Are You Ready to Turn Down the Heat?

Are you worried about the rising cost of Winter fuel bills in your School or Business?

As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to fall, our thoughts turn to the winter ahead and the inevitable rising amounts on our fuel bills. The cost of energy starts to rise as demand increases, with the days getting shorter, nights getting longer, and boilers running for longer, we need to think about how we abate these costs.

Powerful Allies Director and Energy Reduction expert says: ‘Virtually every time I walk around sites conducting energy efficiency reviews, I’m amazed at how many classrooms and offices have their windows open and heating on and find myself asking, why? Many rooms don’t have thermostatic valves fitted to radiators. Those that do are generally turned up to full, whilst some staff complains of their rooms not getting nearly as warm as they’d like.’

Did you know that a ‘cold office’ is the number one office complaint from staff members? Mind you, a workplace that is too warm can be equally distracting and lead to your staff feeling lethargic or unfocussed. 

We all know that keeping staff, clients, or students at a comfortable temperature can have a positive effect on productivity and wellbeing so it’s in your interest to get it right. 

Do you know your audience?

Younger people naturally run at a warmer temperature compared to the older generations. Therefore, if your office is full of energetic uni-graduates, or if you work at a School, then you can afford to turn the thermostat down by a few degrees, however, if your ‘target audience’ is slightly older you may want to warm it up a little to make them more comfortable. 

How do you keep your Staff warm and costs low?

Here are some simple quick-wins that you can implement, generally at zero or low cost, if this scenario resonates with you:

  • Check your thermostats are set correctly. This is such a common mistake that people make and it doesn’t take long to put right and start saving those pennies. If you are unsure, set it at half-way for a day or two and see if it’s too hot/too cold. Never set them fully open.
  • If your buildings have thermostats or building management systems (BMS), check that they are set at 19 – 20 Celsius. Reducing your thermostat by 1 degree will be barely noticeable to staff but will reduce your energy bill by up to 8%! 
  • If you’re finding your workspaces too warm, try to keep windows closed but turn some radiators off instead (where possible), to prevent overheating. As tempting as it is, opening that window will let all that hot air out and the room will become cold really quickly, then when you close the window because of the chill, it will take a lot of energy to get warm again. 
  • Report faulty radiators and valves to your maintenance staff or service provider. The sooner you get faults fixed, the quicker you can get on track with your heating schedule. 
  • Have the heating system balanced, this will restrict flow in areas that get too warm and increase flow in those areas usually starved at the end of the heating circuit.
  • Where the heating pipes make the room too warm, even with the radiators turned down/off, insulate the pipes, so other areas can benefit, and reduce overheating and opening of windows.
  • Check for cold draughty windows or door leaks, which allow cold winds to infiltrate on the windward elevations, or the heat to be drawn out through on the leeward elevations, you may wish to create draught lobbies.
  • Ensure insulation is adequate by checking the roof during hard frosts or snow. If the roof quickly defrosts, or is clear of snow and frost when others aren’t, it’s a good sign your energy is literally going through the roof!
  • Try reducing the time the heating is on; start 30-minutes later in a morning and switch off 30-minutes earlier in the evening. Ensure the rooms and offices are not set to the same time and temperature 7-days a week, if only used for 5-days.
  • If your site is heated by gas, try to renew and fix your Energy contracts in advance, at the beginning of summer. As temperature rises and demand for gas drops, prices decrease, so it’s a good idea to lock in your energy prices for future contracts at this time of year. 
  • Check door closers work correctly to keep drafts at bay and avoid the heat escaping. Make sure external doors are kept properly closed where possible. 
  • Monitor your energy use – remember the old saying if it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed. Actively managing your energy usage is the best way of keeping track of you spending and being able to make positive reductions. 

What’s next?

Raise awareness of your energy-saving campaign! It’s all well and good putting actions and policies in place, but if you don’t tell anyone about it then how can you be sure that the actions will be carried out? If you are part of a small team then a group email, posters or meeting may suffice. If you are a larger team or implementing a plan across multiple sites, it can be a little more challenging. We recommend using a few different techniques to get everyone on board with going Green in the workplace. Here are just a few ideas for you, but you can get as creative as you like: 

  • Hold a ‘Town Hall’ meeting to discuss your Energy policy. 
  • If you have multiple sites, hold in-house competitions to reduce energy output at each site. 
  • Create ‘Eco Clubs’ and ‘Green Ambassadors’ within your team to help lead the way on your energy-saving targets.  
  • Make tea and coffee readily available for your staff to keep them warm, which may stop them from reaching for that thermostat. 
  • If your office is a relaxed environment, you could allow staff to bring in their own slippers, jumpers, hot water bottles etc to use in working hours.

Best of luck with your Energy Reduction campaign and do let us know how you get on. We offer on-site energy audits for our clients so please get in touch if you think this will be beneficial to you and we will be happy to help you reduce your energy consumption and start making savings.