In May 2022, the Prince of Wales laid out plans to prioritise “cheaper, cleaner and secure” energy in an effort to meet and exceed Net-Zero 2050 goals. Following last year’s COP26 Summit in Glasgow, it looks like all arrows are pointing towards supporting not just more sustainable energy sources, but also the most affordable ones.
The UK government’s Energy Security Strategy is aiming for 95% of electricity to come from low carbon sources by 2030. However, with an increased focus on energy sources, we risk overlooking one of the core issues: the need for a reduction in energy consumption, and therefore, costs.
There is, of course, a significant benefit to finding cheaper sources of energy, but equipping organisations with the knowledge they need to actually make tangible and long-lasting changes. So, while the government’s initiatives to find cheaper energy sources are a step in the right direction, the fact remains that the best way to save energy (and money) is to use less.
With that in mind, here are some of the ways in which you can reduce your business’s energy consumption – it all starts with awareness and action.
Carry out an energy audit
The first step of any successful net-zero strategy is to carry out an audit on your current energy usage. It’s best to instruct an independent energy consultant to do this, as they will have an impartial stance alongside a wealth of experience working with other organisations like yours. This is one area in which we at Integral Energy can help, find out more about our energy consultancy services.
At Integral, our consultants aren’t just energy efficiency experts, but we are also highly experienced finance professionals. So, we know how your energy usage can impact the bottom line and cash flow.
An energy audit will look at your usage across all areas of the business, including gas and electricity in commercial spaces and even fuel used by those travelling for work. While a professional will be able to advise on the specifics of your audit, the goal of any audit is to lay the foundation for your energy-saving strategy.
The source of your energy may be part of this audit, but the priority here is to identify areas in which energy is actively lost or wasted, and help support systemic, behavioural change in your organisation.
Energy auditing may seem like just another thing to add to your never-ending to-do list, but this is actually one of the best ways to identify savings and, as a result, spark immediate savings for your business. Your very survival as a business may now depend on it.
Once you have identified the key ways in which you can save, it’s time to educate your staff to carry out your strategy. This could be something as simple as ensuring lights are turned off at the end of the day or encouraging employees to turn off devices at night before they go home.
If you operate a business with a fleet of vehicles, make sure your drivers know where to get the cheapest and most efficient fuel. You could even invest in hybrid or electric vehicles to reduce the impact – there are several subsidised schemes that make electric vehicle ownership more accessible for business customers.
As an industrial business, the opportunities for savings can be even greater.
Is your air compressor optimally sized, have you repaired air leaks and re-routed air lines away from redundant areas of the factory, do you use high efficiency motors or have you considered the retrofit of variable speed drives?
Does heat escape from the premises via openings in building fabric, are heating units located near open roller doors, how about fitting timers, sensors and other controls around your existing equipment?
There is always a significant opportunity for savings, and often this comes from some of the simplest means and with a little effort, we can help you to make it happen.
Office and administrative staff may have become used to working from home throughout the pandemic and, if they are happy to continue to do so, a flexible working arrangement may help boost morale and reduce energy costs at the same time. You won’t need the same amount of office space, nor will you need to spend anywhere near as much on heating bills or air conditioning.
Whatever your business structure, there will always be ways to save. Some of the biggest savings will come from the smallest changes, as their impact will mount up over time.
Ensure ESOS and SECR compliance
We’ve explored the changes to your day-to-day operations, but what about compliance? If your business is of a certain size then you will need to carry out and submit one or a number of reports alongside your financial accounts.
ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme)
You will need to submit a mandatory energy assessment under ESOS if your business has more than 250 employees or an annual turnover exceeding €50m and a balance sheet exceeding €43m.
To find out more about ESOS compliance and reporting, take a look at our dedicated ESOS page or read our recent blog post about ESOS Phase 3. Alternatively, get in touch to book your assessment with our expert team.
SECR (Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting)
Like ESOS, companies must meet certain criteria in order to meet the requirements for an SECR report. You will need SECR if your business meets at least 2 of the following requirements:
- More than 250 employees
- An annual turnover exceeding £36m
- A balance sheet exceeding £18m
Both ESOS and SECR are legal requirements and, therefore, it’s important to know whether you need to adhere to these requirements. It’s also vital that you appoint an expert to carry out the reports as both are relatively complex and must follow a clear structure.
If you require either ESOS, SECR or both, speak to Integral Energy today.
In conclusion, it’s great to see universal efforts geared towards energy sourcing, but the fact remains: without a clear energy consumption reduction strategy in place, you will likely miss out on some of the biggest savings. Remember, the cheapest unit of energy is the one you don’t use.