Winter is officially here.
Well, it is if you go by the meteorological season. It started on 1 December. Going by the astronomical season (based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun), winter won’t actually begin until 21 December.
With snow already falling in England, and severe weather warnings for snow and ice being issued across Scotland, it really doesn’t matter whether we’re talking meteorologically or astronomically – it’s safe to say that it certainly feels like winter now.
And what does that mean for your business?
Well, it means that, for the next few months, your colleagues might be reaching for their portable heaters, turning up the office thermostat, and running your heating for longer and longer every day so that they can, quite rightly, stay comfortable and productive.
Heating your workplace like this will send your energy bills soaring – and that isn’t good for your bottom line or your carbon footprint. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The good news is that there are many no and low-cost things you can do right now to stop winter putting a freeze on your business’s profits and environmental performance…
A really quick way to stay warmer for less this winter is to clear away all those files, boxes and laptop bags (and furniture if you can) that are piled up in front of your heaters. You don’t want to be spending a lot on your energy bill if the heat isn’t able to circulate effectively.
Once you’ve cleared the space around your heaters, this free downloadable poster is a good way to remind staff to keep the space clear.
Yes, that’s right, it’s winter and we’re suggesting turning your heating off earlier. And that’s because buildings store heat very effectively. In fact, most buildings stay warm for a long time after heating is switched off.
If you normally wait until closing time each day to switch off your heating, then energy and profits are being wasted – just to keep your premises warm when nobody is there. Good savings can be made by switching off your heating much earlier. And when done correctly, your staff shouldn’t even notice any change.
If you normally have staff thinly spread across your premises, why not try hot-desking (pardon the pun) and encourage staff to sit together?
This will make your building easier to heat (people generate heat). And it means you can switch off heating in areas that are unoccupied. Cha-ching.
How warm does it really need to be in your workplace? In offices, where people don’t tend to move around much, a relatively high temperature of between 18°C and 20°C is normally required (the minimum temperature suggested by the Health and Safety Executive is 16°C).
So, if your heating is set to more than 20°C, which is common in many businesses, it may be possible to turn it down without any objections from your colleagues. A 1°C reduction in set temperature is thought to save between 8% and 10% in heating costs.
Empty meeting rooms being heated because someone forgot to switch the heater off? Entire buildings being heated all weekend because someone changed the timer controls to ‘on’ and forgot to change them back again? These things are all too common – and a big waste of energy.
It pays to spend a little time talking to staff to make sure they know how to control your heating. Some businesses go a step further by training key members of staff and giving them sole responsibility for maintaining heating controls. If you want to do that too, this free poster will help.
One of the quickest and best ways to keep your heating costs down is to reduce the amount of heat being lost to the outside world – put simply, draught-proofing.
Draught-proofing products are relatively cheap to buy and can be used on the bottom of doors, around windows and chimneys, along skirtings and anywhere else you can feel a draught getting in. A draught getting in means heat is being driven out – and this is one of the biggest causes of heat loss in Scottish businesses.
And finally, if you have blinds or curtains fitted in your office, using them at night will reduce the amount of heat being lost through your windows, saving you energy and money.
As soon as it gets dark outside, close your blinds to keep the heat in. You might also want to encourage your night-time cleaners to double-check windows – and close any that are left open.
Heating is essential for Scottish businesses, particularly at this time of year. Good control of your heating will make sure your staff and customers are comfortable – and that’s good for business. But it can also be a big expense. If you follow the tips above, you will save your business money and reduce your environmental impact this winter. The effect on your energy bill could be astronomical (or should that be meteorological?).
If you’d like more energy-saving tips and bespoke advice to help your business make even greater savings, call our helpline on 0808 808 2268.