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Save energy and save money

Bridget Holmstrom - Sunday, January 18, 2015

Managing energy use can save money

Energy costs, particularly oil, may be falling in price but this is likely to be a temporary blip on an otherwise sharply upwards curve.  All business should be looking at opportunities to reduce consumption and therefore reduce costs.

The hospitality industry alone is responsible for energy expenditure of £1.3 billion and carbon emissions of more than 8 million tonnes per year, there is great opportunity and need to make significant savings. 

Before making any changes to operations or investing in energy saving devices is important to introduce some measuring and metering so that operations can see where energy is being consumed.  Energy measurement may include automated meters and sub-metering.  Without any means of accurate monitoring of energy consumption it will be impossible to gauge the success of any energy management initiatives.

Staff can make a vital contribution to reducing energy consumption and systems of training, education and rewards can help motivate employees to use energy with more care.  

Looking at low cost energy solutions such as those suggested by The Carbon Trust can make a significant impact.  Fore example, motion and sensory devices could reduce lighting costs by between 30% and 50%.  These are particularly valuable when considering lighting in areas not in use 24 hours a day such as offices, store rooms and corridors.  As a complimentary action to sensory devices, LED light bulbs use 80% less energy than normal lightbulbs.  As they become cheaper and more sophisticated business owners can expect to recover any monies invested in very short time.  They have both a longer life than standard bulbs and use much less energy.

There are other opportunities to reduce energy consumption and these include energy efficient equipment.  For example combi-ovens in restaurants can reduce energy consumption by more than 25%.  A more expensive option is to make adjustments to the building such as installing double glazing or insulating the walls.  It is estimated that the hospitality industry loses 2/3 of of heat through walls.  This is a significant cost to the business.

Businesses could also look at biomass boilers to reduce costs and carbon output.  However these are expensive and require significant storage for the fuel and are not always an appropriate solution.  As technologies improve and more providers come into the market biomass boilers may become more of an option.  Combined heat and power solutions which simultaneously generate electricity and heat are nearly twice as efficient as conventional heating systems.  Solar panels are also a possibility and the cost of installation and efficiency are improving rapidly.

Don't forget to see if there are any government initiatives such as the Feed-In Tariffs scheme, to see if there are any financial incentives to installing new equipment.  Although these are much reduced from their heyday prior to 2010.