Act now to maximise your business energy efficiency in 2024

As we near the end of the year, your business planning will start to look towards 2024.

Whether you are a large company, a public sector organisation or an SME, there will be an overarching strategy that will include milestones and targets along the way. It will also cover energy management commitments.

To help you, Energy Consultant, Casey Streat, has put together five things to consider ensuring minimised energy expenditure and reduced emissions, keeping you on track to your long-term sustainability or net zero goals.

1. Mitigate energy price uncertainty

Energy budgets have been challenged over the past few years. Despite the Energy Bill Relief Scheme and the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS), as well as wholesale energy prices falling from their high peak, energy still accounts for a much larger cost than it did a few years ago. Many businesses have had to acclimatise to the higher prices, and try where they can, to keep their consumption lower. However, as we enter the winter months consumption will inevitably rise again.

To help offset that rise, manage your energy efficiency by keeping a close eye on your data. If you have a BEMS system or energy management software, real-time alerts that detect unusual consumption behaviour, such as the HVAC system running overnight, can help you take appropriate and swift action to prevent the situation getting worse. If you have access to dashboards, use them to establish transparency around consumption; this can help if you are trying to change consumption behaviours in the workplace.

Establishing these good practices now to continue into next year and beyond will offer carbon reduction benefits and help keep consumption low to mitigate any further unit price rises.

2. Energy legislation

With a General Election which could be set for May 2024, there will be ongoing uncertainty around current legislation and awaited updates.

Recently, the UK Government announced some policy changes that may have an impact on your business’s approach to net zero or how it manages any compliance commitments.

The changes to the Government’s green commitments announced by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, included a delay on a ban of new diesel and petrol vehicles to 2035, an exemption to phase out fossil fuel boilers by 2035 – pushed back from 2026, and the delay of changes to Energy Performance Certificates for domestic properties. However, the mission to be net zero by 2050 remains, and the Prime Minister has confirmed his attendance to COP28 where he has promised to “set out the next stage in our ambitious environmental agenda”.

On the other side of the fence, the Labour party’s mission is to make the UK a clean energy superpower. Their plan is to cut energy bills, create jobs in the sector and deliver energy security with cheaper, zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

The Liberal Democrats however, plan to invest in renewable generation so that Britain gets 80% of its electricity from “green energy” by 2030.

The long-term future of energy legislation entirely depends on who wins the next election, so for now you must continue working to any legislation you do now.

3. Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

We already know that those businesses in scope for ESOS have extra time to complete their submission with the Phase 3 deadline pushed back to 5 June 2024. If you are one of those businesses, ensure your data analysis is up to date as the 12-month consecutive period data must include 31 December 2022 and that window will soon be closed. Make the most of the delayed deadline and appoint an ESOS lead assessor in good time.

Revisit previous ESOS recommendations, or reports from DECs and EPCs, and investigate the possibilities for implementing energy efficiency projects; there may be some low cost or free opportunities that could provide payback in the short term.

4. Make an energy saving plan that suits your estate

Most businesses have adopted new ways of working over the past couple of years and many employees have settled into hybrid working. However, in our experience, we see that building occupancies, whilst lower than in 2019, tend to fluctuate. Businesses are much more agile now and occupancy peaks and troughs throughout the week will cause energy usage to change dramatically from one day to another.

Does your building work efficiently to match this?

Any adjustments made when your business first became a hybrid working space may need to be reviewed to ensure that working areas are efficient when at full capacity and not wasteful at minimal capacity. It might be worth prioritising an upgrade that implements area sensors for underused spaces and zonal lighting and heating that can be agile along with the workforce.

If you already have temperature sensors, conduct an audit to ensure that they are situated away from draughts or heat sources. If you have an external temperature sensor, check that it is serviced and placed out of the way of direct sunlight or a frost pocket so as not to inadvertently affect your heating and air conditioning use.

5. Achieving some goals

In addition to uncertain energy prices, many factors are currently testing UK businesses, including high interest rates, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, supply chain issues, technology, and the pressing need to address emissions. More than ever, leaders need mitigating strategies to ensure their businesses thrive.

Within the context of the long-term business plan, make 2024 the year that you set some realistic, ambitious and timebound goals that could boost your commitment to a carbon reduction strategy.

To help you achieve your goals, the following key players are crucial:

  • Top level support

You need at least one senior lead for any project to support your goals. Help them understand the full potential; whether it offers financial savings, improved green reputation or enhanced efficiency. Recognise what matters to this individual or group and demonstrate how your goals contribute to this.

  • Estates or facilities

Those who manage and maintain the facilities for your company are a key group of people to engage with when setting energy goals. This group of stakeholders is a powerhouse and will help implement and measure any projects that fall within your goals.

  • Procurement

The decisions made at times of purchase can have a substantial impact in terms of energy use for many years. The need to endorse a ‘whole life’ approach to costing when considering new infrastructure and capital investments will significantly improve energy management outcomes. Working with the team responsible for your organisation’s procurement policy and setting out the energy priorities will go a long way to achieve this alignment.

Embedding good practices to help your business be more energy efficient doesn’t have to be complicated, it can start with some good intentions and some forward planning. Starting soon, even if it is with one or two simple steps, can really pay off in the long term. If you would like further guidance about monitoring your energy, implementing energy efficiency projects or meeting your compliance deadlines, Energy Consultants, like Casey Streat, can help. Start your 2024 business energy efficiency journey today.

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