How businesses can save energy and costs - Business Works
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How businesses can save energy and costs

by Chris Reilly, Head of SME Commercial, npower It's that time of the year again where we turn the heating up and the lights on across businesses says Chris Reilly, Head of SME Commercial at npower. In fact, the average business can see its energy use double over the winter period.

However, there are plenty of opportunities to make quick and easy energy savings this winter with some simple tips:

  • Check times - Check heating time clocks have been adjusted to reflect Greenwich Mean Time and are only on when the business is open. Turning heating off when the business is closed, for example at weekends, could save nearly 30% in costs
  • Service boilers - Service boilers now to ensure they run efficiently over the winter. Inefficient boilers can waste up to 35% of energy compared to modern models. Many boilers can also be retro-fitted with energy-saving devices (optimisers) to reduce energy consumption by 10 - 15%
  • Check thermostats - Make sure thermostats are set correctly. Turning the temperature down by just 1°C can achieve savings of 8%. 21°C is the recommended temperature for office and shop environments Ė but heating can often be set at 19°C as heat from equipment and lighting often brings the temperature up to keep employees warm and comfortable. You should also ensure that heat emitters, such as radiators, are not obstructed, preventing heat from circulating
  • Switch off - Turn all machinery and equipment off at the end of each working day. Computers, photocopiers, lights and heaters are frequently left on overnight and at weekends. Switching them off when they are not in use can save up to 12%

energy saving in manufacturing

For businesses looking past this winter and focusing on achieving savings throughout 2014, itís also worth considering other longer-term energy saving changes. During the last 12 months, weíve carried out a number of energy audits at companies across the UK Ė including a printer in Minehead, a manufacturer in Telford, a pub in Leeds and a convenience store in Birmingham Ė and we found that savings of up to £5000 a year could be hidden across some of the nationís small and medium-sized businesses.

Hidden savings

The audits used the average annual expenditure on energy from the businesses visited to reveal approximate energy savings including:

  • Around £3450 from implementing voltage optimisation for a manufacturer
  • More than £770 from increasing staff awareness of energy consumption and implementing real-time energy monitoring at a pub
  • £600 from air conditioning maintenance and changes to temperature set points for an independent retailer
  • £100 from lighting improvements at a printer

Taking to the shop floor

In addition to our work with businesses through the energy audits, we also wanted to really get under the skin of what itís like to run a small business in the UK, particularly looking at whatís practical in terms of reducing energy use. To do this, the senior management team have undertaken work placements. I visited Minehead-based printing business, Exmoor Printers.

I had a great time working alongside the team and I was able to take a first-hand look at the everyday needs of the business and what is or isnít realistic when it comes to reducing energy use. This visit, combined with the details of the energy audits, has shown the great potential for energy saving in UK companies, so it is certainly an area businesses should focus on to boost their bottom line.

For more information about npower and how to save energy for your business, please visit:

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