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The government has announced a £25bn support package for UK businesses to help them through the next six months of the global energy crisis.
While welcomed, this support offers a short-term solution to a long-term problem, meaning financial directors will soon be under intense pressure once again to navigate their organisations through the crisis.
Climate and energy experts have, for a long time, been pushing for the government to focus more on energy efficiency which would address the root issue; that we waste massive amounts of energy. This would offer a much-needed long-term solution and help to alleviate the pressure on businesses at a time of uncertainty.
With conserving energy the only way to truly tackle the issue, built environment experts at IES have offered a four-stage roadmap to help businesses improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and save at least 20% on their energy bills.
1. Understanding your organisation’s energy consumption
The first step in an energy management and cost reduction strategy is to develop a detailed understanding of the energy consumption of the business. This includes how much energy is used, where the organisation gets it from, if it is generated by the business and any plans to expand that could impact future usage. Understanding the principal sources of energy consumption, for example, manufacturing or office space, is the starting point on the road to increased energy efficiency.
Financial directors need to ensure that they are budgeting for and investing in the latest smart metering and energy monitoring infrastructure in order to accurately measure and monitor usage and unlock larger, more sustained savings.
2. Identify where improvements can be made
Once established, energy consumption data can be utilised to identify where energy is being wasted through operational discrepancies. From this, energy saving measures can be identified and implemented to drive down energy usage and bills. The facilities team is then able to adapt the way that they operate the building or buildings, with the potential to make savings from 20%-70% on operational energy costs.
An example of this is the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which saw annual savings of £52.3k, gas savings of 26% and electricity savings of 18%. This was achieved by identifying major energy consumers and using data monitoring and analysis to uncover low-cost energy saving interventions.
3. Set up remote energy monitoring
To save time and improve efficiency, businesses should consider setting up remote energy monitoring of buildings, including the heating and cooling systems. This will prevent operational drift, whereby efficiencies are lost over time due to building occupants and managers altering settings, equipment and use patterns.
4. Consider bigger building investments
When operational improvements have been implemented, financial directors may then wish to consider bigger investment opportunities to make additional savings. Retrofitting a building may be the most effective way to save money, build up energy resilience and keep the business on the journey to net zero. Technology, such as digital twins, can be utilised here to test different scenarios and identify the most impactful retrofit options, and ways that a business could become energy self-sufficient. This means that financial directors can be confident that their spending decisions are well-informed, backed by data and will provide a return on investment.
Richard Fletcher, director at IES said: “At the end of this six-month period, financial directors will be faced with the challenge of reducing soaring energy bills. As a result, they will need to consider how they can make their premises more energy efficient to make significant costs savings and reduce future vulnerability to energy supply issues.
“The long-term solution to this situation is for businesses to take energy consumption into their own hands and explore all opportunities to decrease demand and move away from using price-volatile and carbon-intensive fossil fuels. However, this may not be possible as an immediate action and in the interim, looking at operational inefficiencies and retrofitting opportunities is likely the more feasible option.
“There’s no doubt that businesses face tough times ahead, and whilst it seems that they will receive some support in the short-term, there will be significant challenges. With a difficult winter yet to come, businesses need to act now. While more government support may be forthcoming, businesses must take action now to improve their energy efficiency, and develop renewable energy generation strategies, thus equipping themselves better to deal with future energy challenges.
“Furthermore, reducing energy costs doesn’t need to compromise on other business priorities. Aligning an energy cost strategy to climate and ESG commitments can protect against other unwanted costs, such as lower sale or rental value of buildings, higher operating costs, financial penalties, and increased insurance premiums that often come with inefficient buildings.
“We hope that our Guide to Reducing Business Energy Costs can provide business owners and financial directors with a roadmap to reducing bills and overcoming these challenges.”