It’s difficult to get a grip on your gas bill when your business is squeezed between the twin pressures of high consumption and price volatility. So if your company is a big gas consumer, how can you make savings on this year’s bill?
First, you need to understand the gas market and the way gas is priced. Although gas is cheaper by unit price than electricity, gas bills are often bigger because we use more of it – especially in the winter. So consumption can often be a seasonal challenge.
Who are the biggest business gas users?
The biggest commercial gas consumers are factories, which use almost six times more gas than any other single building type, according to the National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (ND-NEED): Energy Statistics 2006-12.
In the energy consumption line-up, factories are followed by shops, offices, warehouses and restaurants, where the main uses are in heating or cooling space or water, and in cooking. Other businesses that are highly conscious of their gas bills are hotels and care homes, where heating has to be on more often than other premises, and food takeaways where the gas bill can sometimes be double the electricity bill.
“We estimate that an average takeaway with four employees and a couple of ovens can spend anything from £5,000 to £8,000 a year on gas compared to half that on electricity,” said Tony Hitchens from the UK’s largest energy consultancy, Utilitywise
Geopolitical impact on price
The second impact on gas users is fluctuating prices caused by international geopolitical pressure.
Liquefied natural gas prices were driven up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, for example, when Japan started buying up all the LNG supply from Qatar. Three years later, in 2014, natural gas prices also went up after heightened tensions between Russia and the Ukraine.
Faced with both higher consumption and price fluctuations, businesses can take several steps to cut their gas bills by taking as much control of gas as they can. It starts with understanding your business’s gas consumption and how it compares to other businesses like yours.
Understand your consumption
Identifying where you use energy starts with an Energy Audit to see where you stand. Utilitywise also has a tailored Utility Management Plan (UMP) that helps large and small businesses make savings on gas, as well as electricity, by taking control over energy. It includes a utility health check, installation of controls, monitoring and reporting, and an education programme for staff.
Another way you can make gas savings is by switching suppliers to gain a new more advantageous contract, like engineering company Carclo Technical Plastics Limited in Surrey did, saving more than £4,200 through a gas contract renewal.
Fixed contracts are another way to gain control – you can fix a contract at the lowest point before prices rise. Utilitywise negotiated a five-year gas contract for St Barnabas Church in Sutton, agreed a year in advance so the church was immune from price rises between then and the start of the contract.
Identify your own simple ways to save
It’s not just through energy consultants that you can save. You can also take simple steps yourself to make business gas efficiency savings.
Take heating for example. You could increase the number of radiator controls, keep heating turned off when not in use (not turned down to a constant low) and make sure thermostats are positioned so they aren’t affected by fluctuations in temperature.
Another option is to investigate any innovations that can help you to save resources. In the energy-intensive steel industry, by-product gases from use in blast furnaces and power generators can be recovered and reused wherever possible or sold for power, according to the World Steel Association.
All these actions can make an impact on your business’s gas consumption. Knowing where you stand now will help you to plan for the future from a position of strength.
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
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