Energy: where to start?

Your best business sustainability starting point is to look at your business’s energy efficiency and your energy suppliers. 

Step 1 Measure 

Pick a year to measure and stick to that for all of the key areas.

  1. Energy 

Energy used by company facilities, offices, company vehicles, etc.

Take a snapshot of 12 months of bills, ideally from last year, to work out your total energy consumption (bills have kilowatt hours used as well as cost).

  1. Buildings

Here you are looking at the energy consumption and efficiency of your building.

Install smart meters and sub meters to start reading the data of what consumes the most energy. Or you can estimate using the product’s own information.

For example most commercial printers which are used in an office will draw 30 to 50 watts on standby and 300 to 500 watts when printing.

Step 2 – Make changes

1 – Switch to renewable electricity

The easiest change you can make might take not much more than a phone call to set up. By changing your electricity to a renewable energy provider you can reduce your footprint by a huge amount. Providers such as Energia, SSE Airtricity & Iberdrola offer 100% renewable energy sourced mainly from wind and solar power. Mainstream electricity providers such as Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy also offer green tariffs for business. Both options will ensure that your business’s lighting and power needs are no longer burning fossil fuels. In Ireland check out for deals to switch. Ask your serviced office provider who they use and lobby them to switch. 

2 – Energy efficiency – small changes

Simple changes that can be made to reduce your energy consumption include reducing your heating by 1°C or increasing your air conditioning by 1°C if you have it. Incandescent light bulbs can be switched to LED, or CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) which will reduce your energy bills as well as lasting longer. Timers and smart controls can be added to better manage your lighting, heating and cooling use. Look at energy efficiency ratings when you need to change appliances such as the fridge in the staff canteen or computer/display monitors. Get everyone in the habit of turning off the computer at the end of the day and switching off monitors when away from their desks. 

3 – Energy efficiency – Bigger renovations

Make more complex renovations if you own your business premises. Explore  adding double or triple glazing windows and improved wall and roof insulation. Roof installed solar photovoltaic (for electricity) or solar hot water panels can provide electricity or hot water directly to your premises, reducing your energy bills and your carbon footprint. Consider switching from gas heating to a renewable heat pump system. Research any grants or subsidised loans that may be available to carry out these sorts of renovations. 

A rainwater harvesting system for toilet flushing could also be an option which would reduce your water consumption and bills.

4 – Transport Energy

If you have a commercial fleet you could begin to replace end of life vehicles with hybrid models or ones which run on renewable fuels.