How employees can help reduce your energy costs

By Ken Warner, MD, Energy Renewals

As a major outlay, energy bills are continually on the minds of bosses yet an effective and well managed energy consumption reduction plan not only lowers a company’s carbon footprint, but can have a huge impact on costs.

But the people you really need on board are your people.  Without the input and commitment of your employees, an energy reduction plan is doomed to failure.

Simple measures such as taking it in turns to make tea for everyone rather than boiling the kettle multiple times; turning lights out such as in store cupboards or in the staff toilets; ensuring the heating and air-conditioning aren’t on at the same time; and ensuring both are on timers so they are not working at night or early in the morning or evening when people have yet to arrive or have finished for the day, are all impactful.

If you’re putting together a policy to reduce energy consumption in your workplace, your first step is to communicate with your employees. Consider setting up a committee or working party made up of people who want to make a difference to the environment and help the company reduce its energy consumption.

Just implementing a few basic measures should give any company some quick wins. The equation is pretty straightforward: reduce consumption and less energy is used, the lower the energy usage, the lower the energy bill.

For businesses looking to take their employee engagement and environmental policy to the next step, you can take a leaf out of the book of Brunel University London which recently launched an incentive scheme for staff to help reduce its carbon footprint.

The university has implemented an employee engagement competition known as the JUMP pilot project, operated by sustainable rewards scheme supplier Green Rewards. The scheme encourages employees to take part in a range of energy saving activities within the workplace like those mentioned above, but also on a wider scale such as sustainable travel and waste reduction.

Teams and individual staff members whose endeavours save the most energy are rewarded with vouchers for outlets such as iTunes and Marks & Spencer each month whilst the winning team is able to make a donation to one of three charities – WaterAid, Macmillan or Breast Cancer UK.

Such incentive schemes rewards ‘good behaviour’ but also develops a sense of healthy competition between teams and encourages wider participation. It becomes a win-win for everyone, including the wider environment: staff are motivated, have some fun and are rewarded for their efforts whilst reducing energy consumption will impact the organisation’s energy bills bringing costs down.

Encouraging employees to reduce energy consumption could save UK workplaces more than £300 million a year, according to a study by The Carbon Trust back in December 2013 so it’s well worth putting a strategy in place.

Of course, it’s also just as important to report back to staff on the results their efforts have achieved so you can track progress and encourage even more energy consumption reduction. So for those who don’t ‘win’, they can still appreciate their impact of reducing their carbon footprint at work.

For those companies looking for some inspiration, we’ve researched some ideas on how to develop a more energy efficient workplace. Have a look at this guide from one of the biggest utility companies which includes tips such as creating ‘green champions’ and making your energy saving plans ‘official’. There’s also some great advice from British Gas such as making your energy efficiency goals part of your company’s ethos, being realistic about achievements and making employees aware of your ambitions, how they can help achieve them and your results. And for employees who want to make changes to their personal lives, this article makes useful reading and shows how small individual efforts can have a massive overall impact.

There’s a wealth of advice out there, but ultimately you can only measure an energy reduction programme by first understanding your usage and identifying key areas where you can see some quick gains and by continual reporting to track achievements. An energy reduction programme is likely to deliver immediate results for companies which currently have very little in place, but constant monitoring will ensure you continue to make strides in the right direction and give you greater control on energy costs.

If you’re struggling to implement an energy reduction strategy or you need expert advice on auditing usage, devising a programme and on-going management, contact us and ask to speak to myself Ken Warner or our energy specialist Graham Borét.