Save fuel, save energy, save money!

BCIA President Graeme Rees assesses the measures we can take to deal with the increasing cost of living.

With fuel and energy costs spiralling upwards, planning ahead is playing a crucial role in families’ month-by-month activities in order to ensure they have enough money to cover the ‘essentials’, such as food, travel to school/work and bills. Some of the adjustments households and companies were forced to make during lockdown can now help us adapt to the increasing cost of living.

The UK’s roads were virtually empty during the early months of Covid (becoming a cyclist’s delight in the process!), fuel prices plummeted and people were saving money as they were not allowed to travel anywhere unless it was an essential journey. The adoption of online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Teams meant important discussions could still take place without the need to meet up in person. Now, many households are having to scrutinise every penny of their monthly spending and restricting their car journeys wherever possible. Online meetings are becoming more common as we are perhaps waking up to the fact that driving to a meeting is neither environmentally friendly nor financially justifiable in many cases.

A well planned Building Energy Management System (BEMS) can also save energy and money for the end user and the importance of this was emphasised during lockdown as many buildings still had their lighting and HVAC running despite being largely empty.

The biggest reasons for deploying a BEMS are arguably, a) to monitor and subsequently reduce a building’s energy consumption and make it more environmentally friendly, and b) save money! The two for the most part go hand in hand and in the age of Net-Zero the environmental reasons have been heavily promoted in recent years and rightfully so. It is perhaps now a good time to highlight some of the financial benefits of a well thought out, properly planned and correctly maintained BEMS.

To ensure their BEMS are operating properly in order to deliver maximum savings on energy costs, end users should keep a check on setpoints and time scheduling, being sure any temporary overrides put in place are returned to normal operation and that all sensing devices are kept clean and away from any erroneous influences.

Maintenance and repair jobs will sometimes involve call outs for engineers which means more money spent on fuel when travelling to different jobs. The importance of keeping maintenance call outs to a minimum during lockdown was in order to keep human contact to a minimum and reduce the risk of spreading Covid. The same principle can now apply but with the aim of reducing unnecessary journeys. Applying the latest technologies including data analytics via secure remote connectivity, coupled with good forward planning can reduce engineers’ need to carry out maintenance on site unless absolutely necessary and thereby reduce their spending on fuel.

All of the above may be obvious and straightforward to many but quite often it is the easy stuff that is missed or forgotten about, whether it’s flicking off a light switch or only filling the kettle with as much water as you need. It is surprising what we can achieve when we adopt a ‘back to basics’ approach, and to borrow a campaign slogan from former BCIA President Jon Belfield, ‘one small change’ really can make a big difference.