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Making the switch for energy saving

2nd February 2023
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With the government scaling back its Energy Bill Relief Scheme to help businesses with their bills, balancing the books has never been so important.

The government had previously been providing a discount to businesses on the capped cost price of energy but will now discount the lower wholesale price. This means it’s possible some businesses will only get around £50 help towards their bills when they renew their supply contracts.

According to some estimates, the average small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) could reduce their energy bills by between 18 and 25 per cent through relatively low-cost efficiency measures and behavioural change initiatives, so we asked two TRA members how they are making savings on their energy use.


Protecting yourself from future price volatility is key to longevity in turbulent times. Trussed rafter manufacturer Donaldson Timber Engineering is a family business that takes a long-term view when it comes to investing in energy efficiency measures. Luke Roberts, managing director, explains that every business is different but there are some energy saving tricks that will benefit any type of business: “I think that everyone is now so energy conscious at home that it has been easy to get people to buy in to being energy conscious at work. Most of us are going around our homes switching off lights when we don’t need them and so we are getting into the habit of doing that in the office and factory too. The real benefit of being energy efficient is that we can save money whilst making great strides towards our net zero targets.”

Luke says the company is making great progress on energy efficiency initiatives. “We’re installing solar panels at the three sites that have the largest roof spaces to save around 200 tonnes of carbon per year. This programme should be completed by the middle of the year and whilst not providing self-sufficiency will certainly make a dent in our bills whilst reducing our emissions.

“We’ve replaced around 60% of our diesel side loaders with electric ones and we are encouraging people to make the shift to electric company cars as soon as possible. We’re installing chargers at ten sites and we’re about 50% of the way through this programme.”

Philip Pointon, quality & risk director at Pasquill, part of Saint-Gobain Off-Site Solutions, says that Pasquill has been very proactive in implementing an energy saving plan. He explains that they created an energy saving team to focus on energy use to help their drive towards being a net zero company by 2050 and to reduce bills to ensure customer’s prices can be held as low as is possible.

“Our team consisted of staff from our operations, continual improvement and sustainability teams. We knew that to give our plans credibility, we first needed to accurately measure what energy we were using, and where and when it was being used.”

Getting the measure

Most sites have energy meters which allow you to measure energy consumed every half hour. Fitting clamp meters to understand which equipment is consuming the most energy is recommended.

Philip says that setting benchmarks at their factories and publishing the results within the business helps to focus people’s attention: “We use a formula to normalise the data we are extracting from each of the different sized factories and offices. This creates friendly competition between the sites to encourage people to come up with ideas and reduce energy use. We reward good ideas with prizes and many of the best measures are free and very easily implemented. We then assess the payback on each idea.”

With around 3% of a machine’s energy consumption occurring whilst on standby, it’s important to identify ‘vampire’ devices – those that drain power when they are not in use.

For many companies, simply comparing energy use against Christmas day, the one day a year they can be sure that they have closed down every machine and device in the building, can be a good way of ensuring all unnecessary vampires are not in use.

The measures giving the biggest pay back so far are:

  • Installing LED lighting throughout the company.
  • Introducing automatic controls for lighting using timers and motion sensors.
  • “Hiss off” campaign introduced with staff trained to repair pneumatic hose leaks.
  • A shutting down process checklist sets out what to switch off and in what order at end of each day.
  • A ‘Switch it off’ campaign has reduced consumption by 4%.

Philip says they’ve made several changes to the way the company operates: “We include energy saving assessments in our internal audit schedule and have changed our purchasing policy to include environmental, carbon and energy saving considerations. If we have to replace equipment, we make sure we consider the full lifetime cost and don’t just replace like for like. In the first full year after implementing many of these initiatives we reduced our electricity costs by almost 40%.”

Even turning off computers and monitors overnight can save a massive £35 a year, per desk so check out these resources to minimise your energy wastage, prepare your business for future price rises, and in turn reduce your carbon emissions:

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