Energy Saving Advice for SMEs

UK energy utility nPower have highlighted some simple steps that can be taken by SMEs to unlock potential savings on energy costs which all sizes of businesses could also benefit from.

Here are some basic and sensible tips nPower offer for businesses looking to save on energy use. They cover several areas which can hold the key to driving down energy consumption and bills.

1. Reduce wastage – SMEs need to ensure energy usage is efficient. It sounds simple, but if lights, air conditioning, heating and ventilation and other equipment are not required, then they should be switched off. Control systems are available to do this, for example, technologies which will switch off display cabinets automatically when they are not in use, e.g. when a retail outlet is closed.

2. Look at lighting – Businesses keep premises well lit for customers and employees, but savings of up to 20% can be achieved by making small level investments in energy efficient technologies. Changing from halogen spotlights to LEDs could save up to 80% of energy used and reduce maintenance costs too, as they last many times longer.

3. Heating up - Assessing heating and ventilation equipment can also make a big difference. Heat can easily escape out of the front door of any premises or building with large, open entrances. One way to save energy is to install ‘air curtain’ equipment above the entrance. This provides a stream of hot air, keeping the warmth in and the cold out. Old, poorly maintained boilers can also waste up to 35% of energy input through inefficiencies. Well maintained, modern, high efficiency or condensing boilers can have seasonal energy efficiencies of more than 90%, making significant savings.

4. Keep cool with refrigeration – When using refrigeration, it is important to ensure all units are well maintained, clear of any debris which may restrict airflow and positioned away from radiators – failure to do this can lead to fridges consuming more energy than required. Make sure fridges are set to the lowest optimal temperature needed to maintain the quality of your stock.

5. Get employees involved – Changing employee behaviour can also have a real impact. All staff should be encouraged to think about energy usage and their role in reducing consumption. Appointing an ‘energy champion’ can be a simple but effective step. They can assist by taking responsibility for initiating small-scale efficiency practices and reminding fellow staff members of the everyday steps they can all undertake to bring energy usage down.

The recent npower Business Energy Index (nBEI) revealed that nearly half of SMEs are embracing the business growth opportunities offered by good energy efficiency practice. However it also showed that a sizeable number have yet to examine the potential for energy efficiency driven savings which can then be re-invested back into the business.

The UK Carbon Trust say that good energy management practice can result in cost savings of between 5 and 25% per year. In a challenging business environment, SMEs would be well advised to take a close look at their business practices to see where potential savings could be made.

Picture of UK small shops by Mary and Angus Hogg [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday 25th November 2013

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