Editor’s note: MarketGreener has accepted some guest posts by the good folks at uSwitch, a utilities price comparison Web site aimed exclusively at businesses to help them save money on electricity. This and the last post are from uSwitch.

Areas to investigate
These are three areas which are worth looking at, because they can be simple to organise, can save money and don’t require much effort to operate as schemes.

1. Energy use

A few simple procedures can make a significant difference to how much energy the business uses and so pays for.  If it’s possible to introduce an energy monitor, it will be easy to show this.

Heating and lighting are simple to tackle, as it takes little more than a bit of thought to save energy.  Office equipment uses a lot of energy, so introducing a few simple procedures will make quite a change. Get people to:

  • Turn off lights in empty rooms
  • Keep doors and windows shut when the heating is on
  • Turn off PCs, photocopiers and printers at the end of the day
  • Use any power-down or sleep mode functions the PC has
  • Unplug phone chargers when mobiles are charged

For increased energy savings:

  • Leave plenty of space around radiators, as putting furniture in front of a radiator means it will need to work harder to heat the room
  • Unless it’s really cold, try to keep the thermostat at 19°C.  Heating costs go up by 8% each time the temperature is increased by just one degree
  • Don’t heat unused space, such as corridors or storerooms
  • Turn off or reduce the heating whenever the workplace is empty
  • Replace bulbs with energy saving ones
  • Invest in ‘ecobuttons’ – for a few pounds, this gadget will put a PC into an energy saving mode with a simple press of a button

2. Recycling

Business recycling is growing.  A number of organizations are now accepting and even collecting recyclable waste from companies.  Find details of recycling services local to you.

Items which can generally be recycled at work very easily include:

  • paper and cardboard
  • plastics
  • printer cartridges
  • drinks cans

Find out what can be recycled by other organizations and arrange some collection points at work.  These might include:

  • mobile phones
  • old computer equipment
  • textiles and clothing

If your business produces a significant amount of a particular type of waste, see if the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) or US Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD) can find someone who can use it.

Find out what else can be recycled at Recycle Now.

3. Travel

Travel initiatives can make a significant impact on an organisation’s carbon footprint.  Ideas to include in a travel policy at work include the following plans.

Car sharing
, where two or more people travel by car together for all or part of a trip, can cut down on travel costs and reduce carbon emissions.  On an average day on British roads, each vehicle carries 1.6 people, with approximately 38 million empty seats.  For many people, it may reduce the stress of the daily commute and other may feel an increased personal security when walking to and from the car.

Car clubs
, which provide members with access to a vehicle on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Vehicles are usually parked close to homes or workplaces. For some people, joining a car club and having access to a car means they don’t need to own one, which could be a consideration in saving money.

Cycle to work schemes,
where employees are encouraged to cycle, saving money and getting healthier.  It may be possible to introduce a scheme for employees to buy tax free cycles through work. Cyclescheme explain how it works. For other ideas about cycling schemes, Wikipedia Community bicycle program has a number of useful links.

Alternative transport for business travel can be introduced.  Some companies in London give employees Oyster cards as a practical alternative to company cars.  Others give rail cards, which the employee can use for personal as well as business travel.

More efficient company cars could be used. These can help reduce carbon emissions and local air pollution, and will often save money on vehicle tax and other charges. A fuel efficient new car could also save the equivalent of three months’ worth of fuel over a year.

Most people are happy to be involved in environmentally friendly initiatives.  If you can get schemes off the ground, you probably won’t need to convince most people to take part.  But you probably will have to make them aware that they have been introduced!  If you do, you will find a great deal of support and make a real difference to your place of work.

This article was produced by uSwitch For Business a utilities price comparision website aimed exclusively at business’s to help them save money on their electricity bills.