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With business looking for ways to reduce operating costs, Scott McGavin looks at how even small adjustments to a building’s HVAC systems can make a significant difference to bills.

Did you know for every 1ºC of overheating, your heating costs rise by 8%?

That statement comes from a report published in December 2017 by the Carbon Trust, a mission-led, not for profit organisation which seeks to educate building operators in more effective control of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems in order to improve sustainability and energy efficiency in their buildings.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning can account for the majority of money spent by an organisation on energy, so it has to be worth looking at ways of reducing this energy use because even small adjustments to these systems can significantly improve the working environment and at the same time, save money.

It sounds easy, but just how does a small to medium-sized business fund these improvements?

Scott McGavin Scott McGavin Controls specialist

Control your bills

If you take just one thing away from reading this article, it should be that there are things you can do right now to help with efficiency and cost savings in your building, and the main one is effective use of HVAC controls.

In the UK, we can sometimes face all four seasons in one day.  Our buildings therefore need heating and cooling systems that are able to cope with the vagaries of the British weather, whilst still delivering comfortable places to occupy.

Although some small to medium sized businesses premises may choose to have heating only (given the UK climate), cost savings can still have a large impact on capital costs.   

At the same time, the increased use of IT and other equipment is generating a lot of heat within our buildings making a stronger case for some form of cooling – and this is where careful controls can avoid wasting energy – and therefore adding to running costs.

The best HVAC systems work together to create and maintain a healthy and comfortable living and working environment and with advances in technology, systems are readily available which automate much of the control.

These include room sensors that monitor the temperature of the people in the room and also shut off systems when a room is empty to save energy.

Time to take control

Many modern air conditioning and ventilation products also include cloud-based control systems that can allow companies to monitor and control from anywhere.

This monitoring element will become increasingly important as it allows you to track your energy use and identify where further potential savings can be made.

When we look at the rising prices of energy and fuel, building operators need to find ways of maximising the benefit to their business of every pound they spend. 

The Green Business Fund

It sounds easy doesn’t it, but just how does a small to medium-sized business fund these improvements?

That is where a special fund from The Carbon Trust can help as this is aimed at helping small to medium businesses with their sustainability and energy efficiency requirements.

The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund is the energy efficiency support service for small and medium-sized companies in England, Wales and Scotland.

This provides direct funded support through energy assessments, training workshops, equipment procurement support and up to £5,000 capital contribution per company towards the purchase of energy saving equipment.

Even a quick browse of the website will provide businesses with free information on simple examples that can be done, through webinars and case studies.

Beyond that straightforward advice, the funding could mean up to £5,000 towards a new lighting system for your warehouse, heating and air conditioning equipment for your offices or a controls system for your factory - to help you rise to the challenge of becoming a greener business.

So how can businesses apply?

The fund is aimed at small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in England, Scotland and Wales. SMEs are defined as such if they meet 2 out of 3 the following criteria:

- No more than 250 employees

- Annual turnover not in excess of £25.9m; or

- Annual balance sheet not in excess of £12.9m

- and if they are not more than 25% owned by an entity which does not meet the criteria.

Franchises are also eligible providing they have a different registered company number and are a separate legal entity to their managing partnership.

All services are fully funded through the Green Business Fund so carry no cost to applicants.

Whilst the hope is that all recipients of funds carry through with any of the energy saving opportunities identified, there is no obligation for each company to follow through, so all it takes to identify the best ways of reducing costs is a little of your time.

The benefit is much better control of your energy bills into the future, coupled with greater control of your internal environment, so … What are you waiting for?

Scott McGavin is a controls specialist at Mitsubishi Electric  Living Environment Systems in the UK.

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