By Abbie Clarke
It wasn’t long ago that Forbes was reporting America as the worldwide leader in wasting energy. But that’s not to say other countries are doing much better in energy efficiency. We all play a part in this process; homeowners, business owners and corporations. Governments are working for change; in the US, there is the Alliance to Save Energy that recently released the Energy 2030 plan which aims to double US energy productivity, while in the UK there has been set energy efficiency targets that have now been extended for energy intensive industries to 2023. But is enough being done for change? What role do businesses play in energy efficiency, and where can they still make improvements?
Where is energy still being wasted by businesses?
There has been a significant call for businesses to make changes in order to improve their energy efficiency and stop waste. The same issues are being raised: many businesses continue to leave computers and appliances on overnight; lights are being left on when not in use; heating and air-conditioning are still being improperly utilized; recycling of print cartridges and paper is still done through wasteful methods; and so on. To further emphasize this pint, half of energy used by UK businesses is wasted when employees aren’t working. Business energy efficiency should be an issue that relates to individuals from the top to the bottom, and yet it is an issue that continues to go round in circles. So, what needs to change?
Attitudes need to change
According to the DECC Public Attitudes Tracker quarterly survey, the number of people supporting renewable energy in the UK has risen to 82 percent. However, energy-wasting behaviors such as excessive water usage and not switching off lights continue, with only 26 percent saying that they give much thought to saving energy. Then again, this is not just homeowners; this is employees and businesses too. One way that attitudes can be changed is by setting an example; an example of how energy efficiency can work, an example of how stopping the waste of energy can actually save money. What seems to be missing is confidence that these targets set by government and these promises of improving the environment will make any difference for a business owner, or an employee, or a homeowner. But it rests on all our shoulders to inspire this confidence if we are going to stop wasting energy.
Business savings through energy efficiency
As mentioned above, confidence is important if energy efficiency targets are going to be met and actually have any effect. And even though many employers and employees remain unconvinced, there is the case for business energy efficiency. According to Energy Star, many organizations can make energy savings of around 2-10 percent through improved management. But, what many organizations fail to consider is that being energy efficient can actually save them money. Like most things in business once you take a closer look and start asking where improvements can be made, processes are able to be improved and the result is improved efficiency. This is no different for business energy efficiency, where it is often chances in outlook, behavior and procedures that make the difference.
In the long run, a business should aim to keep saving, to stop waste and to keep improving. Only then will we start to see real changes in energy efficiency.
Image credit: Nkululeko Masondo, courtesy flickr