12 tips for saving energy this Christmas season

As the holiday season approaches, many will be looking forward to a little indulgence after the tumultuous year we’ve had. While embracing excess is a traditional Christmas pastime, it is often followed by having to save money. We’ve put together a list of our best energy saving tips for businesses so that you can enter the new year on a high both spiritually and financially.

Switch to LED lights

LED lighting remains one of the best energy-saving technologies for businesses but even more so during the Christmas period. Estimates show that 1/5 of all UK energy is on lighting. Combined with supporting technology, like movement sensors and timers, you could reduce your lighting bill by over 80%.

Check your heating system

Heating systems, especially boilers, are often a part of a building’s infrastructure before a business moves in. This means that data on their age and running efficiency could be a black hole until they are actively investigated. Check your boiler this winter to see if it requires maintenance or an upgrade to ensure every unit of energy used for heating is done so effectively.

Drop passive energy consumption

Vampire energy use refers to devices and appliances that draw power even when they are not in use. Get a checklist in place as soon as possible. Delegate responsibility for each employee to switch off their devices before they leave. Also, you might use a power strip or two to simplify this process in areas where a lot of devices are in use at once.

Self-reliant buildings

Building management systems (BMS) have seen a bumper of a year thanks to the pandemic and recent lockdown measures. The ability to remotely manage and monitor your utility usage has never been more valuable. Scheduling programs for light, heat and air flow can be integrated into such a system to help support your energy efficiency.

Aside from energy usage, the right BMS can also protect other utilities from the ravages of winter – frozen pipes included.

Intelligent metering

Alongside BMS, a robust metering set-up can provide a more comprehensive view of your utility usage to better inform policy. Using sub-meters in different areas of a site can also give insight into sources of waste or inefficiency. These can then be addressed before they exact a financial toll during the colder months.

Use curtains wisely

As strange as it might sound, curtains can actually provide huge benefits to a business. While open they allow for natural light to fill the office space, so you can dial back on electricity use. Granted daylight is at a minimum at this time of year, but when it gets dark outside, the curtains provide insulation and help retain residual heat.

Draft-proofing doors and windows during the holidays is also a great way to improve heat efficiency on your real estate. Given that SMEs are estimated to overspend on gas heating by as much as 30%, any improvement seems worthwhile. Also, doing this during the Christmas break will minimise disruption for employees.

Saving energy with LED lighting

Building performance

The introduction of widespread EPC use, and its requirement when leasing new buildings, means there is increased pressure to build and maintain better than we have been. However, there’s plenty of reason to go above and beyond EPC guidelines. Improving your insulation, installing double-glazing, or even just draft proofing your premises can yield significant savings on your energy bills.

Onsite generation

EIC has been shouting from the rooftops about onsite generation for years. Could your own rooftops be suitable for solar panels? If so, you could enjoy reduced energy bills and even a passive income stream. As we step closer to net zero 2050, you will be improving your carbon profile as well.

Conduct an energy audit

Like a smart meter, an energy audit will give you a clearer picture of energy usage in your business. Identifying the points of weakness, such as outdated equipment or inefficient behaviour, means you can develop individual solutions that will improve efficiency system-wide.

Make use of gadgets

Tablets use up to 70% less energy than laptops. If you have or are considering a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy, now is an excellent time to action it. You might also consider providing these devices to staff given how much energy it could save you.

Rethink your kitchen etiquette

As the temperature drops, making hot drinks and food become more tantalising, your staff kitchen will be working overtime. Domestic kettles are one of the biggest energy drains in homes and the same is true in office kitchens. Put up posters encouraging your staff to be more environmentally conscious. Such as only boiling enough water for the drink they make or filling a flask in the morning that can last the whole day.

Hibernate

The holiday season and continuing Covid restrictions will leave a lot of offices empty. During this time consider putting together a shutdown list. This will ensure non-critical systems aren’t left running and draining power.

At EIC, we have supported businesses in improving their energy efficiency since 1975. We currently manage around 12-TWh of energy for clients each year and provide services to support many of the strategies we’ve outlined here.

We can help you to integrate Smart Metering, Building Management Systems and Onsite Generation into your business. To find out how get in touch.

4 Types of Carbon Offset Projects

Resource efficiency and sustainability are already integral to a business’s resiliency. All evidence points to carbon offsets becoming the next piece of the puzzle.

Climate-related policy change and litigation are on the rise across the world. It is clear that the involvement of the business sector in reducing global emissions will soon be unavoidable. This means that companies will have to take responsibility for their carbon footprint. Becoming eco-conscious will give a reputational advantage, as well as future security.

There are concerns around carbon offsets being used as a tool for “greenwashing”. This is a term used for a company masking its unethical behaviour with a green veil of traded carbon credits or PPAs. This is a valid concern, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But as we move further and faster towards a net zero economy, genuine “greenness” will carry more weight.

While there are shades of green when it comes to the carbon market, carbon offsetting projects can facilitate valuable environmental and social projects. The benefits of which can extend above and beyond the initial reduction in carbon.

How do carbon offset projects and credits work?

Every tonne of emissions reduced by an environmental project creates one carbon offset or carbon credit. Companies can invest in these projects directly or buy the carbon credits in order to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Carbon credits are tradeable on the market and can be controversial in how easy they are to attain. However, the concept is the same: a company is more or less investing in a green project in order to balance their own emissions.

 

Four main types of carbon offset projects

Forestry and Conservation

Reforestation and conservation have become very popular offsetting schemes. Credits are created based on either the carbon captured by new trees or the carbon not released through protecting old trees. These projects are based all across the world, from growing forests right here in the UK to replanting mangroves in Madagascar, to “re-wilding” the rainforests of Brazil.

Forestry projects are not the cheapest offset option, but they are often chosen for their many benefits outside of the carbon credits they offer. Protecting eco-systems, wildlife, and social heritage is significant for companies offsetting their carbon emissions for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) element.

There is some grey area in forestry offsetting. In the past, it has been difficult to distinguish just how much carbon is being reduced through forestry projects. Fortunately, thanks to emerging new technologies, methods of sustainable reforestation and calculating the benefits have greatly improved.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy offsets help to build or maintain chiefly solar, wind or hydro sites across the world. By investing in these projects, a company is boosting the amount of renewable energy on the grid, creating jobs, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, and bolstering the sector’s global growth.

Take, for example, The Bokhol Plant in Senegal. This project is one of the largest of its kind in West Africa, providing 160,000 people with access to renewable energy. It also saves the government $5 million a year and creates jobs in the region. Plus, the profits from selling carbon credits are often fed back into local community projects.

Community projects

Community projects often help to introduce energy-efficient methods or technology to undeveloped communities around the world. There are many potential benefits to these projects that far surpass carbon credits. Projects like this do not only help to make entire regions more sustainable, they can provide empowerment and independence that can lift communities out of poverty. This means that projects that were, at one time, purely philanthropic can now provide organisations with direct benefits like carbon credits.

For example, the female-led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Ethiopia provides clean water to communities by fixing and funding long-term maintenance for boreholes. How does this reduce carbon emissions? Families will no longer have to burn firewood to boil water, which will protect local forests, prevent carbon emissions and reduce indoor smoke pollution. In addition to the health and environmental benefits, the project is managed by female-led committees who provide work to local women.

The Darfur Sudan Cookstove Project replaced traditional cooking methods like burning wood and charcoal often inside the home, with low smoke stoves in Darfur, Sudan. This works to reduce the damaging health effects and emissions of indoor smoke, as well as the impacts of deforestation. This project also employs women in the region and helps to empower women and girls who now spend less time collecting firewood and cooking.

Waste to energy

A waste to energy project often involves capturing methane and converting it into electricity. Sometimes this means capturing landfill gas, or in smaller villages, human or agricultural waste. In this way, waste to energy projects can impact communities in the same way efficient stoves or clean water can.

One such project in Vietnam is training locals to build and maintain biogas digesters which turn waste into affordable, clean and sustainable energy. This reduces the methane released into the atmosphere, and helps protect their local forests which would otherwise be depleted through sourcing firewood.

When and why are carbon offsets used?

Energy efficiency, clean energy usage, and sustainable business strategies can be very effective in reducing an organisation’s emissions. But there are various scopes to the greenhouse gas emissions that organisations must consider.

Scope 1: Direct emissions from company operations such as company vehicles or factories
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from company operations such as purchased electricity generated by fossil fuels
Scope 3: Indirect emissions from company supply chains such as shipping, business travel, and raw material extraction

Completely eliminating carbon emissions through mitigation methods is not always possible. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.

How can EIC help reduce your carbon footprint?

It is important to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible before considering carbon offsets. Carbon credits should certainly not be used to buy an organisation a clean conscience or create a mirage of sustainability for consumers and/or clients. Carbon offsetting is a valuable tool, and when used to supplement a company’s mitigation efforts, creates a genuinely sustainable and resilient foundation.

At EIC, we offer comprehensive energy and carbon services to help reduce our clients’ carbon footprint in a sustainable way. Our team of experts can help advise on energy efficiency, clean energy solutions, monitoring carbon emissions, and carbon credits.

To learn more about our services contact us at EIC.