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As winter approaches, many businesses will be bracing themselves for the dreaded hike in energy bills. The colder weather and darker evenings inevitably lead to increased heating and lighting costs, but there are some simple strategies that can help to minimise the impact on the bottom line.
With most businesses seeing a rise in energy usage during the winter months, now may be a good time to have a smart or AMR meter installed if you haven’t already done so. Smart meters are a new generation of energy meter that can send information about your energy use directly to your supplier, while AMR is an attached device that transmits the meter reading to them.
One of the major advantages of these devices is that they remove the need for you to manually read the meter and send the data to your supplier. Readings are instead sent automatically, leaving you free to concentrate on running your business. These automatic readings also bring an end to estimated billing, meaning you’ll only pay for the energy that you actually use.
In one discussion on UKBF, member TOMJ83 summed up the pros of making the switch to a smart meter: “The benefit I can see is that you don't have to take note of the meter readings yourself. It will be automated. Another benefit is that you will receive accurate bills.”
Smart meters also provide a useful insight into the business’s consumption patterns, helping you to monitor your energy usage. This increased visibility gives you more control over your energy consumption, making it easier to identify potential cost-saving opportunities.
To request a meter upgrade you’ll need to contact your existing supplier, or if you’re a Total Gas & Power customer, visit www.gas-power.total.co.uk/meterupgrade.
As well as upgrading your meter, there are other steps you can take to keep your gas and electricity costs under control this winter.
Energy efficiency in the office
Make sure staff turn off their computer when they leave the office – this could save up to 75% in energy consumption in one year alone. The same principle applies to other equipment such as printers, photocopiers and coffee machines.
Discussions on UKBF reveal that some users are already adopting energy-saving practices, despite the challenges. In one thread, UKBF member Ashley Price said: “The difficulty is I am in serviced offices, so there is only so much I can do (e.g. I cannot change energy supplier).” However, he went on to suggest some practical tips for like-minded business owners: “I still switch the PCs off at night (not just the screens). I don't leave screens on when I don't need them [and] the printers are switched off when not in use (sometimes it can be days before they are needed the next time).”
Efficient use of lighting
Savvy use of lighting can also help to reduce energy costs. Encourage staff to turn off lights in unoccupied areas or spaces where there is sufficient daylight, and consider using motion detectors to control light in low usage areas such as meeting rooms.
You might also want to install high-frequency fluorescent lighting, which has been shown to reduce electricity consumption by up to 25%. Meanwhile, task lighting can be used to only light the areas where you’re actually working.
Heating your premises
It’s important to get your heaters and boilers serviced regularly, as poorly maintained appliances can increase running costs by up to 30%. You should also pay attention to the thermostat – reducing the temperature by 2°C could save you around £140 for every £1,000 spent on heating your business. To avoid wasting energy, set a comfortable ‘dead band’ of 5°C between the thermostat’s heating and cooling set points.
Make it a combined effort
Remember, you’ll need everyone in the business to commit to saving energy if you’re to see a significant reduction in your bills, as UKBF user Psl points out. “Ensuring that everyone in the business follows the same principles, is a must. The most effective manner in which to start to become energy-efficient is to ensure everyone in the business, from the owner to the tea maker, takes proactive steps to turn energy-consuming assets off when they are not in use.”
Total Gas & Power is a leading supplier of gas and electricity to small and medium sized businesses across the UK. To discover how they can help you and your business, visit www.gas-power.total.co.uk.