Energy efficiency – simple tricks to cut energy costs - Veterinary Practice
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Energy efficiency – simple tricks to cut energy costs

Finding the right strategy to manage your utility costs and taking some very simple steps can prevent commercial energy costs from draining your time and resources

The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeon (SPVS) logo

It has been a tough 10 months for the world of commercial energy – you only have to turn on the TV to hear it making the headlines. Unit rates of electricity have, in some cases, doubled from where they were this time last year.

We have had a perfect storm of events that have led us to where we are today:

  • The gas pipeline into the UK was closed due to maintenance
  • There was an explosion at a Kent-based substation which provides us with electricity from France
  • Last year’s low wind and poor summer sun conditions meant our green and renewable resources were depleted
  • And let us not forget Russia invading Ukraine, which brought a whole new panic to the energy market and affected the wholesale cost of gas and electricity on top of other humanitarian crises

But what does this mean for you, the business owner? In a nutshell, it means you will see a large increase in your utility costs and, in some cases, it will be the making or breaking of your business. But there are always options!

Just taking a regular meter reading and submitting it could save you some money in the short term. Suppliers often bill on estimated readings and then charge accordingly, so make sure you only pay for what you use! It also goes without saying, but make sure you turn off any appliances you don’t really need, as some appliances that may not be operational can still drain power from the grid.

This article aims to provide you with some useful tips and advice to get ahead of the energy curve.

Conduct your own energy audit

You need to take ownership of your energy usage.

It’s worth carrying out an energy audit to assess where you use the most energy in your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot the areas where you’re potentially wasting energy – and money – so you can make changes.

By assessing how much energy is used, when it’s being used and why, you can make a plan for change

You should take stock of your workplace at different times throughout the day to get an idea of when and where your business uses the most energy.

For example, can you spot any trends or spikes in energy usage? If you have a smart meter, you might notice that you’re using more energy overnight than during the day. You could be wasting energy by leaving computers on standby or heating an empty office unnecessarily.

By assessing how much energy is used, when it’s being used and why, you can make a plan for change.

Organisations such as The Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust offer advice on how your business can use energy more efficiently.

Keep an eye on your appliances!

Do you have appliances that could be switched off for longer or equipment that doesn’t need to be on 24/7?

Appliances such as computers can use energy even when they’re on standby. So, if you leave your laptop or desktop computer on overnight when you’re not using it, you’re wasting electricity.

The Carbon Trust estimates that by turning computers off at night and at weekends, you could cut the amount of energy these devices use by 75 percent per year (Carbon Trust, 2012), which could have a positive impact on your business’s energy bill.

Printers, TV monitors and even appliances such as microwaves in your work kitchen also use energy in the background when they’re switched on but not in use. You could save even more money by turning these off at the electric socket when you’ve finished using them.

If you operate from a warehouse rather than an office, the same principles apply.

Energy-efficient appliances

The energy efficiency of your appliances has an impact on how much energy they use and, as a result, how much energy your business has to pay for.

It might be more cost effective to upgrade a piece of older equipment, which in the long term will save you energy. If you can’t afford to replace your appliances, it’s still important to have them regularly cleaned, checked and maintained.

Also, make sure they are serviced from time to time. Regular maintenance can help ensure your devices work correctly and are as efficient as possible, keeping your costs down.

Save energy as a team

Saving energy in the workplace is a team effort. If you have employees, get them involved in the little nudges that can save your business money. Assign an energy champion, for example, to keep an eye on day-to-day energy usage.

Saving energy in the workplace is a team effort. If you have employees, get them involved in the little nudges that can save your business money

You may want to send weekly emails to staff about what they can do to help or ask for their suggestions on how to improve energy efficiency in the workplace.

Check your lighting!

Make sure you turn lights off when you’re not using a room and especially when leaving your workplace for an extended period of time (such as overnight or during a holiday period).

According to EDF Energy, lighting a workspace can account for up to 40 percent of your business energy bill, so it’s important to ensure your lighting set-up is energy-efficient (EDF, 2023).

When it comes to replacing light bulbs, it’s worth making sure you buy energy-efficient options such as LEDs, which last longer and cost less to maintain than traditional bulbs. You may also be able to use lower-watt bulbs or fit more energy-efficient light fixtures to further reduce the electricity needed to light your workspace.

Building management systems (BMS)

Installing motion sensors so lights only turn on when someone is in the room is another simple way to save on your energy use. If that isn’t an option for your business right now, make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room. You may find that sticking a note by the light switch helps everyone remember to do this.

Installing motion sensors so lights only turn on when someone is in the room is another simple way to save on your energy use

Final thoughts

If you are doing all the above and are looking for more to do to get on top of your utility spend then speak to a consultant.

Energy consultants from the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, for example, have been helping clients across the UK manage their utilities. In some cases, they have managed to get money back from suppliers that have overcharged. Energy consultants have a track record of helping businesses reduce the hassle and stress that can be associated with their utilities which is especially crucial in this current, uncertain climate we are faced with.

Members of SVPS can get free advice and no obligation quotes for energy consultations.

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