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Energy saving guide for care homes and nursing homes
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For owners and managers of care or nursing homes, reducing bills is not just about finding the best value tariff. Becoming energy efficient is a key component. Other than staff and building costs, energy bills are likely to be a large chunk of your business outgoings.
In this guide, we will explore how to save energy in a care or nursing home setting without compromising the care you provide to service users.
Why does business energy matter in care homes?
Over half a million UK residents currently live in one of the 20,000 care and nursing homes across the country. The majority are home to elderly residents, but some are designed to provide care and residential services for children, or those with long-term disabilities.
According to the Carbon Trust, the UK’s health and social care sector spends over £400 million each year on energy costs. As with all organisations, if energy is wasted then money is being spent inefficiently.
According to Oscar Research, a typical UK care home has 20 residents. While they vary in the services they provide, all residential homes have a duty of care to provide a warm and safe environment for their residents.
The challenges in increasing energy efficiency in care and nursing home settings are myriad. For homes that are resident to elderly people, it is of course important to keep the environment warm, especially as older people can often feel the cold more easily. This means the room temperature tends to be kept higher than the average.
Then there are the everyday energy costs that are critical to the smooth running of a residential care home. Laundry, cleaning, cooking and keeping residents entertained can mean the electricity bills for nursing and care homes can be considerable.
By reducing money spent on heating and electricity, care and nursing homes can become more cost-effective. This can be done in a way that does not compromise the level of care and service offered to residents. You will also be reducing carbon emissions and doing your bit to combat climate change.
How to incorporate energy efficiency into care homes
The first step in reducing energy waste is to understand where energy is typically being used. This is sometimes known as a business energy audit, but it can be done by simply taking some time to consider your energy needs and usage. Refer to recent gas and electricity bills to get an accurate picture of your current spending. You can then measure – once you start to take energy efficiency measures – how much you are saving.
Most care and nursing homes run with a daily procedure that all staff play a part in delivering. This may include getting service users up in the morning, preparing and serving meals and refreshments and providing entertainment.
By looking at your current routine and accompanying protocols you can identify where there is energy waste. Involve staff at the beginning of this process and get their ideas on where energy is currently being wasted. Incorporate energy efficiency procedures into staff responsibilities.
Heating makes up 70% of the energy bill for the average UK care home. Therefore, finding ways to reduce the way heating is used can yield huge reductions in your costs. Heating is important for the comfort and safety of care home residents, but inefficiencies can still be reduced. For example, turning off the heating in rooms that are not occupied and keeping spaces well insulated will significantly reduce heating bills.
It is also important to consider how you currently heat your space. If you have an old central heating system or rely on electric heaters, you could save money by upgrading to a modern central heating system. Investing in double or triple-glazed windows will also improve the energy efficiency of a nursing or care home. The investment will often pay for itself within a few years.
Ensuring your boiler is serviced every year is also important. As well as reducing the likelihood of your boiler breaking down, a serviced boiler can operate at an additional 15% capacity.
Not all energy efficiency measures need to cost money. Simple efforts, like reducing draughts with curtains and closing doors can make a big difference to your heating costs. Draught proofing windows and doors is very inexpensive, but these efforts can reduce the energy needed to heat poorly insulated rooms.
Finally, consider the locations of your thermostats. Make sure they are not too close to a window or radiator which will impact the effectiveness of the temperature gauge.
Lighting and electricity
The same goes for lighting. This is another significant overhead in care and nursing homes. Switching to LED lighting can reduce electricity usage by up to 80% compared to ordinary light bulbs. Equally, turning lights off in unoccupied rooms can reduce energy consumption. Electrical appliances continue to use energy, even when in stand by mode.
Switching off televisions and kitchen appliances when not in use can also reduce your business electricity bills. Ensuring appliances are unplugged also reduces the risk of electrical fires.
If you operate a kitchen and utility room, there are many ways to reduce energy waste. These can include investing in appliances with an ‘A’ energy rating, as they will use much less electricity over their lifetime. Ensuring dishwashers and washing machines run on economy cycles can also reduce energy bills.
Find a great energy deal for your care home
A good value for money business energy tariff is one of the best ways to reduce the electricity and gas bills of a care or nursing home.
Many nursing and care homes are overpaying for the energy they use. Some are on expensive business energy contracts that can be up to 70% more expensive than the best value energy deals available. If you have not switched business energy supplier in the last year, you are likely to be in this bracket of business customers.
At Business Electricity Prices we can compare the commercial energy market for you in seconds via our online price comparison tool. We can also manage your switch to a new business energy supplier. Our friendly advisors can offer advice and support on a new contract based on your business energy needs.
To ensure you are not paying more for your business energy bills, compare prices every six months. Once you have switched with Business Electricity Prices, we will contact you to let you know if a cheaper energy deal becomes available. We will also prompt you when your existing business energy tariff is up for renewal to ensure you don’t end up on a costly rolling energy contract.
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