As we head into 2019, energy efficiency has never been more of a priority for many organisations we talk to. One way of becoming more energy efficient is to encourage your team to take action.
The benefits are clear. Carbon Trust estimates that even small behavioural changes can reduce energy costs in an organisation by at least 10%, while Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest report revealed behaviour change is the fourth most popular energy efficiency uptake. So businesses are starting to recognise the importance of individual actions.
But to do this, you must be able to clearly communicate the advantages of energy efficiency to your employees and ensure they understand its importance. We speak to Eunice Mabey, Energy Optimisation Director at SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions, to find out how to empower your employees and bring them with you on your energy efficiency journey.
Stick to an energy strategy
Eunice’s first piece of advice is to make an energy strategy and communicate it to your team (you can find out more about creating an energy strategy here).
If adhered to, an energy strategy can be transformative and setting this out can help those working in the business understand their part in saving energy. It is very important that your employees know your energy needs if you are to make tangible savings.
What should a strategy consider? “No matter how complicated your energy needs are, at its core, your energy strategy should help you and your team measure, monitor and control your energy usage,” says Eunice.
Get employee buy-in
To make any in-roads into energy efficiency, it’s crucial you take your employees with you and help them understand why and how your business needs to improve.
We asked Eunice what the key steps to implementing a successful strategy were.
“Awareness, Awareness, Awareness,” she says. “Employees need to know what, why and when, as far as saving energy is concerned. There are a number of initiatives that can help: setting up energy champion groups, running awareness campaigns, as well as supporting external energy events such as Earth Hour and Energy Saving Week. Getting your messaging right is crucial: make sure you’re reiterating the need for energy savings at meetings and via email and giving your team practical examples that are easy to do, such as only boiling the amount of water actually needed for a cup of tea.
“Making energy more tangible can also work well as a strategy,” according to Eunice. “One way of doing this is to let employees know how much it costs to run the office but in a way that is meaningful to them. For example, explaining that lighting a typical office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea is going to strike more of a chord than telling them how many kWhs it’s using.
Eunice also recommends running energy saving workshops: “These can be a useful educational tool and a great way of sparking interest. In a workshop, you might ask your team what they think they could do to help reduce energy consumption and, if they are successful, what they would like to put the savings towards. Equally, if your organisation has several sites, you could think about setting up a league table across sites and running an energy efficiency competition.”
“Whatever you do though, make sure you regularly communicate how seemingly small actions have impacted on the bottom line, and how that’s going to benefit them,” advises Eunice. “Has it freed up some cash for bonuses, or extra training maybe? Has it reduced your company’s carbon footprint? It’s important that each member of the team knows how their contributions are making the company more energy efficient.”
Look for quick wins
Assess what you and your employees can be doing now to help reduce energy usage. This is most easily done by starting with the low hanging fruit.
As a simple starting point, Eunice recommends turning appliances off if they’re not required.
“Encouraging your employees, for instance, to turn off their PCs when they’re not using them, could save around £35 per year per machine. If you multiply this by the number of computers in your office, this could translate into sizeable savings,” she says.
“There are often easy steps an employee can take on their own to reduce energy usage and this can help them feel like they have a real stake in the business,” she adds. “Equally, could anyone swap places with anyone else? Someone who feels the cold might work better being placed by a radiator, while someone who doesn’t might prefer to be near a window.
“These quick wins can also have longer reaching effects. Seeing the impact these very easy actions have on the company’s bottom line can help open discussions about further energy optimisation solutions.”
Eunice’s top tips for energy efficiency
It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep lights switched off when they’re not in use. Don’t walk by if you see a room or corridor that is unoccupied or has enough natural daylight.
If you spot a dripping tap, urinal or toilet, report it to your Facilities Manager as soon as you can.
Switch off electrical appliances like computers, printers, projectors and phone chargers at the end of each day. If you switch these on first thing in the morning, they should be up and running in the time it takes for you to make a cup of tea.
Use windows for natural ventilation rather than air-conditioning units. You can also use internal or external shades to stop glare and excess heat on a sunny day.
Use the thermostatic radiator valves (TVRs) to adjust the temperature, rather than opening a window when the heating is on.
Only boil what you need. If you have a point of use hot water tap, check to see if there is a timer so it can be switched off overnight. If there isn’t a timer, see if a timer plug can be used.
If the car parking lighting is on when there is enough daylight, inform your Facilities Manager.
It’s hard to keep everyone at the right temperature. See if swapping desks could help: could employees who like it cooler sit closer to the air conditioning unit or window and those who like it warmer sit closer to the radiators? Also, don’t forget to dress for the weather – so wear jumpers in the winter rather than ramping the heating up.
Set up an internal group to help cascade messages on energy efficiency and collate ideas from colleagues. Create posters and competitions as well as joining in National / Global events, such as Energy Saving Week.
Use BEI (Business Energy Intelligence) and other energy efficiency tools
Taking the above steps are invaluable. But to really demonstrate their impact, you need to be able to measure the success.
SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions customers can make use of the tools at their disposal to get a head start, including BEI, the online platform which allows you to remotely monitor all your utility data by creating a wide range of reports for both long and short-term trend analysis. This platform can help you to identify opportunities to save time, energy, carbon and money.
Eunice also recommends using SSE’s Seven Steps to Energy Efficiency alongside these, while Carbon Trust has some useful crib sheets. “These can help you make sure there is an energy policy and energy awareness throughout the business, even setting out how to include this as a defined role– another way of helping your employees feel directly involved in the process.”
So take these steps today and help make 2019 your most energy efficient year yet.