With schools and academies under increased financial pressure, we highlight ways to reduce energy costs.
As the number of schools converting to academies continues to rise, so does the financial pressure on school governing bodies. According to a recent report by The Observer, eight out of the top thirteen multi-academy trusts have raised warnings over mounting deficits and failure of funding to keep pace with costs. The amount of money spent on heating and lighting schools is normally second only to staffing costs so any savings that can be made in this area definitely need to be considered by any business managers, head teachers or finance officers. The good news is that utility bills can be reduced without having a negative impact on the day-to- day running of the school. Indeed, a recent report by the Carbon Trust reveals that UK schools could collectively reduce energy costs by around £44
million a year.
Our expert market analysis and energy procurement team can identify pricing trends in advance of spikes in the cost of gas and electricity so that you can get the right energy contract at the right time and right price. As well as getting the best value for your power, it is important to make sure the terms and conditions meet your needs; expensive break clauses need to be avoided at all costs.
Like any business or organisation, schools can grow. Residential development within the school’s catchment area, for example, may lead to an increase in pupil numbers and place existing facilities under pressure. Increasing the energy supply to an existing site or changing premises altogether if the current site has outgrown its use, can come with problems – and a huge amount of paperwork. At Energy Management, we pride ourselves in our ability to manage such situations and agree the best terms and conditions with energy suppliers to ensure that clients are not caught out by such a change in circumstances.
In addition to getting the best price for your power, reducing energy consumption is another obvious way of reducing energy bills. To be more energy efficient you need to know how much you’re consuming first, and this isn’t achievable without possible accurate monitoring and data logging of energy use. Our smart metering management service enables schools to identify periods when energy use is at its highest and then make informed decisions going forward.
Incredibly, significant savings can be made purely by checking utility bills thoroughly. Our research has shown that as many as one in five bills are wrong with over-charges amounting to as much as three to five percent of the overall bill total. Energy Management use a bespoke invoice-checking system to shine a light on any errors, so that action can be taken to recover any over charges as quickly as possible to ensure you are getting the deal that you signed up for.
If you would like to know how we can save energy within your school, organisation and business,
please get in touch via our contact page or telephone on 01225 867722.
To celebrate #NationalApprenticeshipWeek, we look at some of the positive benefits to hiring apprentices.
Unfettered in their thought process and not tainted by bad practices from previous employment, apprentices can be like a breath of fresh air to a company. That’s certainly been our experience at Energy Management with our latest recruits contributing so much to our operation on a day-to-day basis.
Due to its bespoke nature, energy management is not an industry that you can necessarily prepare for through university qualifications. So, purely from a cost perspective, it does not always make sense to employ a graduate over an apprentice when, in many cases, they might only know as much, or even less, but expect twice the salary as a 16 or 18-year-old. By the time a graduate leaves university, there’s a good chance our apprenticeships will have passed through Institute of Energy Management accredited training courses and been upskilled in other areas of the business.
Another plus side to bringing apprentices on board is that they have no pre-conceptions and are like ‘sponges’ in their willingness to learn. This enables you to mould them into the employee that you want them to be, and align them with your company’s culture. That said, we encourage our apprentices to have a voice and bring their fresh way of looking at things to the table. As the old sports saying goes, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Having apprentices also breeds a culture of loyalty within your organisation. Provided they feel valued members of staff there is a good chance they will grow as the company grows and then share the knowledge they have learnt with the next wave of apprenticeships coming through. This organic approach to development helps to brings consistency in the message that you’re trying to deliver as a company.
Community is a big focus for us at Energy Management and we deliver our apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with the nearby Wiltshire College. Engaging with staff and the students there is important to us as we look to create opportunities for young, local talent to shine.
In short, we value apprentices because they:
* Can be trained and developed to meet the needs of the business
* Bring in new, innovative ideas and a fresh perspective
* Help address the skills gap
* Show loyalty having started at the bottom and work their way up
To meet the surge in output new or an upgrade of existing energy supplies will be needed to keep the production lines running.
When applying for new or upgraded electricity and natural gas supplies, customers should be mindful that time is a valuable commodity. Utility companies and Energy Suppliers work to pre-set rules applied by Ofgem and will not wavier from them through fear of financial penalty.
The clock starts and stops at various points along the lengthy process with a maximum response time at each stage.
Acknowledgement of an initial enquiry
Preparation of formal quotation, (new/upgrade works).
Formal notification periods relating to registration of supply contracts and meter installations.
Scheduling of works following receipt of official acceptance and payment.
Beyond these pre-determined timescales, the physical restrictions of the planned work will determine the scheduled start date.
Managing network operational restrictions, (turning supplies off, installing new equipment on the network)
The biggest influencing factor is often the long lead items. Projects involving more than simply extending existing infrastructure are often subject to extended timescales as items such as switchgear and transformers are not ‘off the shelf’ items. At this point customers are very much at the mercy of the utility companies and the need for cooperation is key to ensure that time saved is captured.
If you need advice or support on a specific project involving new or upgraded supplies, please give us a call on 01225 867722 so that we can help make the process as smooth as possible.
Energy consultancy puts their foot to the metal and presses on with expansion plans
Energy Management LLP is pleased to announce the acquisition of energy procurement specialists Bruder Resources Ltd.
The acquisition is the first of many planned by the fast-growing Wiltshire firm as it looks to underline its position as one of the leading energy consultancies and brokers in the UK.
Established in 1998, Bruder has developed an unrivalled portfolio of loyal clients over the past two decades from its base near Birmingham.
Energy Management LLP CEO Steve Retford said: “Bruder is a renowned name in the industrial heartland of the West Midlands having built long-lasting relationships with casting houses and metal forming companies. Our in-house engineering expertise will enable us to add a lot of value to the work they have done over many years in this energy intensive sector.”
Mr Retford added: “Their company values match that of our own in that, we too, believe in relationships built on trust and transparency. Many of the companies that have been with Bruder from the start of the fledgling energy management industry in the 1990s are still with them to this day.
“As members of the Cast Metals Federation, Aluminium Federation and Combustion Engineering Association, we’ve been looking to increase our presence amongst the traditional industries in this area and we believe Bruder Resources to be a natural fit as we look to continue to expand the company and our offering.”
He added: “We will be progressing other acquisitions in the near future, these are exciting times.”
About Energy Management LLP
Based in Bradford-on-Avon near Bath, Energy Management provides the full array of energy consultancy and brokerage services and has been helping its clients, including some of the best-known brands in the UK, to reduce their fuel consumption and costs and improve energy efficiency since 2000. The team at Energy Management has years of experience working in the energy industry and associated fields, either as energy consultants or chartered engineers.
Fitzmaurice Primary School in Bradford-on-Avon were celebrating today after one of their pupils won Energy Management’s annual competition to design the cover of the company’s Christmas e-card.
Over 350 Primary schoolchildren from the Wiltshire town entered the competition and the judging panel, made up of Energy Management staff, were impressed by the high standard of artwork produced.
Idris (pictured) won first place for his colourful depiction of Christmas, with fellow Fitzmaurice pupils, Megan and Daisy, chosen as runners-up. All three received Christmas goody bags from Energy Management owner Gary Weston, his wife Jacy and Energy Management Account Manager Emma Street.
“They were all excited to receive their prizes and it was wonderful to see their smiling faces,” said Emma.
“Our festive e-card will be going out to customers later this week adorned with Idris’ lovely work.”
As a reward for winning the competition, Energy Management will be sponsoring a school project focusing on internet safety, worth £1,000.
A number of children from Fitzmaurice Primary School will attend a course that will teach them how to be safer online, before sharing their new-found knowledge with the wider school.
Energy Management LLP has launched its treebate scheme: free trees to schools, colleges and academies that enter into a partnership with the Wiltshire-based business.
The inspiration behind treebate came about while the company exhibited at recent Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham, where 250 Christmas trees were given away to visitors to the Energy Management stand, many of whom came from Education Trusts and standalone schools and academies.
Feedback was so favourable, “the best giveaway I’ve ever had,” commented one delegate, that Energy Management CEO Steve Retford thought it would be a great idea to extend the gesture beyond the exhibition and help engage schoolchildren with eco-friendly issues.
“We’re all striving for a greener future so any Education Trust or standalone academy or school that signs a contract with Energy Management will receive trees, free of charge, to plant within their grounds,” he said.
“Hopefully, through treebate, we’ll help the government to reach their target to plant 11 million new trees by 2020.”
In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive 26,000 miles – that’s over twice the national average for an individual car user and more than a lifetime of school runs.
Mr Retford added: “As we believe that energy education is fundamental to the future of the planet, one of our engineers will be happy to come into partner schools and academies to have a talk on energy-related issues and help students engage in the subject.
“There are many ways in which schools and the individual pupils can be more energy efficient and we’d be more than happy to pass on the knowledge that we’ve built up over many years.”
Energy Management has a proud track record in helping educational establishments save on their energy costs.
In 2011, North Somerset County Council (NSCC) sought the help of Energy Management’s expertise and continues to reap the benefits today.
Simply by checking billing errors and securing the best fuel prices at the right time, Energy Management’s procurement and invoice validation service alone has saved NSCC, and its 58 schools and academies, a quarter of a million pounds over the last three years.
As everyone in education is all too painfully aware, frozen budgets and rising costs have conspired to put schools and academies under increased financial pressure and led to cost-cutting measures. In some cases, this has even led to a shorter school week, in a bid to save on teachers’ salaries.
Energy consumption though is one area where cutbacks are positive, in that the less energy you consume the lower your energy bills will be. That said, few academics will profess to be experts on energy management issues, or have the time to dedicate hours to understanding the complexities of the energy market, which is where external agencies such as Wiltshire-based Energy Management LLP can step in to help. We always say that the cheapest unit of energy is the one you never use.
In our experience a secondary school of around 1500 pupils will spend approximately £100,000 a year on gas and electricity, with heating accounting for roughly half, and up to five percent of that overall figure could be down to billing errors alone. It may come as a surprise to people outside of the energy industry but around one in five of the invoices that we handle on our clients’ behalf are wrong.
Whether it’s down to inaccurate meter readings, ‘fat fingers’ inputting the data incorrectly or wrongly applied CCL and VAT charges, it’s a fact that customers often pay more than they should for their energy – or pay for energy they have not consumed. We have trained eyes that can shine a light on these errors and put right quickly.
Implementation of relatively straightforward energy efficiency measures can save schools money too. Indeed, a recent report by the Carbon Trust reveals that UK schools could collectively reduce energy costs by around £44 million a year.
For under-pressure schools there could finally be some light – LED, of course – at the end of the tunnel. Our highly qualified and experienced engineers review a site’s energy usage, from lighting, heating, boiler system management to air conditioning, and find traditional and innovative – but always sensible – ways of reducing energy costs.
Like any business or organisation, schools can grow. Residential development within the school’s catchment area, for example, may lead to an increase in pupil numbers and place existing facilities under pressure. Increasing the energy supply to an existing site or changing premises altogether if the current site has outgrown its use, can come with problems – and a huge amount of paperwork.
At Energy Management, we pride ourselves in our ability to manage such situations and agree the best terms and conditions with energy suppliers to ensure that clients are not caught out by such a change in circumstances.
We once acted on behalf of a manufacturing company in Northern Ireland that made the decision to close one of its struggling factories halfway through its energy contract. Punitive break clauses meant they stood to pay out over £1m in compensation, but thanks to the excellent relationship we had with the supplier concerned, and the leverage this bought us, the slate was wiped entirely clean.
If you would like to know how we can save energy within your school, organisation and business, please get in touch on 01225 867722.
Despite the best efforts and significant investment from water companies, data from the water industry regulator Ofwat shows that more than three billion litres of water leaks every day, a level unchanged for at least four years and just 7% lower than the level in 2000.
With large bursts, companies do usually manage to respond quickly, but smaller leaks can also cause huge amounts of water to be lost and can go on for weeks – even months. Undetected, leaks can be particularly costly for public buildings that are typically closed for weeks on end during holiday periods, such as academies and schools, resulting in them paying for water they are not using.
It is important for these educational establishments to calculate how much water is used outside of school hours (including holidays). This exercise will help to identify leaks and other inefficiencies. Some schools have been known to leave flushing urinals running all through the summer holidays, according to a best-practice guide from the Environment Agency.
It is estimated that 20% of the water paid for in the UK actually leaked away before it reached anybody’s tap, and around a third of that total occurs on customer premises. Putting a stop to unseen leaks through a proper water audit and monitoring service, which analyses when and where water is being used, can reduce consumption significantly. A consumption and monitoring service is just one of the areas where and outside consultancy like Energy Management LLP can help customers with substantial reductions and controls over their water bills, with water procurement and tariff reviews two other areas of expertise.
As academies grow – there are now 4,000 in the UK under 1,000 different trusts, they can often occupy multiple geographical areas and cross municipal boundaries with sites covered by different water suppliers. There can be numerous benefits to an academy opting for one supplier across the board, not least the opportunity to standardise the way bills are formatted and paid and therefore lessen the administrative burden.
Since the market was deregulated in April 2017, 22 companies exist in the water retail sector in England and Scotland, so it is not as if there are a shortage of options. Our water procurement negotiating team have excellent contacts with these suppliers are well-placed to get the right deal and the right price for your organisation.
Energy Management’s invoice validation service has helped save North Somerset County Council (NSCC) schools and academies £75,000 over the last three years, with further savings made in other areas of this field.
Over the period in question, 57 NSCC run schools and academies benefitted from Energy Management’s expertise in spotting potentially costly errors contained within their energy bills.
Unless spotted by a trained eye, wrong price per kilowatt entries and more technical issues such as incorrect capacity allowance charges can all contribute to a customer paying over the odds.
Research from Energy Management has shown that as many as one fifth of utility bills are wrong and result in over charges which, according to industry statistics, can be on average between three to five percent of the overall bill value.
As many headteachers or financial directors do not necessarily have the time or knowledge of the energy industry to study the minutiae of bills, it often pays to get outside help. That is certainly the experience of Ian Blackburn, Principal Commercial & Compliance Officer of North Somerset Council.
Mr Blackburn said: “Energy Management provide unrivalled expert advice, which has resulted in significant cost savings for the Council and its schools. We are extremely happy with the service we receive from Energy Management LLP and would recommend them without hesitation.”
Energy Management provide a whole range of energy consultancy services to schools and academies, and to some of the leading commercial brands in the UK.
If you would like to discuss how we can help reduce your energy costs, please visit us on Stand B50 at The Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham, on November 22, or give us a call on 01225 867722.