The energy market is a turbulent one, and a combination of recent events has triggered sharp increases in wholesale prices.
At Aqua Libra Co, sustainability is our top priority. We never lose sight of the global goal to achieve net zero by 2050. This goal is our mission.
In this article, though, as we look at ways to reduce the amount of electricity used in the office environment, we’re focusing on the financial implications of energy consumption. This article is about saving money.
The electricity we use in the UK is generated by:
The UK fuel supply is part of a global network of supply and demand, affected to some extent by almost any political or natural event.
Energy prices are beyond our control. But how we use electricity is down to each of us.
Insulation is about stopping the gaps.
Unless your workplace was built more than 100 years ago, it will most likely have cavity walls. However, it was only in the 1990s that insulating cavity walls in a newbuild became mandatory, although it’s been standard practice since the 1970s. If your workplace was constructed between 1920 and 1990, it’s possible that you have uninsulated cavity walls, which can be responsible for the loss of up to 35% of a building’s heat.
Insulating cavity walls is one of the most cost-effective ways to save heat energy. Materials with low thermal conductivity – for example, polyurethane foam, polystyrene beads, and glass wool – are blown into the cavity via small bore holes. The cavity is filled with these low-density materials and trapped pockets of air, preventing heat transfer by convection.
Installation of cavity wall insulation is defined by the Building Regulations as notifiable building work. If you’re planning on insulating your cavity walls, bear in mind that you’ll need to submit a building notice to your local building control body.
Another option is silica aerogel insulation boards, which are fixed to the surface of an interior wall. Aerogel is a strong, lightweight material, with very low thermal conductivity, derived from a gel in which the liquid component has been replaced with a gas. Silica aerogel panels are effective at a thickness of less than 15 mm, so the reduction in space is minimal.
Gaps around doors and windows can also be responsible for heat loss. As warm air escapes the building, cold air takes its place, causing a draught as it creeps under doors and around window frames.
A traditional draught excluder – a stuffed fabric sausage – can sometimes be enough to stem the flow of cold air into a building. But a more efficient solution is an adhesive strip of foam, silicone, or rubber that attaches to the surrounds of a door or window, reducing the gap and blocking the draught. They’re fairly straightforward to install, and, if done carefully, will last for at least five years.
Is there anything more delicious than the glorious warmth of the sun?
The Earth is warmed and lit by a spectrum of electromagnetic energy from the sun. Approximately half of this radiation arrives on Earth as infrared, with a wavelength of between 750 nm and 1,000,000 nm (1 mm). Infrared radiation is invisible to humans, but we’re familiar with its warmth and medicinal properties.
Mounted on walls or ceiling, heating panels radiate infrared, which instantly warms solid objects without heating the air between. Walls are warmed up and kept dry, preventing the growth of mould, which is especially beneficial in kitchens and bathrooms. Infrared heating is up to 60% more energy efficient than convection heating, which warms the air close to source and triggers a circular flow of warm and cold air throughout a space. Infrared radiation goes straight to solid objects – like walls, furniture, and people.
Infrared heating panels consume less energy than most traditional heating systems. They require very little maintenance and are 100% recyclable at the end of life.
First of all, make the most of natural daylight. Rather than blocking out bright sunlight and switching on electric lights, why not use light-coloured solar shades, which will simply tone down the glare.
During the winter months, it’s not just heating bills that rocket. Days are short, and we often begin and end the working day in darkness. For much of the season, we need artificial lighting all day, which can be expensive.
Whereas a traditional incandescent lightbulb emits 85-90% heat and only 10-15% visible light, a light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulb emits 20-50% heat and 50-80% light. This means that in order to produce an equal amount of light (measured in lumens), an incandescent bulb consumes up to eight times more energy than an LED bulb. The price of an LED lightbulb is, on average, five times greater than the price of an incandescent bulb, but it lasts about 30 times as long.
Every part of an LED lightbulb can be recycled. But don’t put it in the regular recycling bin. It needs to be deposited at a local electrical recycling centre, which might be a council-operated site or a business such as Tesco, Homebase, or Argos.
If you have problems getting employees and visitors to turn off lights when they’re not needed, you might consider automatic lighting that operates by motion sensors. Lights will come on when people are in the room, and they’ll switch off when the room is empty. This set-up is particularly useful for kitchens, bathrooms, storerooms, and hallways.
Let’s take a close look at how we use electrical appliances in the office.
A desktop computer consumes around 0.1 kWh of energy per hour. In the course of an eight-hour working day, that’s 0.8 kWh.
When a computer is in sleep mode, its energy consumption falls to around one third (0.033 kWh). So, if a PC is left in sleep mode overnight, it will consume approximately 0.53 kWh of electricity during those 16 hours. At the current rate of £0.28 per kWh, you’re paying £0.14 for each desktop computer to be in sleep mode overnight. That’s £0.56 per week (assuming PCs are shut down at weekends) and £29.12 per year (52 weeks).
Multiply this figure by the number of desktop computers in your workplace to find out how much sleeping computers are costing you each year.
Turning off all computers at the end of each working day saves a lot of energy and a lot of money.
If you have a dishwasher in your office kitchen, make sure it’s completely full for each cycle. And use the eco setting, which is a longer cycle, using cooler water. This may seem counterintuitive, but most of the energy used by the dishwasher goes into heating the water, and comparatively very little is used for powering the sprayers.
The same principle applies to washing machines. If your workplace has a washing machine, the eco setting is the most economical. Heating the water takes a lot more energy than turning the drum.
When fridge and freezer seals get old, they become worn, providing inadequate insulation. A fridge or freezer with a worn seal will consume up to three times the energy it’s designed to use. If your equipment has broken seals, it’s advisable to replace them.
When it comes to water dispensers, Aqua Libra Co products are all designed to conserve energy. Ultra-efficient refrigeration, smart-reporting technology, and a patented twin boiler all contribute to low energy consumption. The Aqua Pure filtration system eliminates all limescale for full functionality and longevity.
To talk to us about energy-efficient water-dispense systems, give us a call on 0800 080 6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to talking to you.