Archive for the ‘LED lighting’ Category

The latest energy statistics show that the average person in the UK is using 10% less energy than they were five years ago, despite a (slightly) growing economy according to analysis from the Energy Savings Trust.

Advances in technology and an increasing focus on energy efficiency seem to have broken the link between growing wealth leading to higher energy use, despite an ever-increasing number of gadgets, larger TVs and so on.

According to the BBC report, EU regulations on household appliances have played an important part, with, for example, the latest A-rated fridge-freezer using 73% less energy than a 20-year old model. The ban on old-style incandescent light bulbs and fast-improving LED lighting technology is also having an impact. According to the Committee on Climate Change, the average household energy bill would be around £165 higher between 2004-13 if these savings had not been made.

Significant improvements in gas heating and hot water boilers coupled with increased loft and cavity wall insulation mean that the typical household uses 25% less gas than 25 years ago.

The overall impact is that the UK’s energy use is lower than it was in 1970, despite the economy being twice the size.

Government energy policies, which have played a vital role in this shift, may not be the most popular (green taxes etc), but this analysis clearly shows the individual and national benefits of proactive energy efficiency – and for most businesses there are still substantial savings to be made.

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New research by the British Council for Offices has found that improving the energy and water efficiency of offices also improves worker productive.

The report states that a more efficient environment creates employee satisfaction, which in turn enhances productivity and business performance. By engaging staff in energy efficiency initiatives employers can improve both energy and staff performance by addressing the issues most important to those employees.

Coupled with another research report that found half of British workers are increasingly energy-conscious at home, but only 20% took the same attitude at work, the arguments for upgrading those old flickering lights and noisy, inefficient air-conditioning units have never been stronger.

A major retro-fitting of Las Vegas’ street lights with LEDs has halved the city’s street lighting costs, while also reducing maintenance time and expense.

The US$20.8 million programme installed 42,000 LED lamps according to a report in Energy Manager Today, and has reaped immediate dividends as the lights are expected to last up to 13 years, with payback for the entire project expected to be between 7-10 years based on annual savings of at least US$2 million.

Los Angeles completed the largest LED street lighting retrofit earlier in 2013, installing around 141,000 new lights.

A number of UK local authorities are also installing LED street lighting, with or instance, Richmond Borough Council in south-west London part way through a LED replacement process.

With LED technology and prices improving monthly the payback period on some installations can be less than a year for light-intensive sites such as hotels, while most commercial sites will see a return on their investment in between 2-4 years.

Around two-thirds of UK businesses use energy brokers or consultants to help manage their energy procurement. Some brokers focus solely on placing contracts, from which they earn a commission or fee, and provide little additional value or service. While this is a valid option, there are several areas where a good consultant can provide significant additional value beyond just recommending annual contracts

1. UK energy prices are volatile: the wholesale energy market can increase/decrease by 50%+ in a 12 month period, so waiting until your contract ends to renew leaves you exposed to significant price surprises. Independent expert advice on the best time to go to market, which is often not just before your current contract ends, can result in significant savings.

2. Contract offers are increasingly complex: the growing number of 3rd party costs (transmission, distribution, metering, Renewable Obligations etc) makes it difficult to compare offers from suppliers all presenting their prices differently. Interpreting these price models so you’re comparing like-for-like is vital, yet requires specialist knowledge.

3. Validate invoices: just as price offers are becoming more complex, so are charges and invoices. Reconciling and checking actual consumption data and pass through charges such as the Feed in Tariff (FiT) with invoice data identifies supplier errors and ensures you’re not overpaying, yet requires specialist systems and expertise available to some brokers.

4. Switch suppliers smoothly: although improved in recent years, switching suppliers can be a fraught process, resulting in punitive out of contract rates if it goes wrong. A good broker will handle this process, saving time and potentially money.

5. Consumption reduction: by analysing meter data to understand consumption profiles, energy consultants can recommend savings opportunities, from low-cost behaviour change to payback assessments of energy-efficient technologies (eg LED lighting)

As most energy brokers/consultants earn fees from the energy suppliers (added to your energy bills), it’s always worth checking exactly what you receive for this indirect fee.

If you’re not receiving at least some of the benefits listed above then do get in touch; Energy & Carbon Management clients receive these benefits as part of their procurement service, with no extra fees, generating savings and identifying opportunities to reduce energy costs.

A recent report by Oxford Economics for the British Retail Consortium found that, despite cutting energy use by 20% since 2008, retailers’ electricity, gas and water costs have increased by 17% since 2010.

The survey reported that while business costs had increased by 20% since 2006 sales increased by just 12% over the same period, resulting in store closures and job losses. While some market sensitive costs such as rents responded to the economic downturn, utility costs had increased sharply.

Measures retailers should look at to curb their energy costs include:

  • monitoring consumption: benchmarking consumption across multiple stores provides the intelligence needed to improve energy efficiency and help staff cut consumption
  • eliminating waste: ensure that heating, air conditioning and lighting controls are set correctly; small changes can make big long-term savings
  • lighting: store lighting is often the largest energy cost for many non-food retailers, so investing in LED lighting can generate a quick payback while also reducing carbon emissions
  • procuring smartly: taking a long-term view to your energy contracts rather than just waiting for each renewal means you can avoid wholesale energy price spikes and reduce the admin workload with co-terminating contracts

Interesting article in BusinessGreen that LED lighting could help cut food waste by emitting less heat and no UV and IR rays, helping food to stay fresher for longer.

According to Sedna.LED, LED lighting can also be used in close vicinity to food, enabling food retailers to light their produce more effectively without reducing its lifespan. The UK’s food waste problem costs businesses and consumers £billions a year, fills landfill sites and increases greenhouse gas emissions, and while LED lighting won’t on its own address this, it could be another benefit, alongside significantly reduced energy consumption, for food retailers to install LED lighting.