For most people utility waste is something that goes unnoticed. We get our energy bills and they generally go up a bit from the last one compared season to season, but we just say ‘well the price must have gone up’, or ‘it must have been colder or hotter’.
The problem is that even when people acknowledge the existence of utility waste most choose to ignore utility efficiency because it seems hard to tackle, or they believe the effort out ways the return. For organisations such as schools, manufacturing plants and residential building managers, the benefits of implementing these cost saving actions can be huge.
As with all things take ‘baby steps’
This is much easier and quicker if you have good consumption data, and some good tools to help you understand that data. It is even quicker if you have real-time data, as you can measure the impact of change immediately. That’s what we provide, but here are some simple low-cost/no-cost things to get you started.
Tips from the Experts
1. Last person out turns the lights off
Initiating this simple policy can save more than you probably think…
Lets take an average example of a 1000 square metre office of say 20-30 employees using flourescent lighting that are continually on. If all lights are turned off at night the organisation could save over £60/night or £1800/month or a staggering £21,600 per year.
In addition the cost of purchasing new light bulbs will half.
2. Check your water meter out of hours
On a random day ask the first person to arrive or last to leave to take a look at the water meter. If it is showing consumption, you have a problem. Water costs around £1.70 per m3 when you look at supply and waste, so water going down the toilet is exactly like you flushing money away. Check the building for leaking taps, continuously flushing urinals and toilets.
As a guide if your drip can fill a milk bottle in five minutes, then it’s wasting nearly 60,000 litres of water a year – costing you over £102!
3. Prepare for the closed days
Closed Saturday and Sunday, make sure the building is ready. Boiler on frost only, lights off, computers, printers off, A/C (except IT) off.
Putting this in real terms an office of 20 idle computers and 2 printers left on would cost around £850 per year including weekends and week nights.
4. Think about your space
If less of the staff use a building on Saturday or holidays, make provision for them to share the same space. Only heat/cool and light that space. This also mitigates the risk of them leaving half the building on when they leave.
5. Check your boiler control.
Yes I have a temperature compensated boiler control.
Make sure the time you set is the time you want the building warm. The controller will make the start time adjustment for you based on how cold it is. A typical mistake is to treat these controllers like a normal timer. You tell the boiler to come on at 06:00 to have the building toasty by 09:00, and it comes on at 02:00 because you actually told it to be toasty by 06:00!
No I just have a standard timer.
Make adjustments to the start time as frequently as you can. Look at the weather forecast and adjust the start time accordingly. Make sure if you are a Monday to Friday operation, you don’t treat every day like Monday. On Monday after a cold weekend you will need the heating on early to re-heat the building, on Tuesday you don’t!
6. Night lighting
Outdoor lighting can be very expensive to run, if you need to operate this, consider its purpose and run time.
If lighting is outside, is the controller being adjusted for sun rise and sun set times? Try and do this each month if you can. Have you upgraded the technology, modern lighting systems could have a big impact on these high lux systems. For indoor areas, is the lighting strategy in line with use, can the last out turn it off, and the first in turn it on without affecting safety?
7. Can you partially light areas?
If you have good natural lighting, you can turn off some of the office lights on bright sunny days.
It may be possible to turn off half or all the internal lights in an area where natural light is good and no one will even notice the difference.
8. Infrequently used areas
Try to heat, cool and light these in perpetration for intended use, not the hope of use. Also consider allocation, if you have lots of meeting spaces, have a priority of use so you are heating/cooling the areas used. Think about this. In the summer, it may be better to rotate the allocation, to take advantage of natural cooling in empty rooms it should also be noted that certain areas of the building heat and cool differently dependent on the time of day, so prioritising meeting rooms in one are in the morning and another in the afternoon may be beneficial.
9. Seasonal considerations
In the spring and autumn you may consider using the A/C system to heat, rather than using the boiler to do it.
This is especially true if A/C heating / cooling is under user control, as they will better compensate of environmental changes. Running the boiler for a few hours, runs the risk of users compensating for over-heating with cooling.
10. Ask and inform
Occupants and employees will have great ideas, but you have to ask them. They will also be far more tolerant of changes, if you tell them why and visually demonstrate the benefits and impact.
You also should never under estimate the sheep factor. If one area is doing well, promote that fact. Nobody likes to come last.
So what do I do after saving on my energy bills?
The examples above, if you have a 20 person organisation could save you around £25,000/year. No small change. But how can you measure this?
At some point in this process you will need to replace intuition & best guesswork with reliable & automated consumption data. It can be much cheaper than you think to implement and in most cases it can be a zero cost investment withing two years.
What to add your own tips to this list? Send us a message.