How to conduct your own energy audit: think like your grandma
We all know an energy audit is a great way to save money in your business… but what does it involve, and where do you start?
We’ve put together a few easy-to-execute, common sense tips on how to conduct your own energy audit. It can help you cut your business energy use and do good things for your bank balance.
What is an energy audit?
A formal energy audit involves a full assessment of a building’s energy use, usually by a qualified energy assessor. It looks at things like your insulation, your lighting, your heating and air conditioning, and can be very technical.
Not many businesses need to take such an in-depth look at the way they’re using energy, but there are plenty of things you can do to become more energy efficient and save money.
And a lot of it means thinking like your grandma…
Grandma’s guide to energy efficiency
Let’s be honest: when it comes to energy efficiency, you just have to use your common sense.
● Something is switched on, turn it off.
● You’re not in the building, turn off the heating.
● The window is draughty, block up the draughts.
See what we mean? Individually, these changes are quite small… but when you put them all together, it adds up to a big saving.
As you carry out your DIY energy audit, think about two different things: the changes you can make immediately and projects for the future. What can you do today to start saving energy?
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty…
Check your lighting
In a formal energy audit, lighting upgrades often provide the biggest opportunity for future savings. Lighting is a great starting point in any DIY audit, as you can make quick changes that will start saving you money right away.
1. Are you taking advantage of natural light?
A lot of businesses turn on their office lights out of habit – even in the summer. If you have enough natural light coming into the building, you probably don’t need to turn on the lights. Try turning them off – you’ll probably find there’s no difference.
2. Do you turn your lights off?
It’s amazing how many businesses forget to turn off their lights. If your lighting doesn’t operate on a timer, make sure you manually turn off lights at the end of the day.
3. Are you using lights for no reason?
We’ve all seen them: shop windows lit up late at night when there’s nobody around. What’s the point? The same goes for lighting in car parks. If you’re not running a night shift, you don’t need lighting in the car park. It’s costing you money, so don’t do it.
Equipment and appliances
Changing the way we use our equipment and appliances can be difficult – but it isn’t impossible! As with lighting, a lot of this comes down to breaking some old habits. As part of your DIY energy audit, look at things like printers, computers, and vending machines.
1. Is everything switched off at the end of the day?
Make sure everything that can be switched off is switched off and unplugged. Unplugging appliances like kettles and printers is the only way to ensure that they aren’t using electricity at all. Switching off vending machines overnight is also a great way to save money.
2. Has anything been left on standby?
Leaving things on standby isn’t the same as switching them off. Don’t forget to switch the television off at the mains (and unplug it!).
3. Do you use screensavers?
A lot of people will use a screensaver on their laptop or PC when it falls idle because they believe it saves energy, but they’re actually a big energy waster. Most screensavers use the same amount of energy as normal use – switch off the screen if you aren’t using it.
4. When was your equipment last serviced?
It’s easy to treat servicing requirements as pointless red tape, but actually regular servicing can keep your equipment running at peak efficiency – and that includes energy efficiency. Whether it’s your boiler or your aircon unit, keep it running in tip top shape with regular checks.
This is where the real grandma thinking kicks in. It’s all about minimising draughts, maximising light, and maintaining a consistent temperature in your buildings. All of this helps your heating systems run more efficiently and cost effectively.
1. Close the door and keep the warm in
Are your doors open? We all know that closing doors keeps rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so why do so many of us forget to close them? To heat your buildings more efficiently in the winter, keep your doors closed – especially if you’re in retail. The same rule applies in the summer, especially if you have air conditioning. An open door will send your aircon unit into overdrive!
2. Do the dusting
When did you last clean? It’s boring, but it’s true: clean light fittings shine brighter than dusty light fittings, and clean windows let in more light than dirty ones. Keep things clean and bright.
3. Use a draught excluder
Are your windows and doors letting in a chill? You can do a lot worse than use a draught excluder under your doors (in Australia, they’re also used to keep out venomous snakes!). And if you don’t have double-glazing, try a temporary double-glazing film through the winter – it can make a big difference to the temperature in your room.
4. Don’t block your radiators
Are your radiators behind a sofa or a filing cabinet? Keep the space around your radiators clear so that they can easily heat the room (instead of turning up your thermostat).
When you carry out a project like this, you’ll probably start thinking about some other areas for improvement – projects that you’d love to carry out but can’t quite manage right now. Here are some common long-term projects to think about as you carry out your energy audit:
1. Timers and motion sensors for your lighting
Your boiler is probably already running on a timer (if not, why not?), but did you know that you can set timers for your lights, too? If you’re running a shop on a high street, it’s a good way to keep your window lit through the early evening and switch off at night when there’s nobody around. Motion sensors are great, too – fit them in bathrooms, corridors and other public areas so that these rooms are only lit when they’re being used.
2. Tamper-proof thermostats
We all know somebody in the office who likes to mess with the thermostat! It might seem harmless, but constantly turning the heating up or down won’t be doing much for your bills. Fit a tamper proof thermostat and keep the temperature set between 19-21 degrees – the best temperature for offices.
3. Buy energy efficient appliances and equipment
These days, most appliances and equipment carry an energy efficiency rating – and they really are accurate. If you want the most long-term cost-effective kettle for your staff kitchen, buy the A-rated kettle.
4. Move your radiators
If your radiators are obstructed or positioned under windows, it’s worth thinking about moving them to a different spot in the room. This can be costly work, but it’s worth doing for your long-term energy efficiency and savings. A radiator under a window has to work harder to heat up the room – and that means you’ll be cranking that thermostat up higher and higher until it reaches a comfortable temperature. That’s a cost you can avoid.
5. Check your insulation
Is your building insulated? If not, this is definitely a long-term project to think about. If you’ve ever had your home insulated, you know what a difference it can make to your energy bills. Why not do the same for your business?
Using energy more efficiently can have a big bottom line impact on your business. As grandma always says, a penny saved is a penny earned. In fact, the Carbon Trust estimates that reducing your energy costs by 20% can have the same impact on your business as a 5% increase in sales.
With numbers like that at stake, why wouldn’t you try to reduce your energy costs?
And when you combine it with the savings you can find using troo’s unique business energy comparison tool, cheap business energy and some major savings are within your grasp.
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