Start managing your energy use
You can develop an energy management approach for your business once you've got the basics in place - you know where your business's energy is being used and how to keep track of it. Here is a six-step plan for actively managing your energy use.
For more help with your energy planning and management, download our free guides - Setting up an energy management programme (Part 1) and Key aspects of implementing an energy management programme (Part 2).
What are the specific outcomes you want to achieve for your business? For example, you may want to save money this year, have a longer-term goal to replace outdated equipment, or demonstrate your green credentials to your customers and suppliers.
When you manage your energy well, your profits improve. Unlike rates, rent and other fixed costs, there is a lot you can do to reduce your energy spend. If you want to achieve short-term, simple savings, check out our quick fixes:
Follow the plan below to build a more comprehensive view of your business's energy use and a plan to manage this.
How much involvement and ownership do you need to gain from around your business?
This can extend to your suppliers and customers too. You could choose to manage your energy actions in your spare hours, or appoint an energy manager to drive the programme forward.
If you're serious about energy efficiency, getting your business to commit is the place to start.
It's vital to get management endorsement of your approach, so energy efficiency is seen as an essential part of your business.
Write your own energy management plan, laying out your energy-saving goals for the year and how you plan to meet them. You may want to include specific commitments - such as how suppliers and contractors will help monitor and minimise energy usage.
Consider introducing no-cost energy-saving measures before looking at low-cost options.
Check out some tips for getting your staff on board.
Analyse your bills and the way your business uses energy - what's costing you money?
- Tips on reading your energy bills
- Tips on analysing your energy bills
- Understand where energy is being used.
A professional energy audit shows how efficiently energy is being used and highlights opportunities for energy cost savings. It can also show ways to improve productivity. Energy audits take a thorough look at particular facilities, processes or technologies. A good audit gives you benchmarks to compare options, allowing you to weigh the cost of improvements against future energy cost reductions.
Find out more about audits and the grants that are available.
Based on your objectives. What is realistic, what can you achieve with and without budget?
For example, you may choose to save 5% of your energy bill by implementing a "Switch Off" campaign.
What will you tackle, and when? Classify simple and harder activities.
Once you've understood where your energy is going, you can prioritise where the savings can be made. Start with the simple quick fixes then move on to actions that require more time and investment over the next 12 months.
Set a target for each priority area that the whole business can work towards. Record your targets and make sure staff know what they are, and how they'll be measured.
Define the steps your business will need to take to achieve each target. This is best done in a group. Start by identifying possible barriers, and solutions.
Follow your plan. It will help keep you on track, whether you're introducing immediate no-cost energy saving actions or longer-term changes to business processes.
Monitor, review, and communicate progress.
Track your energy bills as they come in. If your energy supplier doesn't automatically chart your progress on your bills, plot it yourself using Excel spreadsheets.
Achieving energy-saving targets year on year is a great way to save money and grow your business. By keeping an eye on the bigger picture, you can free up cashflow to invest in your business's future.
Review and communicate
Review your energy management system annually. What worked well? What could have been better? Were there any obstacles to achieving your goals?
Regular business planning sessions are a great time to re-establish commitment to your energy efficiency policy and to make changes to keep up with your business needs. Remember to discuss any changes with staff. They are essential for helping your business reach its energy reduction targets.
Look at how much energy you saved and whether you need to reassess your goals for the coming year.
Communicating your success is important to help staff, directors and customers feel involved in the energy saving effort - you could publish results in staff emails, annual reports or on noticeboards at the office.
- Targeting and Monitoring Guide outlines how energy managers can monitor their energy use, as well as providing guidance for senior executives on setting energy reduction targets.