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Businesses up and down the country are struggling right now with the substantial increase in energy prices and the rise in material costs.
Running a business is more expensive than ever, particularly for companies with physical premises to manage, and owners are looking for ways to bring costs down and manage their bills more effectively.
Business comparison website Bionic estimates that the average small business uses anywhere from 15,000kWh to 30,000kWh in gas and 15,000kWh to 25,000kWh in electricity every year.
Energy efficiency and energy management are two different things, though the terms may be used interchangeably. While energy efficiency describes power saving measures, such as switching to LED bulbs, for example, or using a smart metre, energy management is focused on using data to analyse your energy consumption and improve the energy performance of your business.
In times of high energy bills, this is crucial to improving economic competitiveness and producing the right results based on how your business actually uses power.
The cost of energy usage in the workplace is now a big problem, so to help with savings, here are some effective strategies to help your business tackle those rising energy bills without sacrificing productivity.
Carry out a quality energy audit
The first step in reducing your energy bills is to carry out a business energy audit by a qualified specialist. By doing so you can gain a clear picture of how your organisation is actually using utilities and where savings or changes can be made.
This means taking a thorough look at:
- the consumption of gas and electricity in your business
- where in the premises energy is being used
- what time of the day / night is your energy being used
- what purpose it serves across your plant, machines, etc.
It is worth noting that electricity isn’t always the right voltage when it comes in off the grid and this can damage your machinery and computer equipment, but this also means you’ll be paying more in energy costs.
Energy audits can be carried out by a professional team or by yourself — power analysers can be an effective way to identify electrical faults that could be costing your business more, as well as providing you with clear data you can use for decision-making.
Once all aspects of your business have been assessed, from systems and equipment to appliances indoors and out, you can look at the areas which are using more energy and find ways to reduce them.
Service your equipment to prevent faults
Keeping your business functioning is of paramount importance, and so it stands to reason that if a central appliance stops working, it could cost you considerable amounts in repairs, not to mention the increased costs you could be facing as a result of a faulty device.
“Regular servicing acts as preventative maintenance which helps to prolong the life of any mechanical equipment and prevent breakdowns, but it also reduces energy consumption to contribute to lower energy bills”, according to a leading commercial heating company. Keeping your business functioning properly and keeping equipment well maintained will help to keep running costs down by preventing faults.
Remember: Less is more
Whatever the nature of your business, whether you work in manufacturing, retail or an office block, there are ways to reduce your energy use simply by turning down the settings on some of the equipment you work with. Just a slight reduction can make a noticeable difference to your bills, but will go unnoticed when it comes to productivity.
Turning the thermostat down in the office, for example, even by just a few degrees, can help to reduce your overall heating costs without too much of an impact on the temperature in the building.
Similarly, installing evaporative condensers can help to remove excess heat in the summer months rather than using air-cooled condensers, as these use a wetted filter and remove heat more effectively. Motors are hidden within machinery and it’s easy for them to be forgotten about as a result.
Save money by turning off motors during breaks or control driving pumps and fans with variable speed drives.
Take advantage of green business rate exemptions
In April 2022, the government introduced green business rate exemptions to support energy supply security. This exemption applies to eligible plant and machinery used in renewable energy generation and storage, such as solar panels and heat pumps, as well as electric vehicle storage points.
It’s expected that the exemption ruling will remain in effect until 2035. Businesses can take advantage of these exemptions with the knowledge that the exemptions will also be backdated to the date they came into effect.
Educate yourself and staff on best practices
In so many businesses, it’s the people that drive energy demand. So effective energy management is dependent on your employees.
Keeping them engaged and educated on the importance of energy management is the key to bringing your energy bills down and encouraging them to take more responsibility for business solutions.
From putting up reminders around the office to factoring in discussions in monthly meetings where staff can get involved in discussions and aid the decision-making process, keeping it at the forefront of everyone’s minds can really help to have a collective impact.
Lastly, if your business is struggling to manage the rising costs, speaking to relevant energy providers or switching providers can be an effective way to manage the issue.
There are grants available and payment plans that can be adapted to meet your business’ specific circumstances. Even when the threat of recession looms overhead, there are ways your company can invest, diversify or adapt strategies sensibly to stay afloat. And, by making well-informed decisions, you can overcome the toughest of challenges.
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