For entrepreneurs and small business owners, it can be a difficult task running a business and trying to succeed in the market, without having to think about green business ideals. However, it is more often than not the case that a small business should start simple with energy efficiency – which is what we are going to do today.
Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the survey unlocking the benefits of energy efficiency and found of the 278 major global corporations involved that eighty-three percent reported significant cost savings due to programmes they had implemented, while fifty-four percent of respondents noted enhancements to their brand’s reputation. Big business, yes, but as noted by the study, businesses generally underestimate the value of green business to their investors – or potential investors.
In the UK, even simple changes can make a big difference, with the Carbon Trust reporting that UK businesses together could save more than £400 million a year by improving hot water boiler efficiency.
Let’s start simple. Changes to lighting are often simple but effective:
- Turn it off: If there are windows and there is plenty of light, turn off the lights and enjoy the natural ambience.
- Change the lights: A change to energy saving light bulbs can make a big difference. For example, incandescent light bulbs are less efficient than halogen or compact fluorescent lamps.
- Clean it: The life expectancy and output of lighting can degrade if dust and other dirt collect, so make sure to keep it clean.
- Occupancy sensors: These detect movement in a room and turn the lights on and off accordingly, generally costing up to $80 depending on circumstances.
Another simple but effective way that small or larger business owners can reduce energy wastage is by keeping track of their heating:
- Turn it off: It’s that one again, but it is applicable if people are not there to be kept warm. Consider setting a timer if you know employees will be starting and finishing work at a certain time; otherwise it may be chilly at start time.
- Be heating energy efficient: As the seasons change the temperature of your business’ heating should reflect this. Try different settings on the thermostat to find the one that saves energy and works for your employees.
- Don’t let in the cold: Cracks or gaps, or damaged windows, can let in drafts, but sealing these can ensure the thermostat is not turned up.
- Open the window: If the summer has arrived and you and your employees need some cooling down, consider opening the window rather than touching the heating.
Office energy efficiency is hampered by several items around the office that waste energy and money. But you can make a difference:
- Monitor: If a PC is not in use for a while switch it off, and make sure this is done at the end of the day.
- PCs: Some cleaning and general maintenance can make a difference to the energy usage of a PC. If you hear the fan working hard it’s probably because there is a lot of collected dust.
- Printers: Consider networking several employees to one printer as this will lead to energy and cost savings.
- Photocopiers: They sit in the corner of the office and waste a lot of energy while they sit there idly. Other than turning them off when they are not in use – yes, that one again – consider using the double-sided option and run copies in batches. Also, don’t buy big, buy the copier that actually suits your business requirements.
The smart grid in both America and the UK uses communications technology such as smart meters to maximize the efficiency and affordability of electricity. These smart meters use ‘big data’ for households and businesses to give insights into where energy is being wasted and where it can be saved. These can help you as a business owner to save money and understand your business’ processes. In the UK, there are also half hourly meters which work to provide bespoke costs and not ones based on estimates. Half hour metering is applicable if your business expands and can help companies to monitor usage and implement programmes. In the UK, half hourly meters are generally a mandatory requirement for large users of energy.
So what have we learned today? That it is often simple changes that can improve a business’ energy efficiency and expenses. The following, and article ending, action steps should hopefully help entrepreneurs and small business owners to implement the elements discussed above:
- Analysis of premises: Take a look around your workplace and see if you can find any areas where energy is being wasted and where key changes can be implemented.
- Analysis of competitors: How are other businesses in your industry working to change their energy consumption? Can you do the same or better?
- Energy saving champion: Depending on the current level of your business and the resources available, appointing an energy saving champion can give your organisation a spearhead for change.
- Seek out help: Organisations like the Carbon Trust offer a range of services to help businesses improve their green standings.
- Meter reading: As mentioned above there are smart meters like half hourly meters as part of the smart grid which give you real insights for change.
- Energy supplier: Speak to your supplier and see what changes can be made. Also, do not be afraid to see what else is out there.
Jason Smith is the utility manager at businesselectricityprices.org.uk which has helped thousands of businesses each year to reduce their energy bills by providing guidance on green energy and energy management.
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