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.

Challenging Winter Ahead for Triad Season

Winter is fast approaching and the Triad season will soon begin. This is an important time for many large UK consumers as they seek to lower transmission costs by reducing demand during potential Triad periods. Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of February and each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

If your electricity contract allows it then reducing your demand at these specific points will result in lower transmission charges. However, knowing when Triads occur is a complex business so, to help our clients, EIC provides a Triad Alert service. We have successfully forecast each of the three Triad periods for the last 8 years, saving customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

Pandemic continues to suppress demand

Winter peak demand is at its lowest point since 1992/93 and is now 14 GW (~24%) lower than the peak of 2010/11. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the fall in peak demand over the past decade. These include improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances, an increase in LED lighting and a rise in embedded generation.

However, in 2020 we can add another significant contributor to demand reduction. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic fall in peak demand since mid-March. Demand has increased since lockdown ended but is still lower than previous years.

National Grid are currently forecasting peak demand over the Triad period to be around 43-44 GW, slightly lower than last winter’s peak of 45 GW. The winter demand forecast looks to be flatter than previous years, making predicting when Triads will fall far more challenging. It is therefore important to receive Triad alerts from a trusted and reliable source such as EIC.

EIC’s record of Triad season success

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last eight years. We issue clients with comprehensive alerts advising them when a Triad is forecast, so they can reduce consumption accordingly.

Our Triad Alert Service forecasts the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and sends alerts before 10am. Businesses can then take action to avoid high usage during these periods, while minimising disruption to everyday activity. We also monitor the market throughout the day and send out an afternoon alert in the event of significant change. The daily report can also help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Calling daily alerts would generate a 100% success rate, however this could have a negative impact on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for 4 months ‘just in case’ and at EIC our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible. Over the 2019/20 Triad period we called just 13 alerts while the average supplier issued over 20.

Triads granted extra year

In December 2019, Ofgem published their final decision on the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). The main outcome of this decision is that, from April 2021, the residual part of transmission charges will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic Ofgem has decided to delay this by a year. This provides an extra opportunity for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance before TCR changes arrive in April 2022.

With the TCR, Ofgem aims to introduce a charge it considers fair to all consumers, not just those able to reduce during peak periods. For the majority of consumers these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action it is likely that their future costs will rise.

How we can help with Triad season

We have helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction.

Last year, our customers cut demand by an average of 41% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption – resulting in significant cost savings. Clients who responded to our Triad Alerts, saved on average £180,000. Our best result last winter saw a client saving nearly £1 million in TNUoS charges.

The Triad season starts on 1 November. Find out more about our Triad Alert service.