Most small business owners will give the same answer when you ask them about their number one, biggest expense – business electricity and gas bills!
This being said, most business owners don’t even give their monthly utility bill a second glance – after all, it’s just a number, right?
But if you look closely at your bill, you may realise that there are certain areas of expenditure that can easily be avoided, leading to major savings for your business in the long run.
Here, we are going to look at some of the top ways in which you can conserve energy and become a more energy-efficient organisation.
Step one : Conduct an energy audit
The first step to solving the problem is understanding where your biggest energy consumption lies. Hire a company to carry out an in-depth inspection of your premises which will help determine your baseline energy use.
Many of these companies also offer ideas on how to cut down energy costs, after analysing your office’s energy consumption pattern. In case you can’t afford an external auditor, there are also plenty of analytical technologies that can help you track where energy is being wasted or where operations can be more efficient.
Step two : Upgrade your office equipment
Office equipment such as lighting, laptops, and kitchen appliances can be one of the biggest contributors to your energy bill.
Not only do these require large amounts of energy when in use, but they also expend a lot of latent energy when not in use. Upgrading and / or improving your use of these appliances can lead to major savings in the long run. Examples of how you can do this :
- Switch out regular lightbulbs with smart lightbulbs that utilize less energy.
- Switch off lights in unoccupied rooms manually or invest in motion sensor lighting systems that do this automatically for you.
- Encourage your staff to use sleep and hibernate mode on their laptops.
- Check if your office appliances such as TVs, printers, projectors, etc. have energy saving modes and keep them permanently activated.
- Use power strips to make it easier to switch off multiple appliances at the same time.
- Cut down on printing or switch to a paperless organisation altogether.
- Switch off kitchen appliances such as microwave, electric kettles, and television monitors when not in use.
- When looking to purchase new appliances, check the energy rating beforehand to ensure that they have been deemed as energy efficient.
Step three : Heating and ventilation
Instead of wasting huge sums of money on heating and cooling systems, embrace energy saving solutions that will help keep your employees happy, while saving cost and energy consumption. Air conditioners and heaters not only cost a lot to run, but are also less environmentally friendly when compared to other solutions. Some ideas on how to improve this are :
- Switch to fans or ventilators, rather than air conditioning.
- Invest in programmed thermostats that will automatically adjust temperature when people are no longer in the office.
- Use screens, curtains, solar window shades, or other temperature regulation tools that don’t require energy usage.
- Construct your office building strategically. Account for windows to let in more light, ensure they are built in a direction that allows shading from the sun, and plan for the placement of equipment in spaces that will reduce the need for temperature control.
- Plant trees outside the office to keep the building cool and help clean the air.
- Put one person in charge of temperature control, and keep the office at a fixed temperature rather than increasing or decreasing it constantly – this will prevent corresponding fluctuations in your bills.
- Change the filters on your air conditioning regularly to ensure that blockages are not resulting in an increased use of energy.
Step four : Increase staff awareness
Becoming a more energy conscious organisation is not a one-person job. It requires cooperation from every single employee, which can often prove difficult, since not everyone is aware of how much energy is consumed and how much it costs. Getting your team involved can help promote an organisation-wide culture of energy saving which will have maximum results. This starts with:
- Increasing awareness through posters, team meetings, company e-mails, induction handbooks and other staff policies.
- Encouraging employees to use energy consuming devices during low or off-peak times to stagger the cost of energy consumption.
- Further motivate and incentivize employees through gamified programs, or reward employees who contribute the most towards business energy conservation goals.
- Organise employee innovation drives where staff can come together and brainstorm ideas on energy saving.
- Drive change from the top down by promoting initiatives that the management and leadership team have taken to decrease energy consumption.
Step five : Water conservation
Water leakage is another major area of organisational energy waste that more businesses ought to pay attention to. Environmental experts expect worldwide shortages of water to become an extremely important issue over the next few decades, and water suppliers have started increasing their water rates in response. Here are some ways in which your organisation can respond:
- Identify and treat any water leaks in your business – even the smallest leak can lead to lots of wastage over time.
- Use equipment that is more efficient in water usage – automatic faucets, insulated water heaters, and water saving showerheads are just some of the most popular solutions.
- Upgrade to more efficient water heating systems.
- Reduce landscape water use, especially if you have an office with lawns or a garden.
Step six : Consider alternative sources of energy
An increasing number of businesses have started sourcing and switching to alternative sources of energy, such as solar or wind energy. While the upfront costs of investing in an alternative energy system may seem high, the long term pay off is worth it, especially when you take into consideration the environmental impact of switching to a renewable energy source.