How to save on energy bills this winter?
France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and England have all implemented measures to reduce the amount of energy being used by corporates and public organisations. These include recommending that all doors to be closed to avoid losing heat in buildings; external lights turned off from 10pm; internal temperatures to be set to 19 degrees; no heating in communal corridors; start the heating one hour later in all areas. This blog aims to help when it comes to taking immediate action to reduce your energy bills this winter. Medium to long term measures to take include sourcing funding to help with upgrades and renovations to improve your buildings insultation and energy efficiency. But, as we battle with soaring bills right now, and await the Budget, let’s look at ways to cut usage and reduce costs immediately.
10 immediate steps to take:
- Your employees are your best allies Embarking on an efficiency-first plan can cut your bill by up to 30%. It will start with your staff. Hold a briefing session for all employees on the importance of reducing usage anywhere and everywhere in the building. Ask for ideas and gather insights from them – they know how things operate better than you. There are free courses on offer to businesses. Identify a team member who would enjoy this task.
- SEAI Energy Academy
- SEAI Introduction to Energy Management – Creating an Energy Action Plan – dates Sept 13th, Oct 19th, Nov 28th.
- SEAI Grant for an energy audit
Heating Are you heating areas that are unoccupied, or also have a window or door open? It’s costing you a small fortune. Seal up drafts to keep heat in because every time you turn the heating up by 1 degree, you add 8% to your bill.
Vampire energy This is the energy that is used when everything is on ‘stand by’. Think of all the appliances with red lights that are permanently on. They are burning electricity and costing you money - some estimate up to 20% of your electricity bill may be attributed to stand by energy. Are computers and monitors, printers, TVs and coffee machines always on? Put appliances on an extension lead or energy strip so hitting one switch can turn off multiple items at the same time. Elect one employee to be the ‘Vampire Slayer’ and task them with identifying all the items and make a plan to monitor them daily. The results may yield a €2,000.00 saving on a €10,000 bill.
Lighting Lights on in an empty room is non sensical. We suggest using light wisely to reduce your bills and if you can afford it right now, ensure all bulbs are LED - one LED light bulb could save you over €100 in electricity costs over its lifetime of about 20 years. Light sensors that allow lights to turn off automatically in unused spaces are a great buy also.
‘A’ rated appliances If you are shopping for appliances, buy the highest rating you can afford as it will use less energy. Also set and use all appliances to Eco-Mode, use timers for them to run off-peak, and ensure they are being used correctly.
Refrigeration Refrigeration is an essential part of our lives and uses vast amounts of energy 24-7. Check your equipment for anything that may prevent it running efficiently, such as gas leakage, ice build-up or damaged door seals. If possible and safe to do so, leave products to pre-cool before going in the fridge or freezer.
Smart meters Some companies offer a smart metering service that provide an app which will show you where you are using the most energy in real time, when it is cheapest for you to use energy and give you discounts on your standard tariff at specific times. Pinergy, Electric Ireland and Energia provide this service.
If you have a smart meter, check your Time of Use Tariff You can arrange to be charged different rates for electricity depending on the time you use it if on a Time of Use Tariff (TOU tariff). The result will be cheaper rates at night-time when demand is at its lowest (e.g. 11pm – 8am) and higher rates during the day when demand is at its highest (e.g. 8am – 11pm). The results may be lower bills if you use electricity when demand is lowest, and the grid is not under as much strain.
Renewable (Green) Energy Check with your provider that you are on a renewable energy plan to ensure that you are not using fossil fuels and getting the best discount you can on green energy.
- Efficiency first Making efficiency your number one rule with regard to all resource use from gas to oil and even renewable energy will bring your bills down and help you contribute to the reduction of pollution in society. It means re-evaluating how energy is used across all your operations and finding efficiencies, no matter how small, at every opportunity.
Madeleine Murray is co-founder and co-CEO of Change by Degrees, an award-winning sustainability business based in Kinsale offering advice and expertise on sustainability strategies, climate risk assessments, employee engagement programmes and sustainability communications.