Energy efficiency is an increasingly hot topic. Businesses around the world are being urged to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint in an effort to tackle the impact of climate change.
But many businesses struggle to increase their energy efficiency, presuming that only large firms can make significant changes. In reality, firms of every size can make big energy savings – meaning that they can improve their environmental credentials and save money at the same time.
Your office is likely to be the best place to start when looking for potential energy savings. So here are our top tips for turning your premises green.
1. Nominate a co-ordinator
For many businesses, nominating an individual to take charge of energy usage is the single most important step towards bringing down bills. Once someone has ‘ownership’ of this task, they can begin formulating a comprehensive plan to help the business reduce its usage.
If you run a relatively small business, it might well be that you nominate yourself to tackle this. But regardless of who you choose, simply appointing someone will help to ensure that energy efficiency becomes a priority.
2. Think about lighting
According to some recent surveys, lighting accounts for as much as 30 per cent of the average office’s energy use. You can make a big dent in your energy bills by thinking again about your lighting arrangements.
To begin with, try looking at the areas of the office that are used the least – like storerooms, bathrooms, and so on. Do these areas need to be lit all the time? If not, consider installing ‘occupancy sensors’. These devices are fitted to lighting circuits, and automatically turn off lights when no motion has been sensed in a room for a specific length of time.
You may also wish to consider the type of lighting you are using. For example, do you really need 80 watt bulbs in your emergency exit signs? Try swapping these for low energy alternatives, like LEDs.
Recycling is a simple and effective way to reduce your environmental impact. By simply placing a few bins in the office, each for a different type of waste, you can help to ensure that as little as possible goes to landfill.
Better still, many local authorities arrange recycling pick-up from business premises. Contact your council if you are unsure about waste collection in your area.
4. Abandon paper
Many businesses use far more paper than is necessary. Consider ways that you can share documents digitally, rather than printing them off to show colleagues. This can help reduce both paper and ink usage – and cut your overheads at the same time.
5. Look at equipment
When you are upgrading or replacing equipment, make sure that you consider energy efficiency before making a decision. Energy efficiency labels are now displayed on a range of electronic items, making it easier for business owners to make informed choices.
You may also find that your energy usage can be reduced simply by ensuring that existing equipment is in good working order. Consider having a qualified engineer inspect key items regularly, and get them serviced when necessary.
6. Reduce drips
Water usage is often overlooked by businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact. But a single dripping tap can waste as much as 90 litres of water each week – a not insignificant cost over the course of a year.
Make sure that any worn washers or valve seats (the part of the tap onto which the washer fits) are replaced. You should also note that dripping can be worse in hard water areas, as tap components corrode more quickly. If your office is in a hard water area you may therefore consider fitting water softening equipment to help prolong the life of your taps and reduce dripping.
7. Encourage new habits
Changing behaviour amongst employees can be one of the most effective ways of reducing energy efficiency. For example, do staff members often leave their computers on overnight? If so, you are likely to be using more than twice as much energy than is necessary.
Consider ways that you can encourage better energy saving practices amongst employees. This might involve leaving posters or notes around the office, or offering incentives to employees that demonstrate ‘best practice’.
Energy efficiency is a big issue for businesses of every size. By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your environmental impact – and slash your outgoings at the same time.