Watts up with energy efficiency? Powering your bottom line in tough times

Oct 30, 2023 | Blogs, Monthly Briefing

In the face of a likely economic downturn, some commentators have been quick to question the necessity of established environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures. However, contrary to the rhetoric of such naysayers, ensuring that ESG remains on the agenda is a critical component of business success, especially during turbulent times. Put plainly, companies that continue to invest in ESG are more likely to maintain profitability and sharpen their competitive edge.

Why energy efficiency is not a luxury

When times are tough, it is inevitable that some efficiencies in resources (materials, people?) may be needed to ensure profitability prevails. Why then should energy efficiencies be any different? Apart from contributing to reducing a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, which can only improve a company’s public reputation and appeal to ever-increasing eco-conscious consumers and investors, there are also the economic benefits of energy efficiency measures.

By better managing consumption, businesses can significantly cut utility expenses. While the scale of potential savings will vary – depending on the types of efficiency measure that are available and affordable, implemented correctly – energy efficiency can transform costs into profits, providing a competitive advantage and helping businesses be on a firmer footing to weather global economic storms.

The power of efficiency

To raise awareness of the scale of the savings to be had, the UK government launched a new campaign in April of this year, to help businesses realise the cashflow benefits of a smarter approach to energy use (for some firms, a 20% cut in costs could represent the same bottom-line boost as a 5% increase in sales). In doing so, it published success stories such as that of Marlec Engineering, a wind turbine manufacturer in Corby, which switched to energy-saving LED lighting as part of a range of measures and achieved a 60% saving on lighting costs (with no reduction in light levels).

Many profitable companies are already adopting this “less = more” approach. For example, by leveraging tools and guidance from Microsoft’s Xbox Sustainability Toolkit and its own Unreal Engine graphics tool, the game developer Epic Games has introduced sizeable improvements to the energy efficiency of flagship game Fortnite, reducing power consumption without lowering visual fidelity, menu responsiveness or general user experience. As a result of these changes (which Unreal Engine has documented), it’s estimated that about 200MWh per day of savings have been achieved across Fortnite’s total player base, or 73GWh per year, which is equivalent to 14 wind turbines running for a year.

Steps to achieving energy efficiency

While the impact of this may be beyond the expectations of most companies, the point is that even small configuration changes can make a big dent in costs. The key to unlocking this potential is ambition – and a roadmap.

Below is an outline of the general process through which businesses can realise energy efficiency opportunities.

Step 1: Audit your energy

Start by understanding your current energy use and performance through an energy audit. This will help identify areas of inefficiency within your business. If you’re in the UK, this can be done via an ESOS assessment, which you may already be legally mandated to do if you meet the criteria. If you operate in other countries, similar schemes may exist; so it’s worth checking local legislation to see if this is something you are required to do or are likely to be required to do in the future.

Step 2: Plan your action

Develop an action plan for realising energy efficiency measures. This includes selecting appropriate energy-efficient technologies and practices. This step is highly dependent on your unique business context, so you might want to consider consulting an expert.

Step 3: Realise (and track) the savings

Implement the measures and monitor energy consumption to ensure effectiveness. Regular tracking allows for continuous improvement and maximisation of savings.

To conclude

Realising energy efficiency might, at first glance, seem a daunting prospect. However, if you have made it to the end of this article, hopefully you’ve realised it can be as simple as flicking a switch. So when it comes to saving your business money, don’t be left in the dark; achieve energy efficiency today!