Evidence shows that businesses can generate significant savings simply by adopting energy efficiency measures and making behavioural changes, and with energy costs currently being one of the most substantial expenses to businesses, implementing the right energy-saving procedures and making the right investments should be a priority.
Simon Concar, Managing Director of adi Electrical, a division of multi-disciplinary UK engineering firm adi Group, provides insight into the main ways businesses can cut energy-related costs.
Previously, there was no denying that recouping solar panel investments took some time. However, new evidence suggests that following last year’s price cap rise, owners can now expect solar panels to pay for themselves five years faster, a drastic improvement from previous figures.
The price of solar panels has also dropped by 88 per cent since 2010, becoming a much more affordable solution. And it’s not just solar panels that have proven to be effective in lowering energy costs – solar hot water systems can cause water heating bills to drop by 50-80 per cent, helping owners save money in the long run by allowing them to generate heat without the need for fuel or electricity while also lowering harmful CO2 emissions.
Research shows that a switch to LED lighting, which makes use of highly energy-efficient technology, could help businesses lower electricity bills to a considerable extent. LEDs last much longer than traditional halogen bulbs cost less to maintain, and are 10 times more efficient, meaning they provide a significant return on investment.
Making simple adjustments such as switching to sensor lights in areas where continuous lighting is not required, installing timer switches to minimise reliance on people, as well as harnessing the power of natural lighting as much as possible represent other low-budget and undemanding yet effective solutions.
Building energy management systems (BEMS)
BEMS monitor the energy performance of buildings via a single central platform, allowing for full control over lighting and power systems as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
From comparing daily profiles and hourly energy use to identifying energy spikes, BEMS can help owners discover trends and pinpoint opportunities to reduce unnecessary usage. Depending on their design, BEMS can save their owners between 13-66 per cent on energy costs.
With 35 per cent of heat escaping through window or door gaps and uninsulated walls, improving a building’s insulation is a widely known ‘quick fix’ to prevent heat loss and save costs, though others have started to look at generating extra value in the long term with larger investments.
Heat pumps have become progressively more popular for businesses in recent years due to their ability to heat buildings efficiently while keeping costs down, commercial heat pumps are estimated to save business owners around £3,000 per year, and as these systems’ technology advances, these figures are only likely to increase.
Amongst now ever-present sustainability concerns, heat pumps also provide an efficient alternative to relying on fossil fuels, playing a vital role in reducing carbon emissions.
Electrical systems optimisation
It’s not always necessary to invest in new equipment to replace older systems, however, manufacturers are now turning their attention to the benefits of creating a circular economy, with an increased focus on retrofitting and recycling.
When it comes to electrical systems, extending their lifecycle and productivity as a priority can go a long way in keeping costs down and eliminating the need to replace entire systems.