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How small changes can make big savings.

One positive to emerge from the recent recession is that it has forced all businesses, organisations and workplaces to explore where they can save money and in many cases this means looking at ways of reducing their carbon footprints.

Energy consumption is a major expense for nearly all organisations and making a few simple improvements can reap big rewards. Even small changes can have a big impact, but workplaces need 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.

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 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 of this is investing in cost savings - or spending money to save money. This could 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 lots of ways to reduce heat loss and save money. High quality door insulation, door closers and loading bay dock shelters can all boost heat retention.

It is also worth double-checking that heating timers do not come on 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

Tips to save energy in your workplace

  • Ensure temperatures are set at no more than 19°C in office areas, this will help maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Keep doors and windows closed while heating is on. Open doors and windows allow heated air to escape and cold air to come in, and so detrimentally affect the temperature balance.
  • Ensure radiators are not blocked with furniture, although heat rises this limits the heat available to the room.
  • Avoid heating unused spaces such as corridors and storerooms.
  • Make sure that changes in building occupation hours are updated within the controls. This includes shut down periods over bank holidays and Christmas or when the clocks change. Otherwise buildings may be heated during periods when they are unoccupied.
  • Switch off lights in empty rooms. Use daylight where possible, it’s free and more pleasant than artificial light.
  • Only use required lights. For example a teacher working alone in a classroom may only require the row of lights above her desk.
  • Don’t leave equipment on standby mode. Devices continue to use up to 70% of normal power consumption when not in use.
  • Ensure all staff buy-in to the energy saving process, signs, posters and other communication methods will help to reinforce the messages.

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