If rising utility bills are giving you that sinking feeling, it might be a good idea to sit down for this news – the challenges facing energy supply are unlikely to be just a short term issue. In fact, the utilities specialists that we work with at Lynx Purchasing are warning that energy prices could be volatile for years to come, at least until the end of this decade in 2030, and possibly beyond.
While the terrible events in Ukraine have highlighted the problem of reliance on energy imports, and the impact an international crisis can have on oil prices, operators will know that they were already seeing increases in energy bills before the Russian invasion in February.
This is because there are structural issues in the UK energy supply market, and it’s these that make continued price volatility likely. They include:
- Over-reliance on ‘just in time’ energy procurement;
- The unreliability of imported energy, which the Ukraine invasion has spotlighted;
- Increased weather volatility in the UK, which can affect both infrastructure and supply;
- Aging power stations that will take time to replace;
- Under-investment in renewable energy sources such as solar, tidal and wind.
None of these issues would be resolved quickly, even if there was the political will to do so, and investment was forthcoming. The reality is also that, as the energy crisis stars to bite, politicians are far more likely to focus on relieving the pressure on consumers that they are on supporting businesses.
While operators may be unable to influence the big picture, there are always steps that can be taken to reduce utility bills. Saving energy doesn’t just have an immediate impact on the bottom line, it makes an important contribution to sustainability. Initiatives that can have an immediate impact on the business can include:
- Switch it off, whenever you can. Some things, like WiFi routers, are designed to be left on, but devices such as TVs and monitors can be just as easily unplugged as simply left on standby.
- Unplug chargers for mobiles, iPads and laptops when not in use. These often consume energy even when not actively charging.
- Close doors, especially exterior ones, to keep the heat in. When the weather’s warm enough to open the doors, turn the heating off first.
- Adjust heating thermostats and hot water controls – a couple of degrees lower can result in big savings.
- Use lower temperature settings for washers and dryers.
- Only run dishwashers and glasswashers when full.
- Check fridge/freezer thermostats and don’t overfill fridges/cold rooms.
- Keep kitchen appliances clean and well maintained, and invest in energy efficient models when replacing kit.
Of course, nothing is inevitable. The energy market may change, and new ways of generating energy renewably may come onstream more quickly than expected, especially if the government commits to investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure.
Whatever happens, though, it makes sense for operators to do what they can to keep their energy consumption – and bills – as low as possible.
To download a FREE copy of our “Surviving Winter’ guide to reducing energy consumption, click here