Energy Efficient Lighting/Controls
Lighting is a significant cost within an office and substantial savings can be achieved from simple policy implementations to installation of new lighting:
- Raise a “switch off” policy to the staff, from just switching off all the lights if they are the last person leaving the office to ensuring they switch off lights that aren’t required to be left on e.g. empty meeting rooms. If there is the need for certain lights to be left on it may be possible to simple put coloured stickers onto the light switches indicating which ones to be left on. Put up stickers and posters reminding people to switch off when suitable.
- Install new energy efficient lighting for example LED or T5 lighting to replace old inefficient lights.
- If possible also include lighting controls, passive infra-red presence/absence detection. These work particularly well with LED lighting as the light comes on instantly and it doesn’t reduce the light life. Ideal areas for these controls are meeting rooms, toilets, kitchen areas and finally storerooms.
- For the corridor/stairwell areas there is also a function on new lighting where if they don’t pick up movement the light dims down to a predetermined level and reduces its energy consumption.
- Include day light dimming for lights that are near windows. The lights will dim down/switch off as the natural day light enters the building and lighting levels increase.
- If there is an external car park area, arrange for a photocell to ensure the lights are only on when lighting levels are low, then incorporating a time clock to ensure the lighting isn’t left on when not required.
Heating can account for up to 40% of the total energy costs within a typical office environment and possibly the hardest area to achieve sufficient savings and also keep the workforce comfortable. For every 1◦C can reduce fuel consumption in a typical office by 8%.
- Carry out a simple survey and ask the workforce their opinion of the heating levels. This will help to identify any areas that are over heated, under heated or draughty. It maybe that there is maintenance that need addressing and this can resolve some issues highlighted e.g. Broken Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs).
- When heating a property only heat it to a required level that is suitable for the type of work that is being carried out. An area where staff is carrying out manual labour won’t require the internal temperature to be set as high as people who are sitting down. Also take into account that there will be internal heat gains from equipment from the area and staff. Therefore set the heating a degree or two below the desired temperature to maximise savings.
- Encourage staff to dress for the conditions. In general visitors will be dressed for the external weather conditions.
- Create a dead band where there isn’t any heating or cooler on. Typically this can be 19◦C – 26◦
- In commercial or industrial buildings where there are high ceilings it may be worthwhile investigating the option of installing de-stratification fans to blow the warm air at high level back down to ground level where it is needed.
Heating Time programs
- Ensure that you are not heating the property outside of working hours, of course during the colder spells you will need to have suitable preheat to ensure the property is at a suitable temperature for when the property is operational. This can be done via a simple time clock on the boiler and adjust accordingly.
- Install a Building Energy Management System (BEMs) with an optimiser and compensator this will then calculate the required preheat period in the morning and adjust the boiler output accordingly via the temperature being recorded from internal and external sensors.
- Insulate exposed pipework and valves within the plant-room. This will reduce heat loss and lower energy costs.
- Certain types of buildings will have a cavity wall. This cavity can be filled to improve the insulation of the building fabric. There are three types of materials used in the UK, with the most popular being mineral wool insulation. The other types of material used are polystyrene beads and foam – either polyurethane or urea formaldehyde foam.
- Other buildings maybe solid wall, this type of wall can let through twice as much heat as a cavity wall. Solid walls can be insulated either internally or externally. Internal wall insulation can be done by fitting insulation boards to the wall. External wall insulation involves applying a layer of insulation material to the wall and then covering it with a suitable type of render or cladding.
- If the property has an accessible roof space or a suspended ceiling it may be possible to insulate this area to reduce heat losses. It maybe that there is already some insulation present but it could still be topped up. Even if the property has a flat roof this can also be insulated internally or externally.
- Fit draught excluders to windows and doors where applicable. This can be done with inexpensive self-adhesive draught excluders. This will reduce heat loss and improve working conditions.
If the boiler is approaching 20years old it may be worthwhile to replace the boiler with a modern condensing boiler, or carry out a feasibility study to install a biomass boiler. The advantages of a biomass boiler include:
- Benefit from Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) payments for a period of 20years.
- Operational cost savings.
- Reduced fuel price volatility.
- Improved energy performance rating for the building.
The disadvantage is the initial setup cost, the need for a storage area for the biomass fuel and may require having a backup boiler also (fuelled by an alternative fuel).
This is an energy saving technology that is mainly installed in series with the mains electricity supply to produce a reduced supply voltage for the site’s electrical equipment. This technology works better with certain equipment than others and a feasibility study should be carried out before investing in this technology.
Solar Photovoltaic (solar PV) is where solar panels absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. An invertor is used to change the current from DC to AC. This can then be used directly on site and if there is any extra it can be stored in a battery or sold back into the grid. The efficiency of a PV system is depending upon the direction and angle of the panels.
Solar Thermal uses the sun’s heat to warm up water or a fluid in the collectors that are fitted generally to your roof. This is then used to help to heat up water in the hot water cylinder. This system is ideal where there is high demand for hot water.
Wind turbines works on a simple principle. The energy in the wind turns propeller like blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the main shift, which spins a generator to create electricity.
Heat Pumps there are two types of heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps.
- Ground Source Heat Pumps are pipes that can be buried into the ground either vertically or horizontally, they circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze around the pipe which is called a ground loop. They then extract the heat from the surrounding area and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. The benefit of ground source heat pump is that the ground remains at a constant temperature all year round. It also benefits from Renewable Heat Incentive.
- Air Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the outside air – just like a fridge removes heat from itself. The heat is concentrated to a higher temperature by a heat pump. They can be extremely efficient whereby for every one unit of electricity used, they produce 3 units of useful heat. There are two types of air source heat pumps, Air to Water and Air to Air pumps. The air to water can be used for space heating as well as hot water whereas the later can only provide space heating. ASHP do benefit from Renewable Heat Incentive.
Combined Heat and Power
Combined heat and power (CHP) is an efficient process that captures and utilises the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process. This heat would otherwise been produced by a conventional boiler. Ideally a CHP will be sized to match the base heat demand of a site during the warmer months ensuring maximum efficiency and not on the electricity load. Installing CHP may qualify for Climate Change Levy Exemption, Enhanced Capital Allowances and Business Rate Exemption. If the CHP uses eligible renewables the heat produced from the CHP will be eligible for Renewable Heat incentive.
Where a property has a large roof space it may be worthwhile carrying out a feasibility study on the installation of rainwater harvesting. This is where simply the rainfall is collected from the roof space via the guttering and is directed into a storage tank underground (has a mains supply also in case the tanks needs topping up). The stored water can then be used for flushing toilets/urinals.
Climate Change Levy
The Climate change Levy (CCL) is an environmental tax to encourage the business owner to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner. The CCL is paid on electricity, gas and solid fuels. The charge is highlighted on the businesses energy invoice.
CCL is applicable if your business is in one of the following sectors:
- Public services
It is not applicable to supplies where:
- Business that uses small amounts of energy
- Domestic energy user
- Charity engaged in non-commercial activities
Fuels that are exempt
Electricity, gas and solid fuel are normally exempt from the main rates of CCL if any of the following apply:
- they won’t be used in the UK
- they’re supplied to or from certain combined heat and power (CHP) schemes registered under the CHP quality assurance (CHPQA) programme
- the electricity was generated from renewable sources before 1 August 2015
- they’re used to produce electricity in a generating station which has a capacity of 2MW or greater
- they won’t be used as fuel
- they’re used in certain forms of transport
Pay a reduced rate
You can get a reduction on the main rates of CCL if you’re an energy intensive business and have entered into a climate change agreement (CCA) with the Environment Agency.
Energy intensive businesses can get a 90% reduction for electricity and a 65% reduction for gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal and other solid fuel.
The latest CCL rates and further information can be obtained from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-climate-change-levy