Happy new year! Let’s hope 2021 is a brighter year filled with less uncertainty.
Whatever happens though, there’s good news for those of us who work in the energy management arena.
As an essential overhead – and a precious resource – we can take positive action to cut energy costs, while at the same time having a positive environmental impact.
With net zero now firmly on the horizon, cutting carbon emissions is already on the agenda for many businesses.
But even if you’ve not yet got a clear plan, taking steps to manage energy more effectively will help you to minimise waste, cut costs and start reducing emissions right now.
Six steps to increase efficiency and reduce costs
It’s likely you’re already following at least some of these steps already. But when implemented all together as part of a wider energy management strategy, their impact can be synergistic.
- Review your purchasing strategy
I don’t need to tell you what a volatile year 2020 was for the energy market. While the commodity price fell overall, many of the non-commodity elements such as network and balancing services charges (which all together, can account for up to 60% of your invoice) increased.
So now’s a good time to review how you buy energy and which non-commodity charges are fixed or pass-through on your invoice. You may also be interested to look at options for green energy to reduce your business’s carbon footprint.
If your contract allows, moving to flexible purchasing may also be worth considering to take advantage of market opportunities. We offer services such as Direct Budget Management to make this process straightforward and easy to manage, so speak to your Account Manager or Client Lead for more information.
- Measure every kilowatt you use
The old adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is especially applicable here. So, if you need to, start by upgrading any old traditional Non-Half-Hourly meters to ensure you can access accurate timely consumption data.
As the name suggests, Automated Meter Reading (AMR) models will provide automatic meter reads so you can keep better tabs on what you’re using, and your invoices will be based on actual rather than estimated consumption data.
For energy-intensive activities, you can really get to grips with your data by installing sub-metering in different areas. For example, to monitor office versus warehouse use, or for specific operations.
- Analyse your data
Linking all your Half-Hourly, AMR and sub-metering consumption information to an energy management system can make your data meaningful. Then you can look for patterns over the day, set targets and alarms, and compare sites to identify anomalies and areas of possible waste. This will help you plan how best to make savings.
- Start taking action
Data analysis will equip you with useful information to see where to make quick wins – for example, ensuring heating/cooling matches occupancy times, or lighting and equipment are turned off when your site is vacant.
The next stage is drilling down to look at all your energy-consuming equipment and processes – and assessing how energy efficient they are. An energy audit will give you some real insight into where you can make a difference with new approaches and technologies. For example, installing motion-sensing lighting and swapping to LED bulbs, or upgrading an old boiler or cooling system.
- Get everyone on board
Your staff are key to saving energy and cutting carbon emissions. Encouraging input and ownership will help increase the positive impact staff behaviour can have on your bottom line, for example by running an awareness campaign or appointing an Energy Champion at each site.
It’s also possible to achieve around 10% overall savings by implementing tailor-made energy-saving interventions based on the specific mindset and motivations of individual teams. This could be making energy use visible via real-time displays, or implementing a structured ‘stop/start’ management system for energy-intensive processes.
To find out more, read our free Carbon Psychology report.
- Tap into outside expertise
There are many other energy and carbon-saving actions you can take – from investing in on-site generation to committing to a process of continuous improvement via approaches such as ISO 500001 accreditation.
What would deliver the most benefit – and when – depends on your individual business circumstances. So consider getting some expert help to help you determine the right strategy. Our team would be happy to help, so speak to your Account Manager or Client Lead (existing customers) to find out what’s on offer. Or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you buy your energy via a consultant or broker, talk to them to understand how they can help you better measure, monitor and manage your energy.