LED lighting top tips

Jack Pokoj

Posted by: Jack Pokoj

LED lighting can greatly reduce energy consumption.  Here are some of our LED Lighting top tips:

  • Survey your lighting and calculate the annual cost of running your lighting for each area. This will identify priority areas for changing as well as those areas where no change is required
  • Work out how to measure the energy consumption before and after the solution is implemented. Take weekly meter readings or use a sub meter on the lighting circuits if possible.
  • Try behavioural change 1st and modify the cost calculation according to the new usage pattern.  Its best to try behaviour change 1st since it will impact on the ROI for new lighting.
  • Select reputable suppliers for a shortlist.  This will reduce the issues with the new lighting if it doesn’t last as long as promised
  • Allow the shortlisted suppliers to carry out their own surveys and propose a new solution.  A 1 for 1 replacement might not be required and lighting controls correctly applied will further reduce energy usage.
  • Choose an appropriate lighting colour.  Your current lighting will be yellow and you can choose a new colour more appropriate to your working environment.  Using daylight coloured lighting will provide a more attractive working environment in offices.
  • Select a new supplier and implement the solution.  Measure the change in energy consumption and confirm the savings have been realised.

Auditel can offer to undertake surveys, assess the financial case and recommend suitable suppliers. Contact us if you are interested in seeing the benefits of investing in LED lighting, not only as a way of reducing electricity costs, but also in improving a working environment.

Energy Efficiency

<br /> Luisa Keig

Posted by:
Luisa Keig

BP forecast last week a slow-down in energy demand for advanced economies in North America and Europe. Fuel efficiency in developed economies was cited as the reason for the predicted slow-down.

BP’s chief economist, Christof Ruhl, said ”Put simply, people are finding ways to use energy more efficiently because it saves them money.”

So we should all congratulate ourselves shouldn’t we? We’re all more conscious of what we are using, we’re turning lights off more, taking electronic products off stand-by perhaps, all the things we’ve been told over the years to do is in the main getting done. And perhaps some of us are self-generating (solar panels, heat pumps, wind turbines etc) thus reducing our need to ‘buy’ energy. Whatever we’re doing it’s good news, as not only are we saving money, but it’s good for the environment – the less energy we use the less carbon we emit.

This comes at a time when there is so much controversy around how the World’s nations will produce energy in the future – Nuclear scares most people; Oil/Gas stations aren’t popular as they are considered ugly; Coal power stations pollute the environment; There’s criticism from environmentalists over the extraction of Shale Gas (fracking); Tidal and hydro power are thought to destroy wildlife …. the list goes on and on. There seem to be so many opinions on energy production and no-one knows which way politicians will go next. So the aim to reduce the UK’s dependency on imported energy seems a long way off, and certainly not one that you and I can solve today.

One thing is for sure though – energy efficiency IS being taken seriously and will have a direct effect on slowing future demand. So maybe we should give ourselves a quick pat on the back for what we’ve achieved so far, and then look to see what else we can do to be even more energy efficient.

Oh and by the way, if you need any advice on how your business can be more energy efficient, give us a call.

ARTICLE: BBC News – BP forecasts slower growth in global energy demand http://ow.ly/sM2p5

Fracking: What the fracks going on?

<br /> David Powell

Posted by:
David Powell

With the Government announcing that local councils who back fracking will get to keep more of the proceeds from operations in the UK, we thought it might be worth taking a look at the state of play, so to speak.

Fracking is a controversial and hotly-discussed topic in most of the industry and for every 10 people, there seem to be 15 opinions on the subject.

From an impartial, emotionless standpoint, there are many, many reasons fracking seems like a “must do” rather than a “maybe”, and it seems that the whole subject is another example of eye-popping, jaw-dropping images and conjecture clouding and misinforming the general public about the ‘risks’ involved in fracking… After all, which makes the better story, “Fracking could save consumers a little bit on their bills“, or “LOOK AT THIS TAP SPRAYING OUT FIRE!!!“?

The long and short of it is that we need a solution to the current quagmire in which we find ourselves. We are ridiculously over reliant on importing energy, and the import figure is rising.  Renewables are a great way to push us towards self-sufficiency, but there is major investment needed (which, frankly, should have begun YEARS ago, as it did with many countries, most notably, perhaps, Germany).

So where is the energy we use coming from? The Gridwatch website is brilliant. If a little confusing at first…

Without looking at the ‘dirty’ generation elements and focussing solely on ‘renewables’:

  • Wind Energy currently provides about 7.8% of our daily grid demand for Electricity (including unmetered farms, therefore an estimate).
  • Hydro Power accounts for 1.4% of this daily need (worryingly, as the Gridwatch site states, this could be higher were it not for stations intentionally reducing their output to maximise subsidy rates)
  • Biomass contributes 2.14%, however much of this comes from importing timber which, whilst qualifying it as ‘sustainable’, hardly seems far to take into account with a goal of ‘Self Sufficiency’ in mind, does it?
  • Solar is, as expected in our tropical British climate, infinitesimal in the scheme of things, and massively weighted to summer months. Estimates are in the region of 0.25GW’s, therefore less than 0.5%, on generous estimates

That, from ‘renewables’, gives you somewhere in the region of 15/16% of our daily demand for electricity. In real terms, unless you are happy with blackouts for (in the region of) 20 hours a day, every day, then we need to find our energy from some other source.

The protesters may have some of their facts correct but there are upsides and downsides to all energy sources all of which seem to cause the same people to object:

  • Wind – ugly
  • Solar – ugly
  • Biomass – save the trees
  • Nuclear – aargh Chernobyl
  • Coal – let miners keep their jobs, but shut down all the polluting power stations please.
  • Hydro – reservoir destroys beauty spot and kills fish, allegedly
  • Gas/Oil – yet another ugly power station blighting the landscape
  • Shale – caused an earthquake in Blackpool and you can set fire to water
  • Tidal Power – destroys habitats of estuary birds

Microgeneration is likely to provide the long term solution (i.e. micro turbines, solar panels and ground source heat pumps on every new home/office development), but at present, this is a long, long way off and requires the concentration of everyone in the UK all at once… This, historically, has been somewhat tricky to achieve in any area, let alone something as complex, taxing and confusing as Global Energy Management… Apparently, even Eastenders is struggling to do that these days!!

There is an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of extractable Shale Gas in the UK, based on the latest estimates.  We already have many operations licensed for on-shore drilling in the UK as it stands and this practice began in 1919. Surely, at the very least, this possible solution requires some further investigation? Yes? With things settling down in the US and them becoming a net exporter of energy for the first time in decades in 2011, Shale Gas looks like a very viable, and if properly regulated, safe way of reducing our dependence on Import until we get something better off the ground. Plus, environmentally speaking, the net effect of extracting Shale Gas in the UK is not likely to be as ‘Dirty’ as our current solution, which is to buy fossil fuels from the cheapest source we can.

If the choice was “do it with renewables” or “do it with fracking”, the choice is obvious… renewables it is… That, however, is not the choice… it’s just another part of the energy mix and it’s better to use our own resources in the UK than to pay ever increasing prices for importing energy and when our energy runs out be held to ransom by other countries. So more of everything please.

 

 

2014 Energy Market, ‘Flat and Flatter’ and the value of 3 Year Deals

<br /> David Powell

Posted by:
David Powell

With all the recent brouhaha regarding Energy over the back half of 2013, we thought it would be worth giving our thoughts as we go into 2014 on the energy market in general and some of our reasoning.

Regardless of what the perception is, the market is flat. It’s flat now, and it’s been flat for a while. Today’s pricing is almost exactly the same as this time last year. The difference between the commercial market (which energy companies buy at AND sell to businesses at) and the domestic market is what causes the confusion here. We sit at home watching our bills go up and the news telling us about price increase after price increase, but, not to labour a point, the wholesale market is flat. In fact 5 of the Big 6 have announced price decreases for domestic tariffs in the past month but you’ve not seen that on the front pages have you! The press are as much to blame for perception of increases.

The domestic market lags behind the commercial market for many reasons, which we’ve written about in the past.

As it stands, long term deals seem to be more productive at the moment, which, again, regardless of perception, is unusual (but not unheard of). Energy companies have to build in a lot of uncertainty into long term contracts. Usually, the gut feel is you have tended to pay in the region of a 10% premium for this. Historically, this has not been far away from what we have experienced over the years. Currently, however, we are often finding that the cheapest annualised contract price is actually the 3 year deal, the graph below is a genuine client’s tender results:

Jan14-Energy-Blog-Graph-102

So, what could be causing these oddities and the pricing anomaly?

  • The Pressure?  There’s no doubt (and little coincidence) that the furore started by Mr Miliband in August (and now carried through by almost everyone within 50 miles of the Commons) had the respective PR machines at the Big 6 pushing the overdrive button. However, this long term pricing strategy seems far more considered and reasoned than just a good old fashioned knee jerk. Have Ed’s claims to control the energy markets borne fruit, purely by stimulating the market forces he derided in the first place?
  • hale Gas? Very soon, and for the first time in a LONG time, the USA will be a net exporter (in around 2 years) of energy and British Gas have already begun to purchase future supplies from them in anticipation. Is the Middle East’s stranglehold on pricing coming to a close?
  • ‘Green’ tariffs going into general taxation?  Much has been made of this in the recent press, with the energy companies themselves coming out in support of the exchequer funding the UK’s clean energy drive. Is this just ‘story swapping’ as the ‘Price Freeze’ tub-thumping runs its course?

There are also many other factors at play here, but the general message is that all of the aforementioned point to energy suppliers themselves feeling the market will stay flat or actually trend down over the next 3 or 4 years, barring any major disasters and/or conflicts.  This may, or equally may not, be borne out, but that is the gamble energy companies take with this pricing strategy.

All this speculation could lead you into thinking you might be better off leaving this to the experts… I’d certainly agree with you there!

 

 

British Gas announce an end to rollover contracts

Nigel Collins

Posted by: Nigel Collins

Following the July announcement by British Gas to end rollover contracts, there will no doubt be sighs of relief from procurement managers, FDs or business owners previously trying to avoid missing the 90/120 day window in which termination had to be given. This of course applied to SME contracts and not Corporate contracts which have a different set of terms and conditions; curious then that the tweet came from the Corporate division.

As always, there are caveats within the terms and conditions which buyers will need to be aware of. Although contracts no longer rollover, we don’t yet know how much higher the variable rates will be than the contract rates so it is still important to manage the process. Notice to leave British Gas is still a requirement and if the account is not paid up to date or notice has not been logged, this could result in an objection to the supply leaving being raised.

Whilst this may be a welcome change, I don’t see it reducing our workload!

One last word of caution; contracts ending before 1st September 2014 can still rollover.

Business Energy – are you among the 24%?

<br /> Adam Thomas

Posted by:
Paul Copsey

Many businesses complain that there is little or nothing that can be done to offset the rising cost of energy which appears to be a constant year on year battle as the big six energy companies embark on a seemingly continuous round of price hikes.

The year on year increases are often brought into painful focus as energy users face the annual renewal of the contract price for energy – assuming that the business has put their Utilities into contract with a supplier, which in a surprisingly high number of cases has not happened.

In a recent survey by the energy provider Eon, a startling 24% of Chief Executives of SME’s do not concern themselves either with the provision of business energy contracts or taking leadership in reducing the amount of energy used within the business. This apparent apathy is often seen in businesses which are non-manufacturing who see that the energy cost is an unavoidable tax on the business.
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How to buy Green Energy for Business

<br /> David Powell

Posted by:
David Powell

A recent survey of very high value energy purchasers (up to £17m per annum) revealed that as few as 19% of them had “buying Green Energy” on their agenda.

On the surface this is worrying but, as is often the case with journalistic licence, it isn’t the full story.  A further 32% suggested they would consider going green, but only for little or no additional cost. The survey itself actually shows the real figure they found was  51% (19% + 32%) who had “buying Green Energy on their agenda”… So “Most”, then…The negative 19% figure is a better headline than what is likely the real truth. The caveat that it needed to be cost effective doesn’t take it off the table, does it?

A little deeper thinking around those figures can give you some further insight… Depending on how full or empty your glass is, so to speak.  With whom does the job of putting green energy on businesses agendas lie?  There are many answers to this, but in our opinion, the most important one would be the suppliers.  Is the survey suggesting that the remaining 49% of high value buyers, given a choice between green or non-green (with cost removed from the equation entirely) would still choose traditionally sourced supplies?  We don’t think so… and our maths suggests that green energy CAN be on the agenda for 100% of high value buyers… Importantly, at the right price.

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Smart Meter strategy comes of age

<br /> Michael Jones

Posted by:
Michael Jones

Ofgem’s recent consultation on ElectraLink’s proposed expansion regarding electricity-related activities is an important piece of the jigsaw in the strategy for the roll-out of Smart Meter. It also demonstrates a growing maturity of the model. The proposal was generally accepted by the Energy providers, with few if any caveats.

ElectraLink is a company that is wholly owned by the DNOs. It was originally set up to comply with DNOs’ obligation under their electricity distribution licences to provide data transfer services. These services enable energy sector companies to share data safely and efficiently. They also help utilities deploy and ensure interoperability of smart meters.

ElectraLink, which operates in the electricity, gas and water sectors, would like to expand beyond its core activities and get involved in a number of commercial opportunities enabled by the roll-out of Smart Meters. These opportunities arise from the considerable amounts of data, and therefore detail, that ElectraLink hold from the Data Transfer Network, linking the main actors in the utility industry. They know, for example, which companies are losing or gaining customers and can sift data by multiple criteria: postcode, meter type, profile class and several others.

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An Eye on Energy

<br /> Stephen Gaubert

Posted by:
Stephen Gaubert

There are simple ways to reduce your setting’s power bills.

The cost of energy for all businesses is rising continuously. Irrespective of the prices in the wholesale energy markets, energy costs will continue to increase over the next decade to finance upgrades to the UK’s energy infrastructure and the push towards renewables. However, for early years settings, energy is one of those overheads where costs can be managed and reduced.

There are two aspects in managing your energy costs:

  • Smarter purchasing.
  • Managing your usage through energy efficiency measures.

Contracts

Let’s start with energy supplies. Unlike the domestic market, business energy is subject to contracts, which will normally be on a one, two or three-year basis. The first step is to make sure that you diarise when the contract ends. It’s essential to know your termination window and give notice in time.
The renewal process is a complex one and differs between each energy supplier. When you receive a renewal offer from your supplier, seek to get a better price. All the main energy suppliers have websites where it’s easy to get a quote. Some degree of negotiation is usually possible.
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Energy Prices and Delusion

Tim Halfhead

Posted by: Tim Halfhead

On Saturday I met a Conservative MP whose primary message was that things in our teetering economy are improving. The media just choose not to report them. As evidence, he cited the February new cars sales increase (7% year on year) and falling unemployment figures. When asked what the Government was doing to help the consumer, he made much of the commitment to hold down energy prices for households (there was no mention of business).

Yesterday gas prices hit a 13 month high. 5 coal fired power stations are being closed in the next few months to satisfy EEC environmental regulations, taking about 17% of the capacity out of the National Grid. The head of Ofgem has said that these will have to be replaced by gas fired stations over the next few years because any increase in nuclear capacity is at least 7 years away.

Wind farms are costing us, not saving us and as we all know only contribute when the wind blows.
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