Take control of your energy bills

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Take control of your
energy bills

Energy saving tips

Understanding your businesses energy bill is a good way to save money and combat climate change. At SSE Airtricity we provide a full range of energy saving advice, tips and programmes to help you control your energy use.

What is energy efficiency?

The first step to managing your bills is understanding energy efficiency. Energy efficiency measures aim to reduce the amount of energy used to perform a task or power operations, with the goal of eliminating energy waste. These can be anything from a simple behavior adopted by management and staff, such as powering down monitors at the end of the day, right up to a deep retrofit of your premises.

When considering how to make your business more energy efficient the “4R” business model can help get your business on the path to a cleaner, greener future.

     1) REFUSE or avoid energy waste.
     2) REDUCE energy consumption where possible.
     3) REPAIR and maintain equipment, machinery and systems essential to your business for them to operate at optimum efficiency.
     4) RETROFIT and upgrade to innovative, efficient technologies that work for your business.

How can I control my energy usage?

If you’re new to energy saving there are some simple steps to guide you through a review of your business’ energy consumption - Identify, measure, improve, track and repeat.


Whether your business has 10 or 10,000 employees it’s very important to start by identifying the energy hotspots at your premises. These differ by industry but generally fall under 3 categories:

     1. Heat: Anything that generates heat by using energy on-site including applications like space and water heating, steam generation or heat generation.
     2. Transport: Anything that consumes fuel for the transportation of people, good or services.
     3. Electricity: Anything powered by electricity from the grid for its operation such as electrical equipment, machinery, etc.

These energy hotspots, or large energy users, will differ based on the nature of your business but the following are some of the most common examples.

Heating: Most businesses consume a substantial amount of energy by simply fulfilling heating requirements. Industrial and commercial boilers burn fuel to generate heat and are used for space heating, hot water generation and steam production.

Ventilation & Air Conditioning: These systems play an important role in your premises, replacing the indoor air while also controlling the temperature and humidity for all, or part of, the building. They can also consume a significant amount of energy particularly for office blocks, hotels, hospitals, indoor facilities and industrial buildings.

Lighting: Keeping the lights on is essential for any business but lighting systems can be intensive energy users. If not properly maintained or optimised they can be responsible for up to 40% of electricity usage.

Smart meter page 3 A better way to manage your energy costs min

Office Equipment: The smaller individual units around a workplace can be surprisingly big energy users. Everyday office essentials like PC monitors, printers, IT servers, kitchen appliances and vending machines can be responsible for a significant share of your businesses energy consumption if not used optimally.

Production Equipment: Vital to the production industry for its daily operations, it’s also a serious energy hotspot. This includes electric motors, drives, compressed air units, fans, pumps and refrigeration systems. This equipment not only consumes large quantities of energy to operate but can also contribute significantly to energy waste if poorly maintained or inefficient.

Transport: As it may not be used on site, we often neglect to think of the energy consumed when transporting the goods, services or people essential to day to day operations. Anything that uses fuel (diesel, petrol or electricity) to transport contributes to your business’ energy usage. This is often omitted into the consideration of energy users by most of the businesses although most businesses have transportation as big energy user directly or indirectly. Direct and indirect transport is now considered the fastest growing consumer of energy and is responsible for the largest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.


Once you’ve identified the energy hotspots within your business the next step is to understand how they are consuming energy.

     1. Start with a review: Every successful energy efficiency project starts with a review. It’s important to look closely at your current usage, your energy costs and your legal obligations. Although energy saving is everyone’s responsibility, it’s well worth appointing an ‘energy champion’ within your business who will be in-charge of your energy efficiency goals. They’ll be responsible for the review and the practical implementation of your energy saving plans.

    2. Gather information: How much energy does your business use in a week or month? Take meter readings weekly or monthly to establish your benchmark amount. Remember, you’ll use different amounts depending on the season so when starting your reviews take into consideration factors such as the extra cost of heating in the winter or air conditioning during hot summer weather.

    3. Survey the large energy users in your premises: You can either do this yourself or hire an expert to do a detailed audit. At its most basic, a survey review starts with a walk around your building looking closely at the large energy users and noting the energy consumption weekly or monthly from the localised energy meters, if available.

Improve and upgrade

Set a reduction target: After measuring the baseline energy data, the key to improving your energy efficiency is to set a reasonable and achievable energy reduction target (typically 10% reduction annually). You can set targets based on total energy consumption, energy waste or even by energy hotspot, whatever works for you and your business.

Act: Implement appropriate actions to reduce day to day energy consumption. This can be as simple as encouraging staff and colleagues to engage with energy efficiency and make some small behavioural changes like turning off lights and monitors, thinking before printing or closing windows and doors to retain heat. It all starts with awareness so the key to energy saving is getting your team to take those small steps. Further efficiencies can be achieved by undertaking projects to upgrade equipment and systems or by installing new technologies which may have costs associated with implementing.

Track and repeat

Tracking your progress towards your energy reduction targets is just as important as implementing the action. Simply measure the target areas energy consumption at regular intervals following the upgrade. Compare the results with the baseline data from your initial audit and evaluate to ensure the new measures are delivering the desired results. Share the progress with your colleagues to continue driving awareness and motivation.
Finally, repeat. Setting up yearly targets will keep your business committed to energy saving.


Energy efficiency tips & advice – Heating

Simple no cost measures

• Set timers to the correct date and time, especially when the clocks change.
• Reset the heating hours for summer and winter months. Switch off heating completely during hot summer weeks.
• Consider working hours for weekends and holidays when setting controls for space heating and water heating. Optimize heating controls for peak times when the building is in maximum use.
• Generally, it is recommended to set space heating below 19°C and cooling above 24°C.
• Set the temperatures lower than 19°C in corridors, storerooms and areas of higher physical activity.
• Set hot water to 65°C instead of higher setting.
• Heat escapes through open doors and windows and through poorly insulated or single glaze windows. Always close doors and windows when it’s cold outside.
• For industrial heating systems, monitor the steam distribution network for leaks or other issues.

Other measures

• Upgrade to smart electronic thermostats and radiator valves to remotely control at optimum levels.
• Boilers need to be serviced annually and adjusted for optimum efficiency.
• If your boiler is more than 15 years old, it may be worth checking its energy rating to see if you’d be better off upgrading to a modern, more efficient unit.
• Insulate hot water tanks and pipes and make sure hot taps don’t drip or leak. Never leave water running unnecessarily.
• Upgrade building fabric or install wall insulations to reduce heat loss from the space.
• Insulating pipework and hot water storage tanks can significantly reduce heat losses in the heating system.
• In a large production facility, consider installing a heat recovery system to reduce any heat waste.


Energy saving tips BE 4 Heating min

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Lighting

Simple no cost measures

• Encourage people to turn off lights when they leave an area and create regular reminders for staff.
• Ensure that lights are switched off when buildings are unoccupied.
• Ensure all lights in store cupboards/plant rooms or other areas that are not normally occupied are switched off.
• Make sure staff can easily identify which switch controls lights for their workspace.
• Review lighting levels in different building areas to ensure it is adequate for the activity in the space. Consider minimizing, but maintaining safe lighting levels, in nonworking areas like corridors which are often over lit.
• Make the best use of daylight coming through your windows and roof lights. Relocate any objects that block windows to make use of daylight. Rearrange office layout to maximize daylight use on the desks. Keep all window blinds open during daylight hours where possible.
• Maintain regular cleaning of windows and skylights. Arrange cleaning of light fittings at least once a year to maintain optimum lighting without increasing energy use.

Other measures

• Install timer switches to control the lighting outside of working hours.
• Install Occupancy Sensors in areas that are only used from time to time such as storerooms, toilets, corridors, etc.
• Daylight sensors can be used to automatically lower lighting levels optimizing any natural light that may come into any space.
• Consider repainting your workspace with a light reflective paint colour to maximize light gains into the space.
• Look at any areas in your business where the lights have not been replaced for some time and consider upgrading to a more efficient options like LED Lighting.


Energy saving tips BE 1 Lighting min


Energy efficiency tips & advice – Ventilation & air conditioning (VAC)

Simple no cost measures

• Regular cleaning of air ducts and inlets can extend the lifetime of VAC components and helps maintain optimum efficiency.
• Switch off VAC systems during non-operating hours, weekends and holidays to save energy.
• Align cooling times with working hours and periods of peak occupancy.
• Switch off localized extraction fans and ventilation devices when not in use.
• Open doors and windows where possible to take advantage of natural ventilation.
• The use of air conditioning system can be minimized by reducing the unexpected heat emissions from unused operating office equipment.
• Keeping VAC filters clean.
• Maintain a temperature range of 19°C to 24°C for heating/cooling in the VAC systems.

Other measures

• Carry out regular maintenance of VAC systems to ensure optimum performance and maximum efficiency.
• Install automatic controls for VAC systems with time switches and sensors to maintain optimum performance.
• Upgrade with new, more energy efficient components like fans to achieve long term energy and cost savings.
• Variable speed drives can help to reduce energy consumption of VAC systems by allowing speed reduction of fans based on changing space needs over the course of the day
• Consider investing in heat recovery devices to recover any heat lost in the ventilation.

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Motors & drives

Simple no cost measures

• Switch off motors instead of leaving them idle.
• Attach an operating schedule to all machinery so operators know when it should be turned off. Use an hour's run meter to measure how long equipment has been running and compare with the required hours of operation.
• Reduce the operating time of motors whenever possible by improving control of motor driven loads and switch them off, either manually or automatically, when not required.
• Turn off all machines (fans, pumps, conveyors, equipment) outside of operating hours, at weekends or during holidays.
• Lower the motor’s speed by 20%.
• Ensure motors are regularly cleaned as a dirty motor will get much hotter than a clean one and this can result in increased inefficiencies.
• The 'loading' of a motor is the amount of work it does compared with its capability. Matching the right size motor to the right load (typically 75% loading) can ensure optimum performance.

Other measures

• Regular maintenance of motor systems including regular lubrication, checks for belt tension and alignment testing can to save up to 10% on energy consumption. Prepare a schedule and procedure for motor maintenance and ensure staff promptly report faulty or noisy motors. Have a plan for repairing failed motors, which compares long-term repair vs. replacement costs.
• If the motor size is big for its required purpose, consider replacing the motor with a smaller and more efficient option.
• Always consider investing in high efficiency motors for new equipment.
• A Variable Speed Drive (VSD) is a system that can control rotational speed and torque on an AC motor by adjusting the power supplied to the motor to match the load requirement. A small reduction in the power load can have significant benefits for the consumption of electricity on sites motor installations.

Energy saving tips BE 2 Motor drives min

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Compressed air units

Simple no cost measures

• Only consider using compressed air in processes when essential. If possible, use high speed fans as they are cheaper to run.
• Consider switching off an idle compressor, either manually or automatically, as it uses almost 40% of its full load during idling.
• The simplest way to improve the efficiency of compressed air units is to identify and repair leaking areas into the system. Regular leak checks can avoid energy waste.

Other measures

• Invest in self-isolating pipework for compressed air systems in large facilities as it reduces waste and leakages due to isolation.
• Consider using cool air compression systems (possibly with heat recovery) to reduce load on the compressor and to improve the overall energy efficiency of the facility.

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Refrigeration

Simple no cost measures

• In larger refrigeration systems, check for bubbles in the refrigerant cooling liquid sight-glass as they indicate a leak that should be repaired.
• Refrigerators and freezers should be located away from heat sources in order to reduce cooling load on the refrigeration system.
• Keep condensers and evaporators clean and free of dust and dirt. Introduce a scheduled maintenance programme to check for scaling, ice build-up, damaged vent fins which can impact the systems performance.
• Check and maintain strip curtains on walk-in refrigerated spaces.
• Ensure seals and gaskets are in good condition.
• Check air flow around refrigeration units and remote compressors to ensure that they are not obstructed and that grills are not blocked.
• Avoid overcooling and maintain correct temperatures as per requirements of the stored items.
• Avoid overloading or empty running refrigeration systems as it impacts performance of the systems

Other measures

• Upgrade older systems with newer, more efficient refrigeration technologies.
• Service refrigeration system and components annually.
• Annual calibration of controls will maintain performance
• Invest in pipe insulations and good quality seals to reduce cooling losses.
• If refrigeration output varies significantly (e.g. refrigeration systems in retail stores), consider using two (or more) smaller refrigeration units rather than one large one and turn off any unused equipment.

Energy saving tips BE 3 Refrigeration min

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Electric Vehicles

If your business involves being on the road then switching to an electric fleet can cut your businesses carbon footprint drastically. The electric motors used by EVs run at over 70% efficiency when converting power from the grid to power for your car. In comparison, a conventional fuel engine runs between 15% and 30% efficiency. EVs are also proven to be environmentally friendly with zero tailpipe emissions; and when combined with renewable power source for charging you can feel good every time you switch on.

For more information on how to reduce your carbon footprint and build a greener, cleaner business, contact our dedicated team at BusinessEnergySolutions@sse.com

Energy efficiency tips & advice – Office equipment

Simple no cost measures

• Office equipment can account for up to 15% of the total consumption in offices. Turning off non-essential, unused equipment can help save energy, lower costs and extend the lifetime of equipment
• Operate equipment on “Eco” mode where possible and keep it on “Stand-by” mode when temporarily not in use.
Place high heat-emitting equipment like printers in a cooler area of the office (e.g. near widows or ventilation outlets) to reduce the need for VAC load in the space.

Other measures

• Use inexpensive plug-in timers on non-essential equipment to cut off power automatically outside of operational hours.
• Equipment must be cleaned regularly to maintain optimum efficiency.
• When investing in new equipment, account for goods with higher energy efficiency ratings (preferably A or A+). Although the equipment may require a higher initial investment the energy efficiency will make it more cost effective over time.

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