Unlocking Energy Efficiency

Heart of the City | 22 January 2024 | News
Unlocking Energy Efficiency

A new year, a new year’s resolution: save more energy. Why? Every time we waste energy, we waste our hard-earned money while simultaneously wasting our carbon budget.

To help you with your energy saving goals, we’ve teamed up with Jane Mossman, Head of Business Decarbonisation at West London Business to bring you the top tips to save both energy and money on your heating.

Jane Mossman, Head of Business Decarbonisation at West London Business

Understand your energy footprint

Until recently, most people didn’t think about energy – they just used it. That changed with the energy crisis and more recently, the cost-of-living crisis with more people than ever turning off their heating this winter to manage their rising energy costs. The main problem is most of us don’t really understand how and when we use energy, but if armed with this information, businesses and households could cut their bills significantly, potentially as high as 80%, without having to turn the heating off.

How can you do this? There, are four main ways we use and lose energy, and each one contributes to the final bill and one can completely offset the other.

  1. Building design – this is how energy efficient buildings are and depends on the building materials, insulation, windows and so on.
  2. Energy sources – which sources of energy do you use – electricity, gas, or other fuels.
  3. Appliances – this is how energy efficient your appliances are including heating, cooling, lighting, computers and so on.
  4. Behaviour – how do you use energy, how is your heating and cooling set up, do you leave the windows open all year, is equipment left on 24/7?

So, what can you do to better understand your energy use? Do a quick energy audit across the four areas listed above. It doesn’t need to take a long time, but you do need to be in the building and walk around writing notes. There is some excellent guidance in this document written by Historic England if you want to do it yourself, or you can use our downloadable resource – it’s a great way to start embedding net zero in your business. Or even better, get a professional energy consultant to do one for you and provide bespoke advice. There are plenty of free schemes to help businesses and households, such as Better Futures, Hackney Impact, Community Energy London, and many more. If you can’t find one in your local area, contact hello@greenbusinessaction.com and we’ll help you find one.

Heat people and things, not air

Heating and cooling systems typically target air, not people or objects. This approach is inefficient, as heated or cooled air often escapes, leading to high energy costs. An alternative is to directly heat or cool people and objects, offering significant savings.

  • Example 1: A co-working space in East London, using a boiler and radiator system, incurs high energy costs and CO2 emissions. The space is mostly empty on Mondays and Fridays. Implementing intelligent controls like sensors and occupancy tracking can reduce heating costs by 40%, saving £3.8k and 7.6 tonnes of CO2 annually.
  • Example 2: Restaurants are switching from gas to induction hobs. Gas hobs waste 40% of energy heating air, causing overheated kitchens and overworked cooling appliances. Induction hobs are more efficient, heating only pots and pans, reducing surrounding air temperature impact. This switch, especially with renewable electricity, cuts carbon emissions significantly. Fuller’s pubs have already seen a reduction of 948 tonnes of CO2.

For home workers, rather than heating an entire house, using an infrared heater in the workspace can save energy. Traditional radiators consume about 5kW per hour for a typical two-bed flat, while an efficient infrared panel uses only 300 watts, a 94% energy reduction. Avoid fan heaters, which are less efficient. Brands like Herschel Infrared, Suraya, and Castle Heaters offer suitable infrared heaters.

Switching to LEDs is still one of the best ways to cut costs.

Switching to LEDs is still consistently one of the quickest ways to reduce bills and carbon emissions.  This may seem incredible, but more than half the businesses we’ve conducted energy audits for are still not 100% switched to energy efficient LED lighting. An example of the biggest cost saving we identified was £97k annually in a film prop warehouse. With an installation cost of £120k, the new lighting system started saving that company £97k annually after only 14 months.

If you do one thing this year to reduce your energy footprint, check whether you have LED lights or not. If you don’t know whether they are LEDs, send a picture to hello@greenbusessaction.com at BIG South London for guidance. BIG South London is funded by the City of London and was created by the South London Partnership.

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