But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to lessen the impact. One way to lower any potential spike is by focussing your efforts on making your business energy efficient.
An energy-efficient office can save as much as 65% on its business energy bills. The trouble is, no matter the sector or building you operate in, there are a number of common habits that trip businesses up over winter. Below we take a closer look at 4 ways your business can avoid these bad winter habits.
1: Bad office lighting
A well-lit working environment is a basic necessity for productivity as well as health and safety. But during winter it’s easy for bad lighting practices to creep in. The most common issue is leaving lights on unnecessarily, which is especially true in open-plan offices where lights often remain on for longer than they’re actually needed.
So, what can you do about bad office lighting?
Simple steps like fitting energy-efficient light bulbs, labelling light switches and encouraging staff to turn lights off when they’re not needed, can all help increase energy efficiency and minimise waste in the short term. After that, useful low-cost gadgets like movement detectors, time switches and daylight sensors are worthwhile investments that take the onus off your staff and ensure lighting is working efficiently at all times.
In the longer term, you might want to replace any old lighting with technology that’s more energy efficient. Installing the right office lights can reduce your lighting costs by up to 80%. And LED lights, for example, could reduce energy wastage through heat from 95% to just 5%.
Heating systems have the biggest impact on your business energy bills and overall efficiency, especially over winter. However, problems can arise from all sorts of areas. Incorrectly placed thermostats, competing heaters and air conditioning units, and even the use of portable heaters and open windows, all create inefficiencies that add to business energy bills unnecessarily.
So, what can you do about your business overheating?
A good first step you can action right away is a walk around the premises checking for things like drafts, open windows, and thermostats placed where heat fluctuates like near a doorway or machinery. Raising the temperature by just 1°C can increase your heating costs by approximately 8%, so it’s important to make sure you’re not overheating areas that are hardly used.
It’s also worth speaking to staff and asking whether any areas get too hot or cold, and then investigating the problem. If sorted, employees are less likely to change the thermostat themselves, open windows or bring portable heaters into work.
3: Lack of staff awareness or engagement
Business energy efficiency is most successful when your employees are on board. However, lack of staff awareness, engagement or both can all lead to bad habits and inefficient practices. Over time and especially over winter, this can soon add up.
So, what can you do about it?
You can create an energy-efficient culture by empowering your staff in lots of different ways. Raising awareness about how energy is being used, including where improvements and savings can be made, can be a powerful start. As can putting on workshops and training on energy efficiency best practices, with staff input at all times.
Many companies have also had success with an internal campaign (such as “Healthier Planet, Healthier People” for the NHS). But arguably the most important factor is making sure leaders are on board, and then any new business energy efficiency processes and policies are upheld and monitored day-to-day by energy champions you’ve appointed on the ground.
4: Not knowing what to expect
The most important step to saving energy is managing it. But how can you better manage what you can’t measure? Without knowing how much energy your business consumes (and when) it’s impossible to see what looks high, what looks normal, and where the energy-saving opportunities are for your business.
So, what can you do about it?
The first thing you can do to better manage your business energy is setting up and regularly using your online account. There you can take control of your business energy by viewing winter bills and submitting meter readings to make sure they’re accurate. You can also check and review historical bills from last winter so you’ll know what to expect this time around.
The second thing you can do is to request access to your smart meter data. You’ll then be able to view and download historical data for the previous year (including last winter) from Energy360 DataView. This is an energy monitoring platform for existing business energy customers designed to give greater control over your business energy use. You can also get daily updates to see changes as they happen and see graphs and reports to find ways to save over the energy-intensive months to come.
Request a smart meter so you can start tracking your business energy use
The final thing you can do to manage any potential energy usage spikes and subsequent costs is setting up a Direct Debit. This enables you to spread the cost of your business energy bills and budget more effectively.
Set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost of your energy this winter