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Summer saving: driving down costs for SMEs

Energy costs may be front of mind in winter months as thermostats are cranked up and lights shine brightly to counter gloomy weather and dark winter nights, but summer can also present plenty of simple opportunities to drive down energy bills.

Bright ideas

Lighting can account for up to 40% of an SME’s energy costs, making it a prime target for energy saving action.

Maximise the natural light available in your office and workspaces to reduce the need for artificial lighting. That could mean rearranging furniture to shift any large cabinets or shelves that block out the sunlight or, where possible, arranging desks to be closest to light spaces.

Irritating screen glare can often mean those seated closest to windows are forced to pull down blinds. Vertical or roller blinds often block out too much natural light, whereas horizontal blinds can direct light onto ceilings to avoid screen glare without having to light spaces with artificial light.

Replacing lighting with more energy efficient LED bulbs and occupancy sensors can also drive significant savings: LED lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs.

A chilled approach

Fridges and freezers can also guzzle more energy than needed. Improve the efficiency of freezers by defrosting them regularly, relocate units that are close to direct heat and check that temperature dials are set to appropriate levels to avoid using more energy than needed by chilling food to below recommended temperatures: every 1°C increase reduces energy use by 2%.

You can also avoid wasting energy by maximising space and only filling to around three quarters full: overfilling fridges will mean cool air can’t circulate as well and can increase running costs by up to 10%.

Finally, ensure that door seals on refrigerating equipment aren’t damaged, allowing cold air to escape or letting warm air in all mean that it costs more money to keep goods cool.

Keep your cool

Keeping employees cool and comfortable is important, but air conditioning can double a business’ energy bill so it’s an obvious target for energy efficiency. Ensure air conditioning is turned off outside of working hours to avoid cooling empty spaces, including meeting rooms when people leave (however, IT server rooms must be set at manufacturers’ recommended temperatures).

Leaving windows open when air conditioning means the cold air escapes: avoid throwing money out of the window by ensuring all employees understand that it’s either windows or AC, and never both!

Switch off

One of the most obvious energy saving tips is to switch off office equipment when not in use. In addition to reinforcing regular rules, such as switching off all communal equipment at the end of the day, ensure staff turn off their PCs and monitors (particularly before heading off to sunnier climes during the holiday season!) – a single monitor and PC left on 24 hours a day can cost around £45 a year. Installing timers or reminders to switch off vending machines with non-perishable items and water coolers outside of working hours will also reduce costs – and turning off printers and photocopiers can reduce costs by up to 75%.

Shop around

Simple energy saving measures can make a big difference, but one of the best ways to lock in lower costs is to shop around for a better supply deal. Check your contract end date: some suppliers roll small businesses onto their ‘default’ tariff, which can increase bills by up to 50%.

Inenco’s small business experts can help to find a deal that works best for your business, with a full view of the market to find the lowest rates to meet your needs. To discuss your energy contract or for more advice on driving down costs this summer, speak to one of the team on 0800 408 1499 or email us for more information.