How technology can help businesses be greener

Adopting new, efficient technologies is an easy way of being greener.

We all have a part to play in helping preserve the environment, and even the smallest of changes can help make a marked difference over time.

Adopting new technologies can be a quick and simple way to go greener, and the good news is that there are possibilities for every budget as more options come to market.

But where to start? Below we look at four easy-to-use technologies that will help to both save the planet and save you money.

LED lightbulbs and motion sensors

One of the quickest, cheapest and easiest green energy switches you can make is moving to LED lightbulbs. Whilst they are more expensive upfront than a regular filament lightbulb (approximately three to four times more), they use about 8x less power, and will last around 20x longer.

Over it’s lifetime an LED bulb would cost about £19 in energy to run, compared to around £150 for an incandescent bulb (on an energy rate of £0.16 per kWH). You’d also need to buy 20 incandescent bulbs to cover that time – and that means more cost and material waste too.

Added to the type of bulb, it’s also worth looking into smart lighting. It’s common sense to turn the lights off when you leave a room to save energy, but on business premises this can easily slip employees’ minds. Fitting motion sensors can be a good way around this, ensuring that lights are only on when they’re genuinely needed.

Fitting your own renewable energy sources and intelligently managing your usage

If you’re still reliant on an energy provider that uses carbon intensive sources, then no matter what changes you make , your carbon footprint may not be as good as it could be. To counter this, you could consider looking into your own sources of renewable energy.

One great example is fitting solar panels, especially if you have a building with a large roof. Once in place, these will work as a hybrid source of power. If it’s a dark day, the system will revert to the mains grid for power, but if it’s clear and sunny, the panels will feed power back to the grid or feed it into a battery system, meaning you can either use it for another time or get paid for the energy you don’t use. So, over the course of a couple of years you could end up making money from the energy generated, all whilst reducing your carbon output too.

Smart meters and app controlled appliances are also a quick and cost effective way of monitoring and regulating your energy usage. Smart meters can alert you to when your energy usage is peaking, helping you to track down energy intensive appliances that you may not know about. Remote controlled central heating is also another great way of making sure you’re only using energy when it’s needed – especially useful considering business premises may not always be busy, owing to the new prevalence of flexible working.

Moving to the cloud

If you’re a business with many office-based workers and a large IT estate, switching to cloud computing is an effective way of saving energy.

Traditional IT requires substantial physical infrastructure like servers and networking, and running this consumes energy. Cloud computing reduces this hardware you need to operate, alongside removing the need for eventual upgrades, meaning businesses don’t need to replace equipment (which would end up in landfill).

The cloud computing providers also regularly use sustainable energy sources for their data centers, and will often locate these in geographically cooler locations to reduce the need for artificial cooling, which can be a serious draw on power in an office. A Microsoft study found that using the cloud could be up to 93% more energy efficient than using your own IT hardware, and up to 98% more carbon efficient, taking into account hardware upgrades.

Switching to electric or hybrid vehicles

If you are a business reliant on a fleet of vehicles or company cars, switching to electric is a very easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Whilst the higher costs and shorter ranges of the first generations of electric fleet vehicles made them difficult to justify, cost and range are vastly improving, and so too are the number of public charging points. Bear in mind the running cost per km is roughly 5x less than a petrol vehicle, and the initial upfront cost starts to pay off quickly. Electric vehicles are ultimately a great choice for vastly reducing your carbon footprint, alongside your running costs.

For more support on sustainable business practices, and to discover our free business support helpline, speak to one of our Business Advisers by phone, contact form or web chat.

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