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Energy efficiency improvements for small businesses

A member of the Green Deal Upgrade team outlines some of the measures that could improve your business's energy efficiency credentials.

Whether you run your small business from home, an office, or a warehouse, there are multiple energy efficiency improvements that could be made to your workspace. Making these ‘green’ changes can help to save your business money, reduce your carbon emissions, and protect your business against rising gas, oil and electricity prices in the future.

There are energy improvement options to suit every budget, energy requirement and building type. Furthermore, many of the energy saving measures you might consider have Government funding or grants associated with them, meaning you can minimise upfront installation costs. No matter the industry you operate within, there will likely be a handful of energy improvement options that you could consider implementing, for example:

  • Air source heat pumps (ASHPs):
    ASHPs generate heat and hot water for businesses by absorbing the heat from the air outside the building, and delivering it into the building for the central heating or hot water. They are ideal for off-gas grid businesses, businesses who wish to reduce their energy bills, and buildings with low energy efficiency ratings. ASHPs are also a cost-effective alternative for new sites, when compared to installing new gas mains. Although ASHPs use electricity, if designed correctly they deliver three times more heat than the electricity used to power the heat pump, and are still considered a renewable energy source which qualifies for the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • Ground source heat pumps:
    Ground source heat pumps absorb low level ground heat by pumping water through a looped pipe buried underground. Ground source heat pumps can provide your business with continual low level warmth, which is perfect for larger workspaces and buildings. They have higher energy efficiencies than ASHPs, and similarly, require electricity to power the heat pump. These ground pumps reduce operational costs, remove your business’s reliance on fossil fuels and have permitted developmental rights so long as you have sufficient land space for the heat pump to be installed. Ground Source Heat Pumps are also available through the Non-Domestic RHI.
  • Biomass boilers:
    More and more businesses are converting their heating systems to biomass, due to the financial advantages offered by Renewable Heat Incentive payments. Biomass systems provide enough energy for your business’s central heating or hot water supply all year round, by burning fuels such as wood chip, wood pellets and logs. These fuels are far cheaper than fossil fuels. Commercial businesses can achieve sustainability, CSR targets and significant financial energy savings by changing their traditional heating systems to biomass.
  • Insulation:
    Insulating your business’s workspace is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective energy saving investments for your business, with very short payback periods. Ensuring your workplace has adequate insulation ensures that your energy efficiency will be greatly improved just by that simple alteration. Installing cavity wall or loft, external or internal insulation your business building will feel instantly warmer, making the workplace more comfortable to be in. Insulation can also reduce your heating consumption, and considerably reduce your energy bills. There are a couple of Government funded schemes available to help your business to pay for insulation. Find out more about the schemes that your business may be eligible for here.
  • Solar panels:
    Solar panels are a good investment for commercial or public sector businesses, despite the high initial set up costs. Businesses would be able to benefit from free, 100% renewable solar power that can provide your business with electricity.  Commercial solar PV has a high yield energy capacity and is virtually maintenance free for up to 25 years, and for most premises, requires no planning permission. Your energy saving is further enhanced by the Government Feed In tariff scheme – a fixed rate of payment for every unit of energy created from the solar array for a minimum of 25 years. Businesses can use energy onsite, dramatically reduce energy costs, become green and sustainable, protect themselves against rising electricity prices and quadruple their capital investment due to the Feed In tariff scheme.

Biomass, ground source and air source heat pumps all qualify for the commercial renewable heat incentive throughout their 20 year lifespan. However, to qualify for the RHI scheme you will need to undergo a Green Deal assessment. This assessment will evaluate your business’s heating requirements and occupancy levels, so that a tailor-made plan can be constructed. This plan will contain suggestions of the most cost-effective energy improvements and their predicted savings for your business, so you can choose the measures that are suitable for you and your small business. There may be a number of grants and schemes that may be suitable for you, so explore your options, and see how you could improve the efficiency of your small business.

Green Deal Upgrade are energy saving experts who are passionate about helping businesses become greener and utilise the Government funding available to them. You can connect with Green Deal Upgrade on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: Photo courtesy of Sean Dreilinger on Flickr.

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