Companies are beginning to realise the array of benefits that energy efficiency can achieve. As a result, more and more organisations are setting energy-related goals and executing a business energy strategy to accomplish them.
Creating a business energy strategy can be difficult, especially if you've never done it before. The energy landscape is constantly changing, and the techniques that worked five years ago might not be so relevant today. That's why we've put together this list of our top tips for creating an effective business energy strategy in 2021.
Top Tips For Creating A Business Energy Strategy in 2021
Whether your goals are financial or environmental, these tips will help you put together and implement your energy strategy in a way that results in the most significant benefits.
1. Always start with C-level buy-in
Without support from the highest level, any business energy efficiency project is unlikely to succeed. Sure, there are some quick and simple ways to reduce energy use. But, without sustained enthusiasm from the board and senior management, your business could miss out on significant savings.
We always recommend starting with a commitment from your CEO that ties energy into your company's overall goals. An energy policy that outlines your company's energy-related objectives is a great way to do this. Importantly, it doesn't have to be long or complicated. Keeping it simple will make it easier to communicate and follow effectively.
When you're ready to create your own, check out our guide to writing an energy policy for your business and use our template to get started.
2. Assign energy management responsibility
To prevent energy management efforts coming to a standstill, we recommend assigning responsibility to somebody in your organisation. Some organisations opt to hire an energy manager, and other organisations give the responsibility to a senior executive.
Outsourcing energy management to a consultancy is another option for businesses. A consultancy typically consists of a team of energy managers with a vast amount of experience at planning and executing energy management projects. However, be aware, energy consultancies will have other clients. Therefore, they will not be 100% focused on your business and won't always be on-site to offer guidance, analysis or training.
Whatever you decide, assigning energy management responsibility to an individual or a team will demonstrate that energy efficiency is a top priority for your business.
3. Monitor your energy use with the right software
Energy is one of the most significant cost areas for companies. Still, it's one of the few costs that's often not monitored correctly. Many companies lack the right systems for accessing their energy data quickly and in a way that provides actionable information.
Monitoring your energy use is essential if you want to understand how your organisation currently uses energy and make plans on how to optimise usage. Energy data also allows you to make comparisons between sites and identify unexpected or inefficient consumption. With the right tool, you can also set alarms on specific areas to receive updates when you are using too much energy.
If you're in the process of putting your energy strategy together and you're not already tracking your energy use, we recommend you start as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure you have all the necessary information available to create the most informed strategy.
Your energy supplier may have provided you with a tool to see your energy use over time. However, if you want to derive real insight from your data, you'll want to invest in a professional energy analytics solution. Using a specialist energy management software solution has a wide range of benefits. We at Surple specialise in energy management and analytics software. Our software allows you to monitor all of your utilities in one place and can identify unexpected usage automatically. Check out our Product page if you'd like to read more about how Surple could benefit your business.
4. Consider renewables and clean energy technology
There are two main ways to reduce the amount of energy your business needs to purchase from the grid. One is to reduce the total amount of energy your organisation uses, and the other is to invest in technology that can help you generate power on-site.
Businesses that aren't considering on-site generation and other clean energy technologies could be missing out on significant cost and environmental benefits. It's also arguably, the best time to invest with the costs dropping dramatically in recent years. Some clean energy technologies to consider for your business could include photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, biomass boilers and renewable heat pumps.
Clean energy technologies also have additional benefits. Firstly, they can help your business position themselves advantageously in a time where governments worldwide are setting strict carbon targets. For example, the UK government recently passed legislation to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. With businesses accounting for around 18% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, it would be impossible for the UK to reach these targets without getting them to reduce their impact. Businesses that do not commit to reducing their impact will likely face strict financial punishments, so it's worth considering renewables now to get a headstart. If your business is based in the UK, check out The Energy Legislation Hub to keep an eye on the regulations you need to comply with.
5. Keep key stakeholders engaged
The secret to a successful strategy is engagement within the organisation. As we've discussed, this needs to start at the top with senior management buy-in. However, this must be supported by effective and continuous communication throughout the rest of your business.
Your businesses employees are the most important stakeholders when it comes to your energy strategy. This is because it would be impossible to execute efficiency projects without their engagement.
There are several ways that companies can boost employee engagement with energy strategy. For example, you could share energy data internally to encourage friendly competition between departments. You could also provide more formal education and training around energy efficiency.
General Electric's famous 'energy treasure hunts' are probably the most successful example of a company engaging their employees with energy-saving. The company regularly invites its employees to participate in examinations of facilities to find inefficiencies and recommend improvements. Over the past ten years, GE has conducted more than 300 hunts across its businesses and partners, saving $150 million.
Developing a business energy strategy can be difficult, but these tips should make it a little easier. Remember though, the energy landscape is constantly changing, and there will always be new ways to increase energy efficiency or to reduce your businesses environmental impact. Therefore, it's vital that you review your strategy regularly to keep seeing the best results. Good luck on your energy-saving journey!
Further reading: Practical Guide to Business Energy Management »