Medium sized businesses rarely have a person skilled and knowledgeable in the subject of energy management. At best energy management is assigned to an operations or quality manager to fit in with his/her other duties. At worst there is no attempt by the company to manage its energy consumption. Interestingly though these companies quite often put funding and effort into negotiating their energy prices and tariffs but not managing the consumption. Whilst it is good business practice to constantly get the best prices the latter is more sustainable in the long run.
Large companies often have an energy manager, sometimes whole departments, dedicated to the subject, and are able to pursue aggressive energy reduction campaigns. Reducing carbon footprint as well as costs and being able to make corporate social responsibility capital into the bargain.
The best way for medium sized businesses to gain these savings and the corporate responsibility kudos is to engage the services of an external professional energy manager. Like all professional services this provides the expertise and knowledge for a fraction of the cost of employing an additional headcount or diluting the efforts of an existing member of staff.
Although Energy Management has been around for a few years now as a recognised professional activity it is being further strengthened with the recent advent of standards of practice and certification. A British and European Standard, BS EN 16001, was introduced in 2009. This was soon replaced with the International Standard, ISO 50001, introduced in June last year. For those using the environmental standard, ISO 14001, the style of the Energy Management standards will be quite familiar. The standard sets the requirement for an Energy Management System (EnMS) which is essentially establishing a policy and a Plan-Do-Check-Act continuous improvement approach. Of course, the real benefit comes from reducing consumption, or at least changing from high carbon energy to lower carbon energy. Whilst the big companies may want their application of an EnMS to be audited and certificated the benefits can be still be obtained by smaller companies by merely applying the principles and foregoing costly certification where there is no business imperative.
So, whilst you may be pursuing your energy at a cheaper price it’s worth considering that the cheapest kWh is the one you don’t consume.