Help the environment - and your bottom line

Using energy efficiently will not only help the environment, but could also significantly reduce your running costs, increase your profit margin and help to build a positive company reputation.

Here are nine simple and inexpensive ways to improve your energy efficiency:

  1. Recycle and re-use: if you use a lot of paper in the office, operate a recycling scheme, with boxes in every room

  2. Turn down the lights: implement a company policy of only turning on lights when they are needed

  3. Avoid overheating: by reducing the room temperature by just 1șC, you can reduce your bills by as much as 8%. Aim for an optimum temperature of 19șC

  4. Monitor your monitors: IT equipment is a major factor in increasing energy costs for small businesses. It also contributes to the generation of excess heat. Switch computers and other electrical equipment off when they are not needed. Where they cannot be switched off, set fax machines, printers and photocopiers to standby mode. (Note: while computer screensavers preserve the life of the monitor, they do not actually use less energy)

  5. Maintain equipment: make sure that lighting and heating equipment is clean and unobstructed, to increase its efficiency. Ensure that windows are draft-free to avoid heat loss. If you have air-conditioning, make sure it is serviced and that its use does not correspond with the use of the heating system

  6. Use high-efficiency equipment, such as low energy light bulbs - these last up to ten times longer than standard bulbs, which also waste a high percentage of their energy in the form of lost heat

  7. Go natural: Opt for natural light wherever possible: blocking windows with blinds and turning on artificial lights is costly and often unnecessary

  8. Look for trends: Make sure that the heating is only on when it is needed; if staff open windows, turn off the heating

  9. Consider a loan: interest-free energy loans are available to SMEs wishing to invest in energy-efficient equipment. You may also qualify for help under the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme: visit www.eca.gov.uk.

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