Unless you enjoy slaving away at a manual typewriter with only the glow of a candle for light and warmth, energy bills are a necessity for all businesses, regardless of their size. But there are lots of ways to save energy in the office, which is good news for the environment and the bottom line.
Commercial buildings are generally a lot more complicated than a home. At home, it’s reasonably easy to work out what energy goes where - especially if you have a smart energy meter and an in home display. But in a commercial building, all kinds of weird energy-wasting stuff can be going on without you ever knowing about it. It might sound silly, but knowing what’s going on in your building is really the first step.
It’s a very tired old saying, but it’s so true with energy - “you can only manage what you measure”. Installing an energy data management system (EDMS) is really the first step in saving energy in a commercial building. The point is to install and monitor sensors (called sub meters) in your building to better understand how and where your energy is going in any second, minute, hour of the day. Install sub meters on all your big energy users, especially the air conditioning, boilers, and the server room and expect to pay £300 - 500 per sub meter installed. Your chosen provider should give you good guidance on how much you need. There are loads of energy data management systems on the market so definitely shop around. Also check whether your energy supplier offers smart meters. These can be integrated into most EDMS as well. Once installed, your EDMS should reveal all sorts of energy wasting activity in your building. Some vendors claim savings of 24% by just understanding their building’s energy better and making small building tuning and maintenance measures. Whilst the data is a bit vague, we think many companies will save at least 10%.
A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost over £50 a year, so switch it off when you leave the office. And don’t just leave it on standby – this type of ‘vampire power’ is an energy sucker, too! Same goes for printers, water coolers, projectors, TVs etc. A night audit of your building will quickly reveal things being left on or controlled badly. Look out for under-desk heaters too. They are monstrously inefficient and will be causing all sorts of knock-on energy problems with your aircon.
Turning lights off in areas that aren’t being used is one of the quickest and easiest ways to save electricity in an office. Rely on natural light as much as possible and only have lights on in meeting rooms and corridors when they’re being used. Installing motion sensors (that detect movement) or infrared sensors (that detect body heat) can deliver great paybacks too. You’d be surprised by how many meeting rooms, bathrooms and cleaner cupboards have their lights left on 24/7.
Swapping out old inefficient light bulbs with newer, energy saving bulbs will make a big difference, too. This is especially the case if you have old fluorescent lighting or downlights. Because there’s so many different lighting types and been so much recent innovation in lighting technology, we’d highly recommend getting a lighting expert in to check out your options.
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning, or “HVAC” for short, will most likely be the biggest energy consumer in your office. It’s super important to get it right too because the productivity of a business will depend on how comfortable the indoor environment is. HVAC is obviously less viable than lighting too so money might be vanishing into thin air (quite literally!) without you knowing about it. Many offices, big and small, will likely be able to make huge savings.
Start by checking the temperature set points (21 degree celsius is perfect) and ensuring your HVAC is turning on and off at the right times. These tend to 'creep' over time. If you’re building is large enough to have a building management system (BMS), definitely get a professional controls expert to tune it for energy efficiency.
An energy auditor will help you to reveal the bigger ticket items like improving building insulation, equipment upgrade and wholesale system changes. These sometimes have very fast payback, especially if you’re replacing old or broken equipment anyway.
If your business has a server room, like most do these days, there’s a high chance it’s behaving like a mooching teenager - sitting around doing nothing much and wasting all your money. Studies by Mckinsey Co. and Gartner have revealed that data servers on average are only working 6 - 12% of the time and waste up to 90% of their energy. Get your IT department to work out how much of your server room is really necessary. We’d suggest they explore what can be moved to 'the cloud' (i.e. to a secure third party like Amazon, Microsoft or Google), what can be 'virtualized' (where servers are created in software rather than hardware) and what can be consolidated to only what you really need.
Most companies have fire wardens on each floor, so why not introduce Green Champions as well? Ask one person to carry out regular checks on energy habits within the business and produce an informal report on progress – then try to improve on it.
Most new employees are given some kind of guidance when they start at a new company, whether it be a handbook or simply terms of employment. Build energy awareness into these documents so staff are up to speed with the company’s drive to save energy in the office.
A lot of energy saving technologies, such as sensors, timers and low-energy equipment, come with tax breaks. Look into the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme to find out how much you could claim, and remember that this will be on top of long term energy bill savings.
Employees are far more likely to play by the ‘rules’ if they see that they apply to everyone, so if you’re in a position of seniority, make sure you lead by example. Get those that are higher up interested in energy efficiency too, by explaining its many benefits.
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OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.