Energy efficiency can be a benefit to any business and make a real difference to the bottom line, writes Andrew Lever
HOW much do you know about your business’s energy use and how proactive have you been in seeking to reduce costs?
There is plenty of scope to improve energy efficiency in the hospitality sector.
The sector consumes 20,910 GWh per year, which is equivalent to the energy use of 1.2 million households.
However, the government estimates that 4300 GWh a year could be saved across the sector by investing in energy saving measures and better practices.
The benefits don’t stop at the bottom line either. Simple energy efficiency measures can increase levels of staff and customer comfort.
Whether your business is a hotel, pub, bar or restaurant, heating and lighting will account for a large part of your energy costs.
You can implement some simple measures immediately, such as switching off lights and closing windows.
However, to make substantial and sustained energy savings, it is essential to build an accurate picture of your energy use – and for this, you will need a smart meter.
Smart meters are replacing traditional meters in small businesses as part of a national infrastructure upgrade that will build a smart grid, digitise our energy system and drive innovation.
Installing a smart meter is an easy way to break down your energy usage and highlight the areas where you are consuming the most energy.
Providing data in real time, smart meters can help you feel in control of this aspect of your business, avoiding unexpected bills or allowing faster diagnosis of equipment or process failures.
Having better information will also help time-poor staff understand where waste is occurring and allow for a faster, more tailored response.
The power of smart meters will continue to grow in the near future as new innovations are unlocked by a smarter grid.
Of particular relevance to licensees is the Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition, an £8.8m UK government initiative to fund the development of innovations such as apps, online platforms and activities that engage and empower decision makers by using smart meter data to make businesses more efficient.
These solutions are particularly tailored to the needs of smaller businesses in the hospitality sector, given they are unlikely to have an energy manager.
Features piloted in small businesses throughout 2019 as part of this initiative include:
• visualisation and tracking of energy use;
• centralised monitoring to see the full picture, help to schedule work patterns, trading hours, and maintenance;
• tailored energy-saving hints and tips;
• correlating energy use with key hospitality metrics;
• billing management, business planning, checklists and customer comfort management;
• budget control tracking against a set target;
• ‘push’ alerts to advise of unusual or changing business energy activity;
• performance benchmarking against businesses of the same type and size.
For all business, having the ability to identify cost savings is a priority and this next generation of business-focused tools will help achieve that.
For licensees, the first step is to install a smart meter. By doing so, you will be taking control of your energy use and future-proofing your business at a time when action on climate change is more urgent than ever.
• Andrew Lever is director of programmes and innovation at The Carbon Trust.