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.
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.