Spotlight on saving energy

While most of us are wondering how to get around the hosepipe ban, employers have more pressing matters to worry about. The Carbon Trust, which works with employers to cut carbon emissions, predicts wasted energy will cost UK businesses £570m this summer – 15% of total energy spend.

The Carbon Trust also reveals that more than three-quarters of UK employees now consider it important to work for a company that has an active policy to reduce its carbon emissions. And 85% would be willing to cut their own energy use to help tackle climate change if given guidance from their employer.

Simple measures

So how can HR get involved to make your organisation greener and leaner? Garry Felgate, director of business delivery and external relations at the Carbon Trust, says companies need to help employees adopt simple energy efficiency measures.

“Our research shows that one in four workers doesn’t switch off the lights in a room that is not being used, but nearly all (94%) say they do when they’re at home. Simply by encouraging employees to bring their good energy habits into the workplace, businesses could reduce lighting bills by around 19% a year, not to mention significantly lower their carbon emissions,” he says.

Many employees have a social conscience, so reminding staff of the damage they are doing to the environment every day at work could spur them into action.

Promotional material such as posters or e-mail alerts with energy-saving facts can be effective.

Other simple actions, such as keeping the windows closed when the air conditioning is on and using energy-saving lightbulbs can also reduce costs.

Energy efficient

Some firms are making impressive savings. Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, for example, reduced its carbon emissions by 20% between 2001 and 2005, following a concerted energy efficiency programme with the Carbon Trust. Having invested £14m in measures over the last three years, it is now seeing a cost saving in excess of £8m a year from reduced energy bills.

Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the CBI, says that reducing energy output is all about getting staff on side. “Everyone is aware of their home energy bills rising and the need to help the environment, but employees have to make the link that the same is happening at work,” he says.

Boots, for example, sent energy efficiency literature to employees’ home addresses to help them make this link.

Farrow also suggests having energy efficiency ‘champions’ to monitor initiatives. “If you get employees at all levels to lead initiatives, staff won’t view it as another order coming from management,” he adds.

Energy saving facts

  • Activating the sleep settings of your monitor can save enough energy in an hour to make four cups of tea.

  • Switching off photocopiers at night and on weekends can save enough energy to send 50 faxes.

  • Recycling one tonne of paper (400 reams) saves 15 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil and 31,320 gallons of water.

  • Switching off all non-essential office equipment for one night will save enough energy to make more than 280,000 photocopies.

  • Lowering the temperature by just 1 degree Celsius will reduce heating bills by 8% and save enough energy to print 40 million sheets of A4 paper.

Source: Carbon Trust. For more information visit

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