18th February 2022 Sustainability in the Early Years All Posts

8 tips to reduce energy costs in your nursery

Reducing the amount of energy your nursery business uses can create some significant savings, freeing up money to invest in other areas of your nursery. Of course, reducing your energy consumption plays a large role in improving the sustainability of your business too. By using less energy or switching to more efficient and renewable energy sources to power businesses, we can reduce the demand for fossil fuels and create a healthier environment for everyone on the planet.

Electricity costs are continuing to rise and take big chunks out of nursery budgets. This is why it’s so essential to find effective ways to reduce these bills and free up precious resources, leaving you more to spend on the things that matter. Here are some quick, easy wins for your nursery’s energy-saving agenda.

1.  Know your energy use and waste
If you only take meter readings now and then, it’s hard to tell when you use the most energy and where you might be wasting it. Installing a smart meter will give you more control and will let you see how much you’re spending on your business’ energy throughout the day, so you can adjust energy-heavy tasks, and trim wasted energy. Smart Meters will also allow you to get more accurate bills instead of estimates by cutting out the hassle and time of having to do manual meter readings.

2. Get smart with your heating and aircon
Program your thermostats to ensure you are not heating or cooling your setting after everyone has gone home for the night. Even if your team’s hours vary, using programmable or smart thermostats to manage the temperature during “off” hours can make a big difference. Is the heat always on during the winter? Are there times when it can, at the very least, be operated at a lower temperature, or if possible turned off entirely?

  • Is the air conditioner always on during the summer? The same as with heat: consider increasing the temperature by a few degrees or turning off the AC when the nursery is closed.
  • Give vents, fans and air conditioning filters a quick clean so they don’t have to work as hard.
  • Move filing cabinets, workbenches and other pieces of work furniture that are blocking your radiators. They absorb some of the heat and cost your business that little bit more.
  • Encourage everyone to dress appropriately for the weather e.g. putting a jumper on in winter rather than hiking up the heating, this also might involve relaxing the code and rather than people wearing thick fabric uniform in summer and needing the air-con on, allowing people to wear more breathable fabrics and staying cool.

3. Consider your lighting

  • Turn off lights when not in use. Although it might seem like a no-brainer during a busy day in a typical nursery setting, lights stay on in areas like the hallways, bathrooms, or office, even when those spaces aren’t being used. Sensor lights can help to keep the lights on when needed, but off when they’re not.
  • Using energy-efficient light bulbs is one of the easiest and simplest energy-saving ideas in the workplace: switch out your regular incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs such as CFL or LED. This will help you use a significantly less amount of electricity. Despite the upfront cost of replacing them, they could save your business a lot of energy and often last longer.
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight. If you’re fortunate enough to have a nursery space where there’s abundant natural light, use it! On a sunny day, you might not need to turn on the lights at all in areas where windows can give all the illumination you need. Make sure that windows and skylights are cleaned regularly to allow for maximum natural light.

4. Check your equipment

  • Power down computers and other electrical equipment at the end of the day. If computers are not being used through the hours when your staff aren’t working, get your team into the habit of shutting them down before they leave. Turning off and unplugging as many devices as possible at the end of the day is a simple way to cut back. This includes energy-efficient coffee makers, toasters, and similar appliances.
  • Purchase energy-efficient office equipment. Before you buy or lease electronics, check to see if they have been evaluated and deemed energy-efficient, which can save you money and help you manage your energy costs, especially in the long run.

5. Reduce your energy usage in your nursery kitchen

  • Only boil as much water in the kettle as you need for your cuppa
  • Switch off the microwave and ovens at the plug after use. 
  • Wait until the dishwasher is full before switching it on.
  • Keep your fridges and freezers efficient by cleaning filters regularly and making sure they have enough space so they don’t overheat.
  • Make sure oven doors fit tightly by adjusting door latches, and that gasket seals are in good condition. 
  • Keep pots covered to reduce heat loss and cook quicker.
  • Preheat cooking equipment at the manufacturer’s recommended setting. 
  • Buy insulated cooking equipment whenever possible (e.g. fryers, ovens, coffee machines).

6. Audit your building

Your building could be working against you by wasting energy. Features like doors, windows, or even cracks in the walls can artificially inflate your energy use. Conducting an audit of these could help you to determine how much energy you use and outline ways for you to save energy. Take some time to examine your windows, ventilation, insulation, and heating and cooling systems. Look for cracks and holes around the setting and check windows and doors for leaks. Seal any air leaks with the appropriate material and decide if you need to switch to energy-saving windows. Check the ventilation of the setting by looking for any evidence of moisture, rot and humidity. 

Also, think outside of your building. Are you in control of the landscaping around your business? If so, you have a great opportunity to create energy savings for your nursery with energy-efficient landscaping. Strategically planting trees to block winds or provide shade on hot summer days can help reduce your heating and cooling costs. 

7. Print less and go paperless
Be as paperless as possible to avoid having the printer on all the time. Make sure it’s turned off when not in use. You can encourage less paper waste by using Online Nursery Management Platforms like Connect Childcare and doing as much sharing as you can online through parent collaboration platforms like ParentZone.

8. Get your team onboard
Inspiring your staff to be energy-efficient in their day-to-day work lives may take some time, but there are some easy ways to club together and reduce your nursery’s energy costs.

  • Set up an energy team or assign an energy champion. For any bill-cutting initiative to be effective, you will need a committed energy team or a designated champion to lead the project and to take a long-term view, devising a plan based on an energy efficiency audit of your facilities.
  • Put up posters near windows, light switches and plug sockets to remind your staff how they can save on energy and why it’s important. Conduct regular walkthroughs of your nursery to check on your equipment and spot any wastage. 
  • Keep energy saving a top agenda item on your regular meetings to allow you to set goals, celebrate progress and review any new ideas. 

There are plenty of useful ways that you can be more economical at nursery, and we hope that these tips and advice will help you to save money and make a more sustainable nursery setting in 2022 and beyond.

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Imogen is our Content and Social Media creative