Coronavirus has impacted everybody’s routine and, while businesses may not yet be able to throw open their doors to welcome everyone back, a slow return to work is an indication that life is beginning to resume some normality after the lockdown.
In addition to health and safety considerations on your return to the workplace, now is also a time to be thinking about your energy use and taking simple steps to ensure you don’t waste energy and incur needlessly high energy bills.
Spending a little time now to look at how you are using energy, and how your business’s ‘new normal’ is going to affect that, may even help you reduce your energy spend. After all, there is little to be gained by heating, cooling and lighting your premises as youwere doing pre-lockdown if you areworking reduced hours or if some staff are continuing to work from home.
If your business’s working hours have changed, don’t fall into the trap of wasting energy and money by heating your premises when there is now no one on site – either in the morning before anyone arrives, or at night when everyone has left for the day.
Ask yourself if your heating and cooling system’s timer controls are in line with your new operating hours. If they’re not, it’s time to adjust them.
Correct timer controls will ensure that your heating system switches on early enough in the morning to provide the desired temperature for staff and customers when they arrive – without switching on too early and wasting energy. Correct timer controls will also mean that your system switches off at a time that will ensure desired temperatures are maintained long enough, without heating your premises after everyone has left.
If your business is going to be working new shift patterns that require your premises to be open longer each day to accommodate more shifts, you can expect to be paying bigger bills post-lockdown. If that’s the case, it’s even more important that you get in control of your heating and cooling so that costs don’t rack up needlessly. And you should look at the age of your heating and cooling system too, to see if the increased demands make it beneficial to upgrade to a more energy efficient system – our team is here to help you investigate that with free assessments, and access to interest-free loans if it’s time to upgrade.
As well as changing your timer controls, if you’re not using all the same space you were previously, you might be able to save even more energy by turning off heating and cooling in the unused areas. There is little to be gained by heating an empty room so don’t forget to adjust your thermostatic valves or zone controls if you can.
Heating costs can burn up more than half your energy bill so even small changes can make a big difference.
Start thinking about controlling your lighting. Do you turn on all your lights out of habit? Have your lighting requirements changed as fewer areas of your premises are used?
Perhaps your staff don’t know which light switch is for which area. Consider labelling the switches so everyone knows which lights to turn on and which to leave off.
The other low cost techniques that can achieve significant savings include engaging with staff to improve habits and making the most of natural light.
More further helpful information on this can be found in our lighting guide here.
Remember, in public and commercial buildings, lighting can account for more than 20% of the total energy bill. In gas-heated offices, lighting costs can be more than 50% of the electricity use.
Measuring and monitoring energy use is important when changing work patterns and routines can lead to inefficient practices being adopted. Keeping a close eye on your energy use, ideally using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help ensure you develop the most energy efficient ways of running your business. Ultimately, you should be aiming to see reduced working hours, space requirements or business outputs reflected in your business’s energy costs.
If you would like more detailed recommendations on specific things your business could do to save energy and money, remember that Zero Waste Scotland’s team of Energy Efficiency Business Advisors is here to help. We provide free support to Scottish small and medium-sized businesses and access to interest-free loans to fund the implementation of energy saving projects.
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