Energy efficiency refers to the use of a specific technology that requires less energy to achieve the same performance or that increases the output without consuming more energy. Energy efficiency focuses on technology, equipment or machinery being used in buildings. Energy conservation focuses on people’s behavior to use less energy.
Let’s start by describing the enormous untapped energy efficiency potential of your company:
Your company could save up to:
- 70% of energy use for your lighting system
- 30% of energy use of your cooling system, your pumping systems and of your heating system
- 50% compressed air system
- 25% ventilation system
Source: Initiative EnergieEffizienz, Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena)
You may agree that companies are facing real challenges in the current economic crisis; one of this is to cope with continuously increasing energy prices. Reducing your energy use means clearly reducing your energy costs and consequently enhancing your competitiveness.
Energy costs are manageable. Being more energy efficient will not only make your company more competitive, but has a knock-on effect. It means improving the business image by reducing the company’s impact, increasing its sustainability and improving the knowledge of your company by detecting existing leakages and assessing your business overall energy performance.
Are you sure? Do you know how old your lighting system is? Do you know how much electricity you consume for compressed air? Do you take care of your leakages and do you know how much they cost?
Probably, you are aware of improvements to be done, but you don’t know how to manage your energy use. Chambers of Commerce and Industry are available to support you in defining an easy to implement energy strategy for your business. Invest in energy efficiency may be seen as a risk, but as an entrepreneur you surely know that behind a risk there is an opportunity.
Our first suggestion is to identify in your company a person or a team that may have some expertise on energy and will be responsible for the energy management. Invest time to train this person.
Let’s take the following simple example. As already mentioned, being more energy efficient will result in reducing your energy bill. This means more money left for your company and ready to be invested in other activities. Furthermore, if you decide to implement an Energy Management System, your SMEs will gain a competitive advantage: large companies who are obliged to implement energy certifications are pushing also their suppliers to do the same, among which there are certainly SMEs like yours. You can therefore overcome your peer’s pressure. Likewise reducing your company environmental impact will boost your business image among your clients as well.
Energy efficiency measures fall in 2 categories:
No cost or low cost measures, highly effective with immediate results – payback period of less than one year:
Low or no cost measures can be implemented by simply measuring and monitoring of energy use and are related to behavioral changes of your staff. Changing habits by engaging all employees and setting up concerted switching off campaigns (turning off the lights during nights and weekends and in empty rooms, turning off your office equipment (pc, copiers, printers, etc.), as well as the regular control of your energy meters to assess the effectiveness of your efforts could lead to up to 20% of energy savings for your companies.
Additionally, adopting an energy efficiency parameter when buying new equipment for your business is indeed a substantial step to reduce your energy use and enhance competitiveness
Mid cost and high cost measures, highly effective, long lasting results - payback period of less than 2 years:
You may invest in energy efficient technologies. These measures are highly effective and they produce long lasting results. The range of action is enormous: you can replace your standard bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs (like CFLs or LEDs) 75% of energy saved, you can install intelligent light controls, you can modernize your compressed air-system, you can improve the insulation of your building, etc. You can even consider getting your energy from renewable sources, making your business more sustainable.
Here below some examples of best practices of mid and high cost measures implemented (© Copyright 2014 | LEEN GmbH):
Exchange of 250 lights in the production area
One-off investment: €11,500
Energy savings: 48 % p.a.
Cost savings: €7,100 p.a.
Payback: 1.6 years
Modernisation of a compressed-air system
One-off investment: €70,000
Energy savings: 9 % p.a.
Cost savings: €60,500 p.a.
Payback: 1.2 years
Modernisation of a heat exchanger
One-off investment: €42,000
Cost savings: €58,600 p.a.
Payback: 0.9 years
Heat recovery concerning a compressed-air system
One-off investment: €45,500
Cost savings: €46,600 p.a.
Payback: 1 year
You can simply change your company habits. Switching off lights out of business hours, turning off your IT equipment when not in use (even avoid the standby mode), lowering your room temperature by 1 degree or increasing the temperature of your cooling system (+6% of energy savings) does not require much time and results in immediate energy savings. In jargon, these highly effective measures are referred to as the so called “low hanging fruits”. These achievements will certainly constitute an incentive for your company to be more active in the field of energy management for long-term results.
Remember: being energy efficient has a team building aspect and intensifies communication among staff. This is a sufficient driver for the management to start an awareness campaign. Most staff understands and is happy to support energy efficiency programmes. Moreover, they can help in identifying energy leakages in the company. If not, it is usually caused by:
- They have other priorities
- They forget
- It has not been explained to them
- They feel excluded
The best strategy to involve employees is to create a real challenge. Firstly, involve staff in agreeing possible solutions, showing that you want to include them in the decision. Furthermore, explain the reasons why your company is engaging in energy efficiency. For instance, setting up a regular maintenance programme of your company’s HVAC filters will surely increase the comfort of employees in the workplace. Lastly, show how simple energy saving recommendation could be implemented at home.
Use different approaches to keep energy efficiency prominent:
- Posters, stickers (Have a look at our flyer: "10 tips to reduce energy consumption"!)
- Quizzes & Competitions
- Seminars (they can improve their expertise)
…and share the results achieved so far.
You can start with a simple energy pre-check, by assessing your business devices, equipment or buildings (lighting systems, heating and cooling systems, compressed air modules) to key performance indicators (KPIs). By comparing your building and equipment with each other and with performance indicators, the pre-check assesses your company’s current situation, identifies the areas of potential improvement and the low-term measures to be implemented. If you follow simple recommendations, your business can get immediate results.
Do you want to carry out an energy walk around? You can use the energy walk around checklist by The Carbon Trust (© The Carbon Trust 2013.)
The energy audits consist of a comprehensive and detailed analysis of energy use and energy consumption of a building, facilities and devices of a business conducted by an energy expert. The audit identifies energy flows and the potential for energy efficiency improvements by reporting mid- and long term solutions. The audit helps companies to prioritize relevant actions and energy efficiency measures.
If you wish to get in contact with an energy expert please contact your local CCI.
Available funds and conditions differ from country to country. Please contact the experts of your local Chambers of Commerce Advisors whose contact details are listed on the relevant Partner’s webpage.
For more information please have a look also at the Training Material for SMEs, which is available for download on the SME page.