Energy price rises. Energy price rises. Energy price rises.
It’s all anyone is talking about, and there’s a good reason why. By spring 2022, our bills could be rising as much as 50%.
Without a government solution, this will not only hit households hard, but businesses too, especially those in high-consumption businesses like manufacturing.
One proposed answer to the crisis is to remove government ‘green taxes’ placed on our bills, but as we are only just emerging from the COP26 and our commitments to sustainability, is this really the answer?
We’re not professing to be energy experts here, but this new economic terror has certainly got us pondering about our business energy usage.
Do we need to go green?
So, you’d assume that if you had signed up to one of those fancy ‘renewable-only’ energy companies, you’d be safe from the green taxes right? Wrong.
We won’t go too deep into the extremely complicated world of government levys, but in short, they help to pay for the development of greener industries like biogas, solar panels on individual homes, boiler upgrades and smart metres.
They also pay for a whole host of industry subsidies that are designed to stabilise and incentivise the price of renewable energy.
So even if you’re paying a company that fuels it’s entire network on tofu and hugs underprivileged endangered dolphins at the weekend, it doesn’t matter, your bills are going up.
It all seems a bit ironic, doesn’t it? Doing our best but still facing the consequences.
Ok, so why bother?
Aside from the simple fact that less energy used = less billable consumption, businesses really need to lead the way when it comes to being responsible planet custodians.
Ok, if we’re really honest it’s the government that needs to do that, but we can’t have it all.
According to a recent study, approximately 10% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by households and home consumer products. Around the same percentage belongs to agriculture, but a whopping 52% is caused by industry.
Regardless of what the energy giants want to advertise, the vast bulk of responsibility for climate change isn’t on you for leaving your boiler on too long at home – it’s businesses.
Chances are, most of you reading this article aren’t directly pushing the buttons at global pollution giants like BP, but a revolution has to start somewhere right?
The benefits of committing to eco-friendly business
I mean, aside from the glorious ‘holier than thou’ glow you get to wear as someone who’s doing their bit for the environment, there are some other benefits for businesses too.
The biggest of those being the fact that the entire consumer market is becoming more eco-conscious. It’s not just good for your marketing, it’s also protection from the consumer backlash that those who don’t take steps, are subject to.
Aside from that, making eco-friendly decisions can lead to cost efficiencies now and in the future. Investing in greener technology now might mean you can get hold of a great incentive or grant for doing so. You’ll also be miles ahead of your competitors when they eventually think about catching up with the trend.
I’m in, how do I reduce my energy usage?
Look Into Greener Technology and Equipment
Now is the time to speak to your suppliers and see if they have some leaner, greener machines available. Upgrading machinery and technology can be a big cost, but it’s worth getting your accounting team to create a financial model that weighs up the investment cost vs. the long term cost of energy consumption.
Many of us are guilty of having extremely old equipment, and the fact is, if it’s not using energy efficiently, then it may be practically leaking money.
It may cost you say, £20k to upgrade equipment, but if it’s saving you £20k over the next 3 years through your energy bills, then it’s a no-brainer.
Train Your Staff to Increase Energy Efficiency
One person can’t make a sustainable change in your business – you need the buy-in of every person at every level.
That’s why it’s so important to train your staff to work in a lean and efficient way.
Training in lean manufacturing can reduce the costs associated with unnecessary wastage and help your employees to complete the work required quickly, safely and in a much more productive manner.
If they’re meeting their goals quicker, then that’s less time spent with machines on, using energy. If they’re reducing waste, then that’s less time spent transporting supplies and equipment. Less idling vehicles, less power wastage, less supporting infrastructure needed.
Less is indeed more!
Let Non-Essential Workers Work From Home
The people in your business working the floor can’t work from home, but do your back-office staff really need to be on-site?
According to Finder, an average office with 100 people could cost as much as £34,854 per year in energy bills alone.
With differing staff schedules, chances are your office lights and other appliances are left on much longer than they need to be to serve those using them.
Of course, working from home can pass on the energy cost to your workers, so consider providing energy-efficient equipment for home workers, or subsidise their costs.
The Air-Con is a Big Con
There’s no bigger energy waster in the office than the air-con.
While we can’t claim to be big air-con users in the UK, why not consider monitoring your office temperatures using a smart system.
These integrated systems can automatically turn the air-con on, only when it is over a certain temperature. When the temperature stabilises, it turns off again.
This also has the added benefit of ending the continual conflict between workers over whether it’s too cold or too hot.
Right after air con, the biggest business energy-waster is lighting.
You wouldn’t think that the humble little lightbulb was an energy-guzzling beast, but when you have a veritable army of non-efficient florescent lights, you’ve got trouble.
The answer could be as simple as moving your outdated lighting system over to energy-efficient LEDs.
You could even integrate your lighting into your smart system, so lights only turn on using sensors when people are present – bathrooms are a big one for this!
Modernise Your Admin
Still printing? Paper is one of the biggest waste products that comes out of a business, and we simply don’t need to use most of it.
Your printer is probably the largest device in your office, and it’s consuming an equally large amount of power. Taking steps to become a paperless office can really reduce your carbon footprint.
It’s probably even easier than you think too. Cloud-based digital filing systems are now more secure, simpler to use and cheaper to set up than ever before.
Turn It Off
Did you know? A whopping 46% of business energy use falls outside of standard working hours.
It’s quite mind-blowing to think that you’re using all that electricity and spending all that money on bills when you’re not even there.
Educate your staff to turn their computers off at the end of the day rather than pressing the standby button. Designate someone to go around and switch off non-essential plugs at the end of the day (like the printer, the office gym equipment or the kettles!).
Hiring an energy officer or office manager may even pay for itself. With someone responsible for cutting down your energy usage, you’ll quickly wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.
So what do you think? Will you be trying any of these eco-tips? Let us know!