How does your business manage its Carbon Footprint?

We all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint by being more aware of our impact on the climate, so what can we do to reduce this and be more environmentally aware of the world around us but also prepare our businesses for the change?

What is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is defined as the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, businesses, the production of food, manufactured goods, transportation, buildings, the list is endless but essentially it is anything that produces carbon dioxide and methane and through the emission of burning fossil fuels.

It is difficult to measure our exact footprint with so many variables to consider, however there are a few ways by which we can reduce this in our businesses by using (for example ) insulation to reduce energy waste and switching lighting to LEDs, these are just a few ways to quickly and easily achieve energy reduction and thereby reducing your carbon footprint.

How can I make my business energy efficient?

Talk to an expert about reviewing your energy supply, getting advice on how you can switch to renewable energy is one of the easiest ways of making a big reduction to your energy bills and your carbon footprint.

What about the equipment we use on a day to day basis?

All businesses will use equipment that helps them run, however have you thought about the footprint these machines make? Replacing devices such as computers and printers to more energy efficient ones will greatly help reduce this and save you money in the long term.

Use timing devices to optimise your heating and cooling systems. Energy can be wasted if these systems are not being used correctly, costing you more money. Consider installing a building management system to regulate temperatures in different areas of your business such as an office space and server rooms.

Recycle and Reuse

Put a sustainable plan into practice and engage your employees by encouraging them to reduce water and lighting by turning taps, switches and devices off when not in use. Purchasing recycled paper reduces carbon emissions and refurbished phones and IT equipment is another way to reduce your carbon footprint. Deceasing single use plastic is another easy way to help you stay sustainable.

So, are there ways your business can reuse or recycle plastic?

There is a lot to consider and to action on the path of being carbon friendly, it can be overwhelming for a business to implement changes and gaining the full support of everyone involved. Seek help from an experienced broker who can help and provide you with an achievable plan.

We could all do more to make our planet a better place to live and work and taking a few steps to make positive changes is one way we can reduce our footprint and help our climate.

Take advice from a reputable broker who can guide you through government legislations and provide you with ideas on how to make your business more energy efficient as well as save your business money on its energy bills.

UK Energy Management have been providing businesses with expert advice and guidance since 2010. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you with energy efficiency.

Renewable Energy Sources – What are they and how are they converted?

Welcome to our first blog of 2020, in this post we wanted to explore some of the different types of renewable energy sources out there and how they’re converted to the everyday energy we use.

We tend to only think of electricity being generated through oil, coal and gas but renewables are fast outpacing traditional sources. So, let’s look at how renewables are paving the way for cleaner, greener energy.

According to new research, renewable sources provided more electricity to homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time last quarter, it is the first time that electricity generated from windfarms, renewable biomass plants and solar panels from the UK have surpassed fossil fuels since the first plant opened in 1882. It is testament to the effort that is being put into reducing our carbon footprint and making more use of natural resources.

So let’s take a look into some of the forms of renewable sources.

Wind Power

Wind turbines capture the natural wind in our environment, this in turn is then converted into mechanical energy. Wind farms are strategically placed in areas where it can generate the most energy. The turbines convert air motion into electricity, the blades on the turbine are connected to a electro magnetic generator and electricity is generated when the wind causes the blades to spin. These blades are connected to an electro-magnetic generator that produces the electricity we use.

The energy produced from wind is clean and has no direct carbon emissions and plants can run on low operational and maintenance costs.

Solar Power

Solar energy is the most plentiful source in the world, solar technology converts the sun’s heat or light into a form of energy. It is a renewable resource that doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases in its generation process and its popularity has grown over the years with many businesses and homes adopting their surroundings to accommodate the technology that allows them to produce cleaner energy. The panels work by absorbing the sun’s heat and light with photovoltaic cells which generate direct current (DC) energy, it is then converted to usable alternating current (AC) energy which in turn through an electrical panel is then distributed through our homes and businesses.

Water Power

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and the energy harnessed from moving water is to create electricity. The two most common water technologies Hydropower and Tidal Power

Energy produced from water is considered a renewable source as it uses the Earth’s water cycle and gravitational pull to generate electricity. A Hydroelectric power plant would use a dam to store water in reservoir. The water would then be released, flow through to the spinning turbine activating the generator to produce electricity.

Energy derived from this source does not emit greenhouse gases but is scarcity and conservation can be a challenge that the energy industry faces.

These three sources of renewable energy are gaining more popularity and as we continue to use them more, we encourage others to follow and reduce their carbon footprint too.

Here at UKEM, we embrace greener and cleaner energy sources and champion their use to our clients who can see not only see a positive environmental impact but also a financial one. Get in touch with one of our experts to find out how we can help you achieve this.

Building Management Systems – Using them to effectively control your business

There are a lot of ways that you can make small incremental improvements to your business, processes that over time would make cumulative gains and can be hugely significant to how you manage your company. Energy for example is one process that can greatly benefit from effective systems and controls, allowing you to ensure that you only pay for the amount of energy your business has used.

Small changes equal big savings

All businesses from manufacturing to clerical will use energy intensive equipment, whether it’s machinery or computer servers, this usage adds to the building’s overall energy consumption. By integrating controls and systems together, you can optimise business performance and reduce the energy usage whilst still maintaining business integrity.

How much should we spend to optimise our business output?

Talk to an expert who can guide you through the options, they’ll be an initial outlay but seeking advice from a professional can be beneficial, they can assist in finding a system for you or even suggest changes that can be made to your current environment. Your energy manager will even be able to suggest government grants that your business may be eligible for. Taking the right advice will reduce costs and energy usage and improve productivity.

Some simple changes can go a long way

There are a few changes you can make that can benefit your business such as linking your heating, and air conditioning systems. When managing your internal environment, consider the external conditions, ask an energy expert to look at your tariffs as day and night rates differ and it might be beneficial to your business to utilise energy intensive processes at the most cost-effective times.

Which system should I use?

Sourcing a BMS system to meet your specific needs and business goals can be a time-consuming process and it is far more practicable to speak to an adviser who can assess your needs and provide you with a tailored solution. Ongoing monitoring is also essential, and your adviser will be able to manage the installation of the system as well as provide ongoing support to make sure that it delivers your business objectives, reduce your energy consumption and maximise performance.

Is your business looking for a business management system?

Talk to us about your needs and we will arrange for a professional who will make an assessment on your requirements and suggest the right BMS for you. By choosing the right system, you can access real time data, take control of your energy consumption and make analytical decisions based on accurate information.

Get in touch with us today to find out more.

The UK’s rapidly changing electricity system and how it could benefit you!

Over the years, the way we use electricity has changed, we’re more conscience of our own obligations to the environment and are using electricity which is generated using low carbon sources such as nuclear and wind power. Moreover, we are now able to generate our own electricity for our homes and businesses by using solar panels. With all this technology making it easier for us to use energy, how do we keep a track of how much we’re using?

“Accurate data could save the UK billions”

The introduction of smart meters has helped consumers take back more control of how much their homes and businesses are using and as we look to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, we then turn our attention to other ways of using clean energy such as running our vehicles. The popularity of electric cars places new demand on the grid, which is why it needs an effective data and communication system that could save the UK £40 billion by 2050 and meet its carbon reduction targets.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, has up to £1.9 million to invest in the development of products and services that will modernise data services in the energy sector. Now this is a competition with many stipulations, rules and regulations such as showing regard for data security and to be flexible and easy to use (among other things), but essentially it aims to solve the fundamental problem of exchanging digital energy information between energy organisations and with other stakeholders by supporting the development of products or services which can later be commercialised and employed to solve similar problems elsewhere.

“An ambitious project but one which will help the energy sector greatly”

With £1.9 million up for grabs, projects that are being put forward must demonstrate how they can accelerate the development of tools and processes which will not only modernise data services for the energy sector but also help the UK to meet it’s target of achieving net zero emissions by further reducing our reliance on using carbon for heat, power and transport. An ambitious project but one which will help the energy sector greatly.

This investment and the eventual development will lead the UK into a future where we can meet our climate obligations by providing cleaner energy to businesses and homes alike but also accurately measure the amount we are using. Its an exciting time for the energy sector and here at UKEM, we’re keen on helping businesses take advantage by providing assistance to ensure that they’re billed accurately and are also compliant with new legislation.

Talk to our experts for help and guidance on how UKEM can help save your business money.

How AI can help with Energy Management

Have you ever thought about how AI can help your business? This would have seemed impossible in years gone past, but more and more companies are looking at technology to help them control the infrastructure of their businesses.

I don’t know about you but when someone mentions AI to me I think of Skynet and Terminators crushing human skulls underfoot. NB: this blog hasn’t been written to coincide with another new Terminator film!

But the key point of those films, that humanity should fear Artificial Intelligence, is a real fear for many, even if it is more related to the loss of their jobs as computers are able to do them faster, better and cheaper!

Take energy management for example, using a program to monitor energy usage would in turn mean that your business only pays for the consumption it uses. It can learn to control and predict energy usage that can help save money on one of the largest outputs of any business.

So what is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence is any technique that enables a computer to copy human intelligence but also learn statistical techniques to enable a computer to perform a task more efficiently so that it processes data more quickly.

What do we think?

Here at UKEM we feel that technological advancements are positive, indeed a necessity, to provide us with the sustainable, clean and cheaper energy that we all want. Computers have been a key part of energy efficiency for many years and are now fully embedded in the way we analyse energy usage and indeed predict our behavioural patterns towards our consumption.

In the future when AI has truly arrived, we could have near perfect use of our energy resources guided by computers able to analyse and direct in milliseconds and to design more efficient production and storage of energy. However, that is the future, a future which won’t happen instantaneously overnight but rather by gradual progression.

And this is the real key point for us to consider, that AI doesn’t just mean what we hear in the movies but rather the ongoing development of smarter computers and programming that will make it easier for you to meet your energy needs in a green and cost-efficient manner, as well as being ready to meet the tougher legislation that governments are already introducing to reduce carbon emissions.

At UKEM we see our understanding of the technology available both now and going forward as one of the key pillars of the service we provide to our clients. Through understanding your needs and circumstances we will make you aware of the options available to you now and which offer your business value for money.

However, any energy strategy we put in place is reviewed to take into consideration your changing needs, changes in legislation and of course technological advances. That’s why we build long-term relationships with our clients as one of the key advisors to your businesses.

We can provide you with free impartial advice on how to run your business in a more energy efficient way so why not get in touch?

Energy – Only Pay For What You Use

As your business grows so does the expense of keeping it running so how do you make sure that you’re paying the correct amount to your suppliers?

Take energy for example, bill calculation errors can be very costly for businesses and consumers alike and there is a high probability that checking bills manually can lead to mistakes, meaning you could be paying for more than you should.

So how does bill validation work for businesses?

Your energy broker will provide you with a service whereby your bills are checked against your consumption, energy contracts, government taxes and levies; making sure that you pay the correct amounts and for the correct use . But it is also essential that historic charges are also checked and any amounts that have been overcharged are reclaimed through audit checks. We spoke to a few businesses to understand how it has helped them.

“Bill Validation has saved us so much money”

“An essential part of our business was establishing and utilising energy management services. Using bill validation has really helped us save money and time.

Our bills are checked to make sure that we are only using the exact amount our business has consumed and any discrepancies are then dealt with through our broker and the energy supplier. Like most businesses, our time is limited to dealing with our customers and ensuring the smooth running of the company so to have someone completely independent who knows what they are doing and is able to efficiently expediate matters on our behalf really has helped. We’re completely focussed on our business without the added distraction of dealing with the utilities because we have left these in the hands of an expert

“Our bills just piled up and we hadn’t realised how much we had been overcharged”

“We hadn’t thought about using an energy management company before, everything was dealt with in-house. However, running a business and dealing with the back-office processes, specifically utilities always ended up at the bottom of the pile. We hadn’t realised how much our energy was costing us until we had an independent review done by a reputable firm who undertook a thorough audit of our historical bills. We soon discovered that we had been paying for energy we hadn’t even used and were delighted when we were told we could reclaim a refund from our supplier. Had we not had this review done, we would never had realised that we were paying too much and since then our broker has been able to negotiate a better deal for our energy supply and we now know exactly what we’re paying for, thanks to the ongoing monitoring undertaken by our broker”.

These are just a few of the clients we have helped, it is vitally important that a business of any size considers using services such as bill validation and auditing, not only can it help you obtain better energy deals but it can monitor and provide ongoing support. Energy prices fluctuate greatly and it can be difficult to understand the terminology which is used to describe your usage, using someone who understands this and who is able to secure the best rates only proves invaluable to your business.

UK Energy Management have assisted businesses with bill assurance, historic audits and ongoing monitoring, our expert knowledge in this field has helped many companies secure better energy deals by utilising these services.

Contact us for assistance and guidance on your business utilities. Our advice will cost you nothing and we could save you money in the future.

Why is Energy Expensive?

Whether for our businesses or our homes, we all want a good energy deal. One that not only supplies cost effective energy but also with a company with a proven track record and good customer service.

“So what factors should we take into consideration when looking at switching suppliers?”

Since Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to cap prices, all of Britain’s top energy suppliers increased their prices. Wholesale gas prices spiked to their highest level in at least 10 years, thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’, while the heatwave had the opposite effect and led to higher than demand electricity.

Weather plays a major part in the way we consume gas and electricity, our consumption for gas peaks during the winter months whilst when we do have spells of a heatwave, our need to cool down by means of air conditioners and fans puts pressure on suppliers to generate more and keep up with the demand hence price hikes.

“What key factors are contributing to the increase of wholesale energy?”

We’re more reliant on gas imports from liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships and imports from Europe whereas previously we used our own storage facility to inject gas in the summer for us to use in winter which reduced our need for imported demand.

Brexit has also impacted prices, with a weak pound against the Euro, Europe has a greater advantage to import energy from the UK which puts more pressure on supply and demand and increases prices in the UK.

“What about renewable energy?”

Whilst renewable energy is cheap to operate it can be expensive to build and facilitate a functioning plant, location is also a factor to consider (for example special consideration is given to areas where wind can be generated constantly). Choosing the right location helps to maximise the amount of energy we produce. It has taken some time but governments are slowly starting to implement more policies in favour of greener energy with increased growth in renewables, take a look at the renewables obligation as an example of one such policy.

“So what is the cost of going green?”

Green energy tariffs are designed to promote renewable sources, but as we have established, green energy isn’t cheap to run and green tariffs will naturally cost more, however it doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t a good deal out there and we should pay particular attention to when wholesale renewable costs drop because naturally so will the price of green energy tariffs.

“How do I interpret my tariff?”

To the trained eye, checking tariffs is a simple process but for those who are less inclined to look over the small print, it can be a daunting task, especially if you are considering switching supplies or looking to make changes to your current supply. It can be even more of a time constraint if you have multiple premises supplied on different tariffs. A reputable energy broker can provide you with impartial advice and seek better and alternative suppliers for you.

Always consult an expert before you make any decisions about your energy supply. UK Energy Manager has helped businesses across many different sectors secure better energy tariffs and provided them with advice on how to make savings on their bills by making incremental changes to the way they use energy.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday items, enabling them to send and receive data. In laymen’s terms, it’s used to describe the ever-increasing list of objects connected to the internet.

For many, these items are already essential, and we can’t live without them, such as a smart watch, home assistant services like Google and Alexa, your iPad and other connectables are all IoT devices. Whilst most of us embrace these technological marvels, there are some who don’t share our enthusiasm and won’t or can’t connect devices such as televisions, heating and utilities to the internet, but we believe that in the next five years it’ll be affordable, indeed a requirement, for every household to get connected. In fact, by 2020 there will be 31 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things, that’s more than three IoT devices per person.

“The possibilities of IoT are endless”

Now that we are familiar with IoT devices, we’re presented with unlimited possibilities on how we can live a more efficient, connected life. Everyday household items such as refrigerators, washing machines, coffee machines will send alerts to our phones and shop for us, your bed will monitor your sleep and adjust the temperature according to your sleeping patterns. Companies such as Amazon, already make consumers lives that much easier with ‘dash buttons’, allowing them reorder everyday items like coffee and toiletries, all with a push of a button. The possibilities of IoT are endless.

With the world moving to a more connected lifestyle, how do we make sure that the energy we use to stay connected isn’t counteracting all the hard work we are putting into becoming more energy efficient?

“how do we run our buildings and offices energy efficiently?”

Having all your devices constantly connected to the internet does take up a lot of energy, going against the idea of switching off what is not in use, so how can we run our properties’ energy efficiently in this changing environment? For us the answer is by using these very products to reduce energy consumption such as smart light bulbs, heating and lighting that are controlled from your phone. This provides a level of control we haven’t had before because you’re in charge of what you are using, when you’re using it and how much you’re spending on it. Smart buildings can still be green buildings!

Smart offices can be the same through controlling printers, PC’s, heating and lighting in just the same way a smart home can, helping businesses to cut back on energy wastage. It’s always good to continually review how much energy is being used to run your business and what this cost means in monetary terms. Speak to an energy specialist who can assist you by reviewing your bills and advise you on the best course of action.

Does being ‘smart’ mean you’re environmentally friendly?

Yes it does! Well if the humans involved are taking control by using smart products to help the environment by controlling on how much energy you’re using. By being connected you can be more conscious of your role in helping the environment by reducing your consumption but also how you can take control of what can be a big outgoing for your business.

You don’t need a BMS or even a fancy EMS to manage your energy use and environmental impact.

Find out what smart products you can use in your office and how you can reduce your energy usage by contacting us today.

Electric Vehicles – better for the environment? Not Yet!

The common theme through our blogs has been the need to be more energy efficient or ‘greener’. While the short-term motivation may be saving money or avoiding government penalties the long-term benefit is that to our environment and the planet we leave for the generations to come.

One of the chief culprits in the production of greenhouse gases are cars, which sees petrol and diesel cars becoming less attractive and the rise of the electric vehicle. But the question is this new kid on the block better for the environment?

The popularity of the electric car (EV) has undoubtedly increased and the automobile industry has responded (possibly also due to recent penalties for not meeting emission regulations), with some companies basing their entire model of cars solely on electrical charge whilst others offer the hybrid option working off both electricity and fuel.

The idea is that by using an electric vehicle you are moving away from dirty fuels to clean energy. But is this true?

Where does the electricity come from?

While the reduction of the use of fossil fuels in cars would help improve the ‘air’ that we breathe, especially in cities where car emissions shorten life expectancies, the electricity still needs to be produced.

As seen in previous blogs the government and energy producers are increasing the production of clean energy but this is still along way short of meeting the current demand for electricity. So how would the rapid increase in demand for electricity be met? Currently, without a substantial acceleration in the production of green energy, the choice would be fossil fuels.

This is especially true when you consider countries where the consumer may want to move to a cleaner car but there isn’t the political will to move to cleaner energy production. Unfortunately, this includes the USA and China who are the largest producers of greenhouse gases.

Is the move to electric vehicles truly a move to cleaner energy?

The cost of producing electric vehicles and their batteries.

The greater demand for electric vehicles will see their monetary price fall but as things stand the production of electric vehicles results in a greater amount of CO2 emissions than their gas-guzzling counterparts. A high proportion of which comes from the rechargeable batteries which they depend upon for power.

These batteries require the use of materials such as lithium which in their sourcing have a detrimental effect on the environment. This covers areas such as using large amounts of water, damaging the local environment where they are mined, the poor treatment of the miners and those local to production.

Even more ironically, given the aim of using these batteries, is that the materials are relatively scarce. This means that in continuing to use them, especially if the aim is to expand their use, we will need to source them from harder to access areas. One of these is through deep sea mining, which as we already know is a potential recipe for disaster.

Are current rechargeable batteries fit for purpose?

Is there sufficient infrastructure for Electric Vehicles? It’s true, the days of queuing at a petrol station would finally be at an end, but where would you go to recharge your EV? Even with an increase in recharge points the infrastructure is not yet ready for a wholesale move to electric vehicles.

The government and industry would rightly argue that a mixture of consumer expectation on shops and petrol stations, and financial support for councils and home owners, would see a quick roll out of charging points effectively ‘bolting on’ to the existing electricity grid. But this still adds up to a lot of money.

Is building the infrastructure for electric cars now the best way to use that money to benefit the environment?

What we think!

We’re not against the idea of moving towards a world where all cars, lorries, buses, etc. are electric vehicles. We as energy professionals simply question whether as things stand if all these good intentions will have any real positive effect.

We can look back only a few years to when biofuels were seen as the way forward, until that is someone pointed out issues such as deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, increased demand for water, etc. This is the direction electric vehicles are going unless we see more joined up thinking.

Surely it would be better for governments and individuals to focus on the production and demand for the use of clean energy? Redirect the monies going into electric vehicles now to increasing that production so there is enough clean energy to run more vehicles? Indeed, to run them more cheaply than on fossil fuels?

Also, a cornerstone of our increased usage of clean energy is being able to store that electricity. So, a by-product of a larger clean energy industry will be the development of efficient and more sustainable energy storage. Given the right funding, time and regulation, the auto industry will find a way to produce the ‘batteries’ electric vehicles need to be truly green.

Rather than buying costly electric vehicles, individuals and companies should focus on being energy efficient and demanding on the government and producers to provide them with clean energy to consume.

If you are a company and you would like advice on how to be more energy efficient and source clean energy, talk to a specialist, talk to us at UK Energy Management.

Climate Change – How do we play our part to help sustain the planet?

Last month we looked at the Climate Change Levy (CCL) and how this affects your business but what about climate change itself? How is global warming affecting the way people live and work?

Human led warming is now having serious implications for the planet’s climate stability

The global average temperature is about 15C (December 2018) well above the average for the 20th Century of 13.7C. So what’s causing this rise and how can we manage it? Temperatures fluctuate and geological evidence suggest that it’s been much higher and lower in the past, but scientists are concerned that natural fluctuations are being rapidly overtaken by human lead warming which is now having serious implications for the planet’s climate stability.

So what is the ‘greenhouse’ effect?

Like the glass of a greenhouse the Earth’s lower atmosphere traps some of the Sun’s energy, solar energy that should reflect out to space from the surface of the Earth is instead absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases. The energy which radiates back down to the planet heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface. If this didn’t happen, Earth would be a hostile planet to life with temperatures 30C colder. The balance of this essential process has changed, especially over the last century.

As the global population has increased so has the production of greenhouse gases. In particular the emissions from industry and agriculture. The greater amount of gases in the atmosphere means more heat is retained increasing the surface temperature. This is more commonly referred to as global warming or climate change.

Since the industrial revolution began in 1750, the levels of CO2 have risen by more than 30%

Most of our man-made emissions of CO2 are through the burning of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide released through human activities. But since the industrial revolution began in 1750, the levels of CO2 have risen by more than 30%. The proof of the effect of these gases can me seen in the fact that 18 of the 19 hottest years on record have been since 2001.

What action can we take on Climate Change?

You may feel that you can do little to affect this global issue; however, making changes to our everyday use of energy is a good place to start. By limiting the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and carbon and replacing them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy we can increase energy efficiency and help the environment. Setting Targets and creating a “sustainability statement” also shows your commitment; publicly for CSR but this also helps internally for staff engagement and cost saving.

So how do I increase energy efficiency and save the environment whilst still running a profitable business?

Take advice from a professional who can help guide you through the complexities of energy efficiency

With another increase in the Climate Change Levy coming into force on 1st April, now is the time to look at alternative solutions such as renewable energy, making use of cleaner energy from natural sources such as wind and solar will have a positive effect on the climate. Assess your usage and start making changes to your current supply, simple steps like checking the efficiency of your equipment, lighting and heating for example is a good place to start and you’ll be surprised where savings can be made. Take advice from a professional who can help guide you through the complexities of energy efficiency by assessing your current situation and advising you on a solution that can benefit your business financially but also helps reduce the effect of climate change.

UKEM work with suppliers that provide cleaner sources of energy, speak to one of our professionals for impartial advice on how you can make the switch to greener energy, save money and help the planet for a better future.