During the coldest time of the year, it’s easy to worry about how much energy you are using and whether this would be an extra cost for your business.
How can your business go about saving energy over the winter months? We’ve gathered four top tips for SMEs on conserving energy use in the workplace during the chilliest season.
We all know that the longer heating is on and the higher your thermostat is set, the higher your energy bills will be. But in many businesses, an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude is adopted towards thermostats and timers. The result is unnecessary energy use.
Keep in mind that heating costs increase by around 8% for every 1°C increase in temperature. A more energy efficient approach to thermostats and timers can make a big difference.
Ensure that the heating in offices is set at the recommended 19°C and that temperatures are set lower in storerooms, corridors and areas where the level of physical activity is higher. Make sure any timers you use are set to the right date and time – be extra vigilant when the clocks change and when weekend and bank holiday weekend hours need to be taken into consideration.
You may also want to take note of how your office space is arranged and used, then make adjustments to the thermostat based on indicators like footfall and radiator placement. Once you’ve mastered your tweaks to the thermostat, get a member of the team to take responsibility for making sure the controls are not meddled with.
During the winter months, insulation can make a big difference to energy use. A poorly insulated workspace will see heat escape and cold air enter at much higher levels. According to the Carbon Trust, unnecessary ventilation accounts for around 30% of heat loss in most commercial buildings.
Conducting a check of your doors and windows for heat loss is advisable, especially if your business is based in an older building. Investing in double-glazed windows and having draught excluders around doors will come at an initial cost, but they could go a long way towards saving energy (and money) in the colder months.
Of course, another aspect of the season that may affect energy efficiency is the impact that shorter days and longer nights can have on lighting. The impulse to rely on indoor lighting is especially relevant given that it can account for up to 40% of a building’s electricity use. We have already looked into the energy and cost savings of using lower energy bulbs in an earlier blog post. But there are also simple steps you can make in terms of maximising natural light and minimising unnecessary office lighting.
Natural light may not be present for the full workday during winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Check your office for areas where natural light is not being used to its full potential. Keep window blinds open during daylight hours and make sure windows and skylights are cleaned regularly to keep natural light at its purest and brightest.
For the lights you already have in the office, make sure fittings are regularly cleaned and that you reduce lighting in non-working areas such as corridors. One low-cost solution that can have a big impact on energy use is installing lighting controls and sensors. The Carbon Trust notes that occupancy sensors, which work by dimming or switching off lighting when there are no people in a room, can reduce an organisation’s electricity use by 30%.
Your efforts to save energy over the winter months won’t go far unless you have the entire team onboard. Encourage everybody in your business to become conscious of their energy use in the office.
You may want to set a measurable, achievable “winter goal” for efficiency and share it with your staff so that you can work together to reach your energy-saving targets. Or alternatively, you could set small individual targets for responsible energy usage.
We’ve already recommended getting a member of staff to take responsibility for thermostat controls at work. In addition, try introducing small everyday initiatives like tea runs (so that the kettle is boiled only once for multiple hot drinks) or asking employees to take a minute to check personal equipment is shut down at the end of the day. Permit and encourage staff to desk swap so that employees who don’t feel the chill as much are nearer windows and those who need to be toasty are closer to radiators.
Actions like these are great for company morale as well as business energy savings because they will show that you are attentive to the individual needs of your employees – something that’s vital to creating a successful culture within your business.
Saving your business energy over the winter months used to seem like an impossibility. But with a number of small steps, simple investments and the full support of your staff, it can be done. If you would like to read more, check out our next six tips on how to reduce energy consumption in your business this winter.
Looking for more guidance? If you’re hoping to manage energy usage more efficiently this winter, we can help. The Valda Energy team use our combined authority and expertise to ensure that SMEs like yours make the right choices with their energy, every day.