Commercial buildings can tackle rising energy bills as the mercury falls

Workplace equipment supplier Slingsby, which supplies more than 35,000 workplace products across all industries, always experiences a surge of sales of products to improve efficiency at this time of year. The company also believes the recession has played a big role in encouraging nearly all businesses and organisations to continually explore where they can make cost savings.

Lee Wright, marketing director at Slingsby, says, ‘Energy consumption is a major expense for most workplaces and at this time of year the majority will see their heating and lighting costs soar. Even though wholesale energy prices have fallen recently the savings to end-users are negligible and in the longer term, it is generally accepted that prices will increase so it makes sense for workplaces to regularly look at ways of reducing their energy consumption.

‘It’s always an advantage if workplaces can get a firm grasp of their energy consumption, using invoices, meter readings and other contractor information, in order to identify where to focus their efforts. Often it makes sense to appoint an “energy champion” who is responsible for this as part of their job role and they should be able to evaluate and assess this information in order to quantify savings and justify any future investment.’

Lee continues, ‘Even very simple changes can reap big rewards when it comes to energy bills. In today’s technological reliant world most workplaces have an endless stream of IT equipment, telephone systems and television screens all draining electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year unless they are switched off when they are not in use. At the bottom end of the spectrum, just encouraging employees to turn these things off when they are not in use, and using strategically placed signage to act as a reminder, will make a difference.

‘The next stage is investing in cost savings – or spending money to save money. This might mean fitting motion sensors to lights or installing ambient light detection systems, that adjust lighting levels depending on the amount of natural light. Heating is another significant expense but again there are many ways to reduce heat loss and save money. High quality door insulation, door closers and loading bay dock shelters can all significantly boost heat retention. 

‘It is also worth double checking that heating timers do not come at times when there is nobody in the building. However, this can still be pointless unless boilers and air conditioning systems are well maintained and working efficiently.’

Slingsby has compiled a list of tips that the organisation uses across its own premises that have helped to significantly reduce the company’s energy consumption:

  • Adding infrared sensors to lighting systems in areas that don’t always need to be illuminated is cost effective and means that lights are only on when people are around.
  • This can be enhanced further with an ambient light detection system to dim or brighten the lights depending on how much natural light there is.
  • Every member of the team should turn off lights and other electrical equipment when it’s not in use and if necessary introduce incentives to encourage people to participate.
  • Make sure that computer equipment is in ‘efficiency’ mode and turned off every night.
  • Think carefully about heating usage and turn it down in areas that are already warm.
  • Ideally every workplace should have an ‘energy champion’ who is responsible for reducing energy consumption as part of their job role.
  • Simply cleaning windows can flood a building with natural light or else fitting a blind can help to retain heat.
  • In some premises it may be possible to use space more efficiently by removing spare desks, partitioning off unused space and rearranging work areas to improve and reduce the amount of space required.

 

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