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It’s official: I saw Christmas decorations during my last trip to the grocery store, which means 2015 is coming to a close. (The painful reminder of the relentless push of Father Time was soothed by a few beautifully cut steaks, however.) And as we creep closer to Dec. 31, we enter a time of year where contemplation and reflection are inevitable. Am I the person I want to be? Will I leave this earth a better place?
You’ve come to the wrong blog for existential guidance, unfortunately. However, if “Am I spending more on energy than I should?” is a nagging question, then read on. There is still an opportunity to capture savings before year’s end and help set your business up for success in 2016.
Here are five strategies to explore right now:
Take a close look at your energy bills
Is your utility charging more than it should? It’s possible that there are inaccuracies lurking in those bills; for example, we have found some markets with error rates that eclipse 25%. However, miscalculations are not the only potential surprises. You should also examine whether you have the best utility rates for your consumption patterns. If not, it’s time to switch to a cheaper tariff or a better supplier if rules allow.
Also, beware of what’s hiding within the numbers. Utilities often embed penalties in their distribution rates. Unbundling the charges will help you identify their causes — for example, if the power factor (the ratio of electricity supplied to the electricity actually consumed) of a facility falls below a certain threshold, utilities often add reactive charges. Finally, verifying real energy use against the billing amount can help you find and remedy issues. Read more about how invoice auditing can save money.
Tweak your habits
Did you know that changing how your co-workers operate in the building, and making low- to-no-cost improvements can help you capture up to 50% of efficiency opportunities? (More on the latter to follow.) Empowering employees to get involved in energy initiatives helps create an efficiency-first culture and cut costs. The Hawthorn Effect2 indicates that tracking and sharing energy metrics alone can reduce consumption up to 2%.
Deploy quick fixes (with long-term benefits)
There are also some minor investments you can make that will pay dividends quickly. At the top of the list is an investment that only requires changes to heating and cooling schedules. That’s because you can trim 1% of energy use per half a degree (○C) that temps are set back for 8 or more hours1. In addition, small upgrades such as installing occupancy sensors can provide energy savings straightaway. Variable speed drives are also energy-saving machines, and can trim pump and fan use 25-85%. If you’re not sure where to start, call on an expert that can assess your facilities on site or remotely, and help identify the efficiency-focused improvements with the highest ROI.
Collect time-limited incentives
Both utility companies and government agencies offer incentives for a variety of projects, such as deploying renewable technologies, LED lighting or HVAC upgrades. Though locating and applying for them can be complex, there is lots of opportunity if you know where to look.
For example, we track more than 35,000 different rebate and incentive programs just in the U.S. And given the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive, along with country-level climate-action plans and goals, there are myriad incentives for organizations to help meet these commitments. If you’re not aware of all the programs available in your region, reach out to experts who can quickly pinpoint the savings you deserve.
Consider greener energy
You won’t be accused of hugging trees because both environmentalists and CFOs agree that falling technology prices, as well as new rebates and incentives, make green energy fiscally compelling. In the U.S., companies can receive tax credits up to 20% for purchasing renewable energy. Plus, once again, most European countries have similar if not more robust incentives.
Weigh your options between on-site generation and purchasing renewable energy to cash in on the revolution. Green energy will not only reduce your organizational footprint; it can cut your energy bills too.
These tips may not help you become a better person. But they can make you a better business and environmental steward. Which, as it turns out, might actually make you a better person. Maybe doling out self-improvement advice is easier than I thought.
Have a great and efficient end to the year!
- See how Schneider Electric Energy and Sustainability Services experts can help meet your energy goals and reduction targets
1US Department of Energy, Energy saver, May 2014
2ASHRAE, ‘Making the case for energy metering’, 2011