Summertime weather doesn’t just mean lunchtimes spent in the park and a round of mid-afternoon ice lollies for the office. The longer, warmer, brighter days can also be great for your business too. Helping you to cut your energy use, reduce your environmental impact and save money. Well, it can if you take some simple steps to take advantage of the summer weather.
To help, we’ve come up with some suggestions to help make saving this summer a breeze in your business. So, don’t sweat it, take advantage of the summer months with these five tips.
We are lucky that most workplaces have access to air-conditioning these days. But air-conditioning uses energy, and that costs your business money. And, air-conditioning is often used badly, sending bills sky high – out of control faster than a rocket full of monkeys.
So, before you rush for the air-conditioning controls this summer, here’s a simple tip to start with – ask yourself, do you really need the air-conditioning on in the first place? Chances are, for much of the day at least, opening a few windows could provide all the cooling you need, completely free of charge.
If you have tried that, and still find it’s too warm, take note, this tip comes in two parts – remember to close your windows before you switch on your air-conditioning. If you don’t, you’ll just end up trying to cool down the entire world outside your window – and that isn’t going to be cheap.
Dress codes in our workplaces have changed a fair bit in recent years, with ties and suit jackets now often being reserved for days with important meetings (or at least when senior management is in town). Many of us also have dress down Fridays – an entire day when we can come to work as we please, within reason.
Having the freedom to dress appropriately when the weather warms up (e.g. ditching the suit for a linen shirt or dress) can have a big impact on the amount of cool air your air-conditioning unit has to pump into your workplace to keep staff comfortable. So, it can pay to relax your dress code on hot days and allow staff to dress more appropriately. In addition to dress down Fridays, perhaps you could start dress down Sun-days too.
Not so easy if your staff wear a uniform, but perhaps the same principle could be adopted to ensure your uniform can be varied to suit different weather conditions.
Is there that one person in your office who likes the temperature to be cooler than everyone else – and is complaining about being too hot when the temperature tiptoes over 10 degrees? Do you have another that needs to wear three cardigans and a scarf under the same, ‘unbearably cold’, conditions? You’re not alone (although we might have exaggerated about the scarf).
Setting an ‘ideal’ temperature that will keep everyone happy can be a cause not just for office unrest (and lost productivity), but it can really crank up energy bills. All too often, we see offices where the air-con is switched on one minute, quickly followed by someone else firing up the heating because ‘it got too cold’.
To help you avoid this situation in your business – here are two tips for the price of one.
First, allow staff to hot desk. Believe it or not, people are different and no one temperature is right for everyone. At the same time, as luck would have it, most buildings have warmer areas (next to server rooms, equipment, etc) and cooler areas (near the doors and windows, and away from equipment). So, if you can, let your staff take advantage of these temperature differences and sit where they feel most comfortable. You never know, by doing this, you might not even need to use your air-con or heating at all.
Second, if you have an automated heating and cooling system, maximise the deadband on your controls. The deadband is the gap between the temperature at which heating stops and cooling starts. If this is set as wide as possible (a minimum of 4°C is good practice), it will prevent the simultaneous operation of heating and cooling systems in neighbouring areas and maximise the time when neither system is operating.
‘Insulation – isn’t that for keeping warm in winter?’ you might ask. And you’d be right. Except, good insulation actually works all year round. In the summer it’s magnificent at keeping your precious, air-conditioned cool air indoors and the heat outside.
That makes for two great reasons to make sure your workplace is properly insulated – it saves you money on your heating in the winter AND it saves you money again in the summer when you’re trying to stay cool.
What’s more, because it has such a positive impact on reducing your energy use all year round, there’s government financial support to help you insulate your workplace – such as the Scottish Government’s interest-free SME Loan Scheme, which currently has a cashback grant incentive of up to £20,000 for energy efficiency measures, while funds last.
The warmer weather is the ideal time to have your boiler serviced. As your boiler’s not going to be in such high demand, taking it offline for a while is going to cause minimal disruption, if any. Plus, it can pay financially to have the work done now, rather than waiting until winter when heating engineers are flat out on call-outs and you can expect to pay a premium for their services.
A newer, energy efficient heating system could not only save you on maintenance costs, but it could also reduce your energy bills. Typically, boilers over 10 years old will start to become less efficient and can be attractive candidates for an upgrade.
Heating upgrades are also covered by the Scottish Government’s SME Loan Scheme at the moment.
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