In June last year the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming with a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Major companies are beginning to announce their plans to reach this target, but businesses of every size across the hospitality industry can start playing their part now.
As a sector we consume huge amounts of energy each year – around 20,910 GWh – enough to power 1.2 million homes. But government reports suggest 4,300 GWh a year could be saved across the hospitality industry by investing in energy efficiency measures and improving business practices.
This month we look at some of the top tips for cutting waste and reducing your bills, plus we explore how smart meters are changing the way small businesses can manage their energy without calling in the experts.
Energy efficiency: a win-win opportunity
The Carbon Trust suggests saving energy is one of the simplest ways to increase profits in the hospitality industry. Whilst energy costs may only account for a small percentage of your overall turnover, they say that taking simple steps to reduce your energy bill means you can increase revenue without the need to increase sales.
And it’s not just about cutting waste and saving money. As customers become increasingly aware of the impact their favourite pubs, restaurants and hotels are having on the environment, staying on top of energy management in your business has never been more important.
5 ways to cut energy waste in your business
- Heating and hot water
- Heating and hot water can account for more than 60% of energy used in a hotel. Check the temperature of guest rooms against recommended temperatures: 26°C to 27°C for guest bathrooms when in use and 19°C to 21°C for bedrooms.
- Set appropriate hot water temperatures – excessive heating of hot water is wasteful and can be dangerous for staff and guests. The optimum temperature for stored water is 60°.
- Keep your boiler in check; an efficient boiler can save you as much as 5% on annual heating costs.
Cooking equipment and extractor fans don’t need to be on for an entire shift. Encourage staff to switch off or turn down equipment when it’s not in use. Try labelling equipment with its preheating time so your staff only switch it on when they need to.
- Regularly defrost and clean fridges. Check and replace door seals on cold rooms, fridges and frozen food stores. If fridges only store drinks, turn them off after hours.
- Appoint enthusiastic staff members as energy champions; training staff in energy management can reduce energy use by up to 30%.
- Lighting is a fundamental element of any hospitality business and is often seen as an uncontrollable cost. Yet by implementing lighting controls and efficient bulbs, lighting energy costs can sometimes be reduced by up to 50%.
- If you haven’t done so already, switch to low energy bulbs. Compared to a standard bulb, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) use up to 60% less energy, produce less heat and last 8 to 10 times longer. LED lights are easy to install, use up to 80% less energy than halogen bulbs and give you around 50,000 hours of light.
- Also consider movement detectors, time switches and daylight sensors, and encourage staff to switch lights off when they’re not needed.
- Air conditioning
- For all hospitality businesses, the provision of fresh air at a comfortable temperature is critical to guest comfort and satisfaction.
- However, do not let heating and cooling operate at the same time. This is a common problem in hotels, pubs and restaurants and can be avoided by setting a temperature ‘dead band’ – a wide gap between the temperatures at which heating and cooling cut in.
- Ensure you clean ventilation systems regularly. This can help increase efficiency by as much as 25% compared with unmaintained systems. Keeping fans, air ducts and parts clean will also reduce running costs and the risk of a breakdown.
- Monitoring your energy consumption
- Remember the old adage, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Asking your supplier to install a smart meter means you can request access to your energy data to see patterns in usage and monitor unexpected spikes, for example high gas use in summer.
- No more estimated bills: smart meters will automatically send your consumption data straight to your supplier, ensuring you only pay for the energy you use.
- The data from smart meters can help you to keep track of energy costs, giving you the information you need to budget and manage cash flow.
Want more great advice to support your energy management plan? Click here to download the Carbon Trust’s complete guide to energy efficiency in the hospitality sector.
Spotlight on smart meters: what can they do for the hospitality industry?
Energy is rarely a top priority for time-poor staff working in hospitality. But by not engaging with energy bills, Ofgem say small and medium-sized businesses end up paying more than they should compared to larger firms. The smart meters being installed across Great Britain can make it easier for small businesses to make a difference, unlocking the potential of energy data without the need for any in-house specialist expertise. They are also essential for the upgrade of the country’s energy grid, helping to pave the way for new services and technologies like solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles.
To support the rollout of smart meters to the hospitality industry, the government is funding the development of smart energy management innovations – like apps and web platforms – that turn energy data into tailored energy saving actions for pubs, restaurants and hotels. These innovative tools are currently being tested by small businesses across the country and are already having an impact:
- Increased awareness of energy use among staff
“The staff are now more aware of the electricity cost that this business is dependent on. Now they are more understanding of why I want to save electricity bills, and how much we can save.” – Takeaway operator, Leicester
- Data-driven decision making about the business operations
“I like lots of data, it takes away any biases or subjective perceptions – if staff tell me one thing I can point to the data and it doesn’t lie… all this data can help me with decisions, like: can we change the way we operate the kitchen? Does one menu use more than another?” – Pub chain operational director, London
- Relating energy saving and cost to service
“The stats are very helpful – to be able to calculate cost per food cover or per room would be very useful. The ‘potential saving’ feature as well is a good incentive.” – Hotel chain manager, London
To find out more about how smart meters could benefit your business, or to arrange an installation, get in touch with your energy supplier.
The Carbon Trust’s Hospitality sector energy saving guide
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Innovation for smart energy management in non-domestic sectors case studies
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Energy Consumption in the UK, 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Building Energy Efficiency Survey, 2015
- Hospitality – Saving energy without compromising service, Carbon Trust, March 2012
- Food and drink processing – Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust, March 2012
- Hospitality sector energy saving guide, Carbon Trust, 2018
Ofgem, Micro and small business engagement survey, 2018 report.