As energy prices rise, many workers are choosing to spend more time in their offices to save money on their domestic energy bills. One study by price comparison website MoneySuperMarket suggests that 14% of British people are doing exactly that, including 23% of those aged between 18 and 24.
Offices are going to become ‘warm banks’ for their own employees this winter. Whereas the work-from-home policy gave facilities managers a break and more flexibility, the return-to-office will have a tangible impact on the energy costs involved in running the facilities up. This will put pressure on the firms that own or lease the facilities, which already incur high-energy costs themselves.
Organisations are fortunate to encounter this problem today, though. A decade ago, there may have been only a few possible solutions to the problem. Now there are many, some much more advanced than others. I’ve described a full range of the most effective ones here, starting with the most effective.
- Embrace flexibility services
Emerging flexibility services have become increasingly popular in urban areas such as London’s city centre, where multinational organisations like the Financial Times and law firm Pinsent Masons have adopted schemes to optimise energy usage across their headquarters to improve overall energy efficiency.
Facilities managers can implement state of the art devices that monitor a property’s energy consumption, identifying and modulating energy that is non-essential. Essentially, these devices assess where energy is being used, providing accurate measurements on inefficiencies.
This can now be in the form of a small device that can be installed and managed at no cost, operating silently and effectively. This means that FMs can reap the benefits it provides, without any noticeable changes in the way the building is operated.
Furthermore, through the new Demand Flexibility Service, firms that enact these changes can receive money back from network operators for reducing their energy consumption during periods of low supply.
With this in mind, facilities managers have no excuses for not reducing their energy consumption, given there is a proven method that has no cost and works silently. For instance, a participant can receive £3000 per MWh just for testing, so it earns mone y AND saves on energy. A win-win.
High energy costs are going to put a lot of pressure on businesses and their facilities this winter. Facilities management firms will need to recruit every tactic in their arsenals to protect available funds. By following these tips, they’ll be able to win some of their money back that might have otherwise been lost to the cold.
- Take a different perspective on plant and machinery
Think twice before disregarding energy efficient appliances. The decision to onboard these can be highly beneficial for your facility in the long run – not just during the energy crisis.
The Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme, in particular, is something FMs need to have on their radar if they want to future-proof their facilities – and budgets. In short, if a company buys an energy efficient product that qualifies under the Energy Technology List (ETL), a government approved list of approximately 14,000 energy efficient products, 100% of the cost of the investment can be written off against taxable profits for the period in which the purchase was made.
The below are some of the ETL listed technologies:
- Air-to-air energy recovery
- Boiler equipment
- Compressed air equipment
- Heat pumps
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment
- High speed hand air dryers
- Lighting: white LED modules for backlit illuminated signs
- Portable energy monitoring equipment
- Radiant and warm air heaters
- Refrigeration equipment
- Solar thermal systems and collectors
- Uninterruptible power supplies
- Warm air and radiant heaters
- Waste heat to electricity conversion
- Tackle phantom energy
This year has taught us that we all need to become increasingly energy literate. As such, my number one lesson for FMs managing offices is that not all electricity is equal or required all the time. There’s such a thing as non-critical energy, and if gone unnoticed, it can take a serious toll on their budgets.
There’s also such a thing as phantom energy. This is the energy that is being used by expensive equipment that remains plugged in but is not necessarily being used. Think of computers, printers, or kitchen appliances.
As workers make a comeback, a smart move would be to install surge protectors across the building. Separately, getting tenants engaged with educational campaigns around their impact could make a huge difference on the use these are given. The Energy Saving Trust provides a guide to energy efficiency for employees to help get people on board and raise morale whilst saving money on energy bills.