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10 easy ways to save energy now the nights are drawing in

Follow these nifty energy-saving tips to keep your workplace lit and staff warm this winter without burning money. 

office window looking out into the dark city

You know what it’s like when the nights start to draw in – colleagues reach for light switches earlier and earlier in the day with one hand and crank up the heating with the other. And that can have a big impact on your workplace’s energy bills, carbon footprint and environmental impact.

But your bills don’t have to spiral out of control. There are lots of things you can do now to make sure your business isn’t wasting energy and money this winter.

What kind of things can you do? We asked our team of our energy experts to share their 10 top tips… 


1. Change the timer on your heating system when the clocks change

Unless you have a modern heating system with a clock that automatically updates, don’t forget to change the timers on your heating system once the clocks have changed. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting energy, and your hard-earned profits, to needlessly heat your premises for an extra hour every morning when your staff aren’t even there.


2. Ask staff to ‘switch off’ lights when they’re not needed

With fewer daylight hours, staff reach for light switches earlier in the day – and this costs money. In fact, for some businesses, lighting can account for as much as 50% of their electricity bill.

A quick way to save energy is to make sure lights aren’t left on in rooms that aren’t being used, including offices, meeting rooms, storage cupboards, toilets and other infrequently occupied spaces. It makes sense, but we must all be guilty of leaving the light on by accident at one time or another. It’s easy to forget.

Our website has everything you need to help you encourage and remind your colleagues to switch off lights when they are not needed. Resources that are ideal for running a successful ‘switch-off’ campaign' in your business include a range of professionally designed, downloadable posters; stickers; and web graphics.

Encouraging staff to be more energy efficient and reduce bills can be done throughout the year. Check out this great example from Edinburgh Leisure, which reduced energy use at one of its sites by 13%.


3. Label your light switches

It’s the end of the day, you’re about to head home and go to turn off the lights in your area. But instead of a simple click, you’re faced with a number of light switches on the wall. Which switch is for your area, and which one will plunge the rest of your colleagues into darkness?

If you’re like most people, you probably won’t take the risk of making the wrong choice and just head straight out of the door, leave all the lights on and let the last person out switch them all off. This is a common occurrence in businesses and a big waste of energy. However, there is a simple solution, just label your light switches. This free template is all you need.


4. Get your lighting for free, by using natural daylight

Making use of natural daylight instead of having lights on is one of the best things you can do to save money and be energy efficient. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses that have lights on in broad daylight.

So, open your blinds, declutter your windowsills and let the light shine in. It’s not only your energy bills that will feel the difference. Natural daylight helps improves productivity and has the added bonus of improving the overall wellbeing of your staff.


5. Relax the dress code

Dress codes in our workplaces have changed quite a bit in recent years; ties and suit jackets now often being reserved for days with important meetings (or at least when senior management is in town). In the winter, it can pay to give staff the freedom to dress appropriately for the colder conditions. For example, ditching the suit jacket for a jumper or fleece can have a fair impact on the amount of heat you need to pump into your workplace to keep staff warm.


6. Allow hot desking (literally)

Setting an ‘ideal’ temperature that will keep everyone happy can be a cause not just for office unrest (and lost productivity), but it can really crank up energy bills. All too often, we see offices where the heating is fired up one minute, quickly followed by someone else switching on the air-conditioning because ‘it is too hot’.

People are different and no single temperature is right for everyone. At the same time, as luck would have it, most buildings have warmer areas (next to server rooms, equipment, etc) and cooler areas (near the doors and windows, and away from equipment). So, if you can, set up a hot-desking system that allows your staff take advantage of these temperature differences and sit where they feel most comfortable.


7. Fix draughty doors and windows

Draughts are a problem for many businesses in Scotland, and it’s not pleasant if you’re sitting in the path of one of them. One of the most effective ways to reduce your heating bill is to reduce heat loss. And the cheapest way to do this is to plug the gaps where you’re losing warm air.

Overly draughty doors and windows can be quickly, easily and cheaply fixed with some brush strips and foam tape.


8. Upgrade your lighting

OK, you’re not going to be able to do this overnight, but if you have older types of lighting, the sooner you upgrade to newer technologies, such as LEDS, the quicker you’ll start saving and stop wasting profits.

Installing LEDs is one of the most common measures businesses are undertaking to reduce energy costs – with the potential to cut energy bills by 75%, you can see why the technology is so popular.

If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise, and you’re not sure if your lighting should be upgraded, please speak to one of our advisors. Their help is free. They can look, do the sums and tell you if your lighting should be upgraded. They’ll also be able to help you apply for an interest-free SME loan from the Scottish Government to help you make the change.


9. Service or upgrade your boiler

Get your boiler serviced or, if it’s getting old, consider upgrading to a newer, energy efficient model. A new boiler could not only save you on maintenance costs, but it will undoubtedly also reduce your energy bills. Typically, boilers over 10 years old will start to become less efficient and can be attractive candidates for an upgrade.

Typically, a new or well-maintained boiler can save your business at least 10% of its energy costs.

Boiler upgrades are also covered by the Scottish Government’s SME loan.


10. Upgrade your insulation

Are your walls, roof and underfloor spaces appropriately insulated? If you’re not sure, you’ll want to find out – otherwise you could be paying more then you need to keep your workplace warm this winter. Give our team a call on 0808 808 2268 and we’ll help you.

Because insulation has such a positive impact on reducing your energy use all year round, it’s also covered by the Scottish Government’s SME loan


So, there you have it, 10 ways your business can reduce its energy use, save money and play its part in beating climate change through the dark winter months.


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Resource Efficient Scotland is a programme from Zero Waste Scotland. Free support to business is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.


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