Energy is such an abstract concept that it can be hard to get a handle on it. We switch on lights and energy arrives but we never actually see it. This can make it hard to control. For the purposes of energy management, it can be useful to think of energy in the same way as water. If you had leaky taps, you’d soon know about it from the big puddle on the floor and you would almost certainly do something about it. Energy doesn’t form in puddles, instead it just keeps powering things and costing you money.
It’s like an invisible hand in your safe, stealing bank notes whilst you sleep. But how do you identify leaks if you can’t see what’s coming out of them? One simple way is to find out the energy use of your business when everyone’s gone home and the business is closed. Finding high energy use in a shut business is a bit like finding big holes in your water pipes, and it’s just as dangerous for your business.
If finding leaks appeals to you then here’s our 5 point guide to deaing with them:
- Check your electricity meters at the end of the working day and again the following morning. The units used during that period will show how big the problem is.
- To find the leaks, you need to identify what equipment has been left on. You will probably need to do a physical walkaround at this stage, so prepare yourself for a late trip home. Go round all parts of your business (in stages if necessary) and find the equipment/lights etc that have been left on. Switch it all off and check the meters again overnight.
- Some energy use might be fully justified but if you find PCs, unused equipment, space heating, lighting etc then you know it can and should be switched off.
- It’s important to be tough on yourself at this stage. Don’t accept leaks. If a server room sucks up energy round the clock then see if you can change the cooling settings to cool it less overnight (BT ran a test and found that server rooms are quite happy up to 24 degrees). Ambient lighting might make your business look nice, but if no one’s there to see it then it then you’re being leaky.
- Once you know where your leaks are and have fixed the ones you can control, that’s when behaviour management comes in. Communicate to the people who use the leaky equipment that your company’s policy is to switch equipment off. Check it yourself at random times and remind people. Also consider installing automatic switches for lighting so lights go off automatically when there’s no one around.
We know that it’s easy to slip back into bad habits, but with a concerted effort and a rigid environmental policy you can rid yourself of leaks.