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Four big resource saving ideas

Air Source Heat Pumps

Who for? Anyone, but especially those without a natural gas supply.

Why? A renewable alternative to space heating.

Advantages: They use a renewable energy source, which reduces your carbon emissions and cuts your heating bills. Getting energy from the air around you is not subject to fluctuating prices. Air source heat pumps last longer than traditional boilers. Installation and maintenance is easy.

Things to be aware of: They don’t work so well if the temperature is below zero, so it might be good to have a backup energy source, just in case. You’ll need some outdoor space for it. Some electricity is required to power them.

Air source heat pumps are a popular option for the businesses we engage with. If your property is in an area without a natural gas supply and using costly options such as oil, LPG or electricity, then they’re worth considering. Costs start at around £8,000 but will vary depending on the size of space you need to heat. It may seem like a hefty investment but it will knock chunks off your energy bill. And you can always apply for an interest-free SME Loan to help with the upfront costs.

Varis Holiday Cottage in Lochalsh installed a £12,000 air source heat pump to replace a coal stove and back boiler. They also opted for a £6,000 solar PV to go truly off-grid and were very happy with the results. They found it worked even when guests pumped up the room temperature to a toasty 25°C. Perfect!


Heating controls

Who for? Anyone and everyone.

Why? To reduce energy and cut heat bills.

Advantages: Requires zero investment.

Things to be aware of: It requires some time to monitor and plan.

If you can invest some time, but don’t want to make a big cash investment, then optimising your heating controls can cut your energy use substantially. Small actions, such as turning down the heat by 1°C, can yield big results. A comfortable working temperature is around 19-21°C so there’s scope for tweaking, depending on the internal heating systems of everyone in the room.

You could turn off the heat in your building a half hour earlier than usual. It takes a while for all the heat in a building to dissipate so no one should even notice. And don’t forget to make sure that the heat is turned down or off in spaces that aren’t being used. An ‘optimum-start controller’ is a useful bit of kit. It helps you control your heating by measuring internal and external temperatures and detecting how quickly the building reaches the set temperature. It then learns when exactly to turn the heat on and off to achieve your optimum temperature.

When we trialled the impact of heating controls at Edinburgh Zoo, we worked out they could reduce heat costs in the chimpanzee house by 24 per cent simply through smarter use of their existing system. This included setting room and system water temperatures, and carefully controlling operating times and ventilation rates. Over a year these changes had the potential to shave £6,500 from the zoo’s heat bills. If such changes were applied to the whole zoo, the potential for savings soared to £100,000.

The only investment needed to create this level of savings is time to monitor and plan. It shows that significant reductions in heating bills are within everyone’s reach without investing a penny.


Biomass Boilers

Who for? Organisations with a large carbon footprint without a gas supply and/or a large heat demand. Especially good for hospitality businesses, and places where there’s a steady supply of local wood pellets.

Why? Provides a renewable alternative to fossil fuels for all heating needs.

Advantages: It will save energy, reduce carbon emissions and cut your heating bills. It’s a renewable energy and hence not at the mercy of fluctuating prices. They last longer than traditional boilers.

Things to be aware of: The installation can be a little disruptive so for hospitality businesses it’s best if they’re installed in the down season.

If you’re a business with a larger than normal requirement for heating – for example, a hotel, warehouse, or educational or recreational establishment then it’s worth investigating biomass boilers. You might need to make a substantial investment but you’ll recoup your costs fast. Biomass boilers give you a carbon neutral heating system, reduced bills and an ability to forecast your energy costs better because you’re not subject to the whims of a fluctuating energy market. Costs vary depending on the size of the boiler, but start at around £10,000.

When Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre decided to take the plunge and swap out their electric heating system for a biomass boiler, they reduced their energy bills by 25 per cent. We calculated it would take just under nine years to pay back their initial investment. Not bad given the lifetime of a biomass boiler is 18-20 years.

Forestry by-products could heat 1,500,000 homes across the UK. Biomass boilers are therefore perfect for Scottish businesses since most UK forestry takes place north of the border.


LED Lighting

Who for? Anyone and everyone.

Why? To cut energy use and get more effective lighting.

Advantages: Use less power than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They’re brighter than CFLs, and reach full brightness as soon as they’re switched on. They last four times longer therefore minimum bulb changes required.

Things to be aware of: It can take a substantial upfront investment, especially if you have a big space to light.

Large spaces require lots of bulbs to light them, and a mighty chunk of energy. If you have a factory, warehouse, gym or any other space that needs lit, then switching to LEDs is a no-brainer. They use less power than the old-style low energy CFL bulbs (around 40 per cent less) and last around four times longer. And you don’t just save money you save landfill waste and get rid of a large amount of bulb-changing maintenance. LEDs actually emit a decent amount of light and don’t take forever to warm up like CFLs so you’re not compromising on quality. Which means your workplace can start to feel more like a contemporary 21st century work space instead of a candle-lit, Dickensian workshop.

Installation costs can be expensive depending on your size. It cost East Kilbride signage company, Merson, £52,000 to make the change to its 4000m2 warehouse. But the company has reduced its energy bills by 50 per cent, so they’ll pay this back in a short four years. That’s a saving worth shining the spotlight on…

If you’re a small to medium sized business, we can assist you with your application for the Government SME Loan. Unsecured, and interest-free (apart from renewable technologies with an interest rate of 5%), the loan can help you with the upfront cost of purchasing resource saving technologies.


Call us

For any and all business energy advice and support on 0808 808 2268 Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.


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Our support to help reduce your business costs is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.