits. Utility costs continue to rise, and it’s no longer an option to ignore the effect on business.
Time is precious but the information is essential for making the right energy-saving decisions as well as for effective measurement, forecasting and monitoring. There’s no benefit in investing in a range of solutions with no way of identifying their level of success.
Nearly half of SMEs’ energy consumption accounts for 25-50 per cent of total business costs and yet despite this only 20 per cent see energy management as ‘very important’ (according to a recent NPower survey).
If you are only going to make one change in your business to improve energy efficiency, it should be to change traditional lighting to LED lighting. By every measure, LED lighting delivers very impressive results, cutting electricity use by up to 90 per cent. The payback time is quick – as little as 12 months – and the LEDs go on saving energy for many years.
For many environments, LEDs are a ‘fit and forget’ solution, with up to 50,000 hours of life compared to the 1,000 hours of traditional incandescent bulbs, 2,500 hours for halogen fittings and 8,000 hours for traditional tubes. Apart from massive savings in energy, maintenance costs are also reduced substantially.
As an example, if a company replaced 60 tube lights with LEDs it could save around £2,200 a year in electricity costs. Top quality LED panels are also an extremely popular, effective and energy efficient way to light a working environment. Providing a higher, more consistent flicker-free light, they are the perfect replacement for the traditional 600×600 modular luminaires and fluorescent tubes, commonly found in most commercial installations.
The quality of light from the best LEDs is also much better, which helps to improve both retail and general workplace environments.
After lighting, water is a good focus for businesses looking to quickly reduce utility costs, with rapid return on investment. For any company on a water meter, managing consumption is transparently beneficial but remember that all businesses will benefit from reduced usage, which saves on energy needed to heat and pump the water.
Fitting eco taps and/or tap aerators should ensure that water consumption is cut by more than half. The best eco taps and aerators work by cleverly mixing air with water flow, without affecting the experience.
The same applies in shower environments. Replacing a water- guzzling shower head with an eco shower head reduces consumption by more than 50 per cent and many people prefer the “champagne effect” of water-saving aerated products as well.
- Smart Controls – heating
Intelligent controls for lighting and heating can also make a big dent in utility bills. In heavy use settings, heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) smart controls ensure that heating and ventilation costs are kept to a minimum when a space is not being used.
HVAC uses a huge amount of energy, especially in 24/7 operations like hospitality, hospitals or residential homes. Energy surveys demonstrate that it can represent typically 60 – 80 per cent of the total building’s energy consumption.
- Smart Controls – Lighting
Lights left on is pure waste but easy to do. Intelligent controls will turn off automatically when rooms are not in use and adjust to the environment, dimming or switching off when more daylight is available in the room.
Smart light controls provide up to 60 per cent savings on existing lighting electricity usage and with LED replacement solutions, the savings are even greater. Lighting typically accounts for approximately 20 per cent of electricity usage in a new construction or retrofit commercial applications, which include spaces such as classrooms and offices.
- Pumps and Fans
Motors are the workhorses of industry, driving machines, compressors, fans, pumps and conveyors in virtually all industrial sectors. Not only are pumps and fans numerous, they also have the greatest energy saving potential. Nearly 70 per cent of all electrical energy consumed by industry is used by the millions of electrical motors installed worldwide. And as millions more motors are added or replaced, there is a compelling case to buy variable speed drives (VSD) and high-efficiency motors, which can deliver energy savings of up to 50 per cent. What’s more, the payback on investment is very quick – from as little as six months.
Many pumps are oversized or poorly matched to current process needs – that problem is solved with variable speed drives that adjust the speed of the motor to match the exact production needs and so save energy. Motor speed control offers industry the single largest opportunity for saving energy and money. Most motors run at a fixed speed. By adjusting the speed to more accurately match the requirements of the loads, which generally vary over time, you can enhance the efficiency of motor drive equipment – and of course save your company money in the process.
Changing behaviour is sometimes hard so it makes sense to focus on the simple, effective, rapid-return solutions. Retrofit lighting, water and heating products do not demand any changes in behaviour and make the biggest difference to the bottom line.
SaveMoneyCutCarbon is a full-service resource efficiency partner for businesses and consumers who want to save energy and water and cut ever-increasing utility bills. www.SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com is a portal for advice and products to reduce costs and carbon footprint across all main areas of consumption: lighting, water, heating/ventilation and boilers. The website features a unique calculator that shows for each product the annual reduction of CO2 emissions as well as the savings in energy and water bills.