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Energy Saving Tips – from “marginal gains” to “game changers”

Energy costs are increasing, and there’s no indication when (if ever) prices will come back down.

Not surprisingly, businesses across every sector are looking for ways to minimise energy use, reduce waste, and save on cost.

The good news is there are plenty of opportunities to improve energy efficiency, no matter how large or small your business is. In this article, we’re looking at some key areas where you can save money on energy.

Save energy on your lighting

From sticking up notices reminding people to turn off lights to upgrading your entire system, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of power used to light up your business.

Timers and motion sensors – there’s no point paying to light a room when it’s not in use. Unfortunately, so many businesses do. Timers and sensors can be a great way to stop this from happening. Ideal for use in places like toilets, store cupboards and hallways where lights don’t need to be left on permanently.

Solar-powered lights – save energy in outdoor areas by installing solar-powered lights. These charge throughout the day and can be used as decorative lighting or for lighting areas such as smoking areas and gardens.

Daylight sensors – daylight sensors can be used to adjust the brightness of your lighting according to the natural light in the room. Your lights will be brighter on those dark, gloomy days and dimmer when the sun is shining.

Directional lighting and partitioning – a lot of light is wasted lighting up dead space, especially in rooms with high ceilings or unused corners. Directional lighting or suspended lighting focuses your lighting where you need it. You can also add reflective partitions to your room to reflect light back into the room rather than adding extra lamps.

LED lighting – if your business still uses old lighting systems, it could be time for an upgrade. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and will outlast any other bulb. While you might have to invest in new fittings, you’ll see a return pretty quickly through the energy you save.

Save energy on your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)

Temperature control and ventilation are important, but HVAC systems can be a huge drain on power.

Draft proof your building – check your roofing, windows and doors regularly to prevent energy from escaping unnecessarily. Add draft excluders or replace old window and door frames to keep heat in.

Install SMART thermostats – older heating systems have two settings – on or off – for the entire building. This can cause huge variations in temperature between rooms. With smart controls, you can control the temperature of each room. Offices and staff rooms can be kept warm in winter and cool in summer, while warehouses and storage areas can be kept at a consistent temperature year-round.

Regular cleaning, maintenance and servicing – one of the biggest causes of inefficiency in ventilation and air conditioning systems is poor cleaning and maintenance. Ducts, vents and filters must be kept dust-free, and units must be regularly serviced to ensure optimum efficiency.

Automated ventilation – excessive ventilation is a key cause of energy loss and needs to be set according to activity. Linking timers and automated occupancy sensors to machinery ensures ventilation starts only when needed.

Invest in heat pumps – heat pumps work by using thermal energy from outside a building to heat the inside of the building. Air heat pumps take energy from the air outside, while ground heat pumps take energy from the ground. Although heat pumps require electricity to circulate the heat, they are more energy efficient than electric heating systems.

Replace inefficient systems – old, inefficient boilers, central heating systems, and air-con units could be costing a fortune in wasted energy and running costs. Replacing your system with modern, efficient smart systems will help you reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.

Improve machine efficiency

Most machinery requires power, and where there is power, there is an opportunity for increased efficiency.

Upgrade old appliances – every appliance, from a small microwave in the staff room to an industrial refrigeration unit, should be checked for energy efficiency. If your equipment is not efficient, consider replacing or upgrading it.

Cleaning and maintenance – any machinery, electrical equipment, and electrical installations should be properly maintained to ensure efficiency and safety.

Voltage optimisation – a voltage optimisation system allows you to control and manage the voltage as it comes into the business, distributing the power to the equipment as needed and sending surplus back to the grid. For older factories, this can cut energy consumption and carbon emissions by 20%, saving you a significant amount of money.

Variable speed drives – motors and drives are typically the largest energy consumer on a production line. A Variable Speed Drive will make a motor work more efficiently and cut energy consumption by around 50%.

Compressed air – while some equipment can’t operate without compressed air, it is often over-used, causing unnecessary costs. Switch to cold air where possible – it’s denser than warm air and uses less energy to compress. Check for leaks or escaping air by running a solution through the pipes regularly.

Automation – many production processes can be automated, ensuring machines run more efficiently and reducing waste.

Ovens, dryers and refrigeration systems – maintain your equipment and regularly check for broken seals, clogged filters, leaks or damaged insulation. Keep walk-in fridges and freezers closed when not in use and try to use ovens only when they are at full load.

Create your own energy

There are several benefits to creating your own energy, not least lowering the cost of your electricity bills by a significant amount. You reduce dependency on the grid, aren’t subject to price increases or fluctuations, and if you have excess electricity, it’s possible to sell it to nearby consumers or suppliers.

Solar energy – solar panels convert light into electricity and don’t need direct sunlight to generate power. They require very little maintenance and come with long warranties, so they are cost-effective once installed. Solar panels are ideal if you have a large roof space (on top of a warehouse, for example).

Wind energy – one wind turbine can create enough energy to power four homes or a small business. Wind power could be a great long-term investment if you are located in a relatively windy area and have unused land. You may even find installers willing to split the investment, so you can benefit from cheaper energy with a smaller outlay.

Wind-solar hybrid – a hybrid solution allows you to benefit from the sunshine in the summer months and make use of the wind during the winter.

Working with AES

AES is an electrical contractor with a focus on energy efficiency. As part of our mission to collectively reduce carbon emissions, we offer free energy reduction audits.

You’ll receive a full report detailing where energy consumption savings can be made and the cost savings for your business.
We also offer energy reduction services specifically for manufacturers. These include low-energy lighting solutions, voltage optimisation, energy-efficient motors and variable speed drives.

If you’d like to start your journey to energy efficiency, get in touch for some more energy saving tips or to find out how AES can support your goals.