Care homes energy savings strategies are a priority in 2014 as energy bills continue to spiral.
One thing is guaranteed in the care homes sector – energy and water bills will go on rising ahead of inflation for the next decade. In fact, many energy experts predict that energy bills will double in the next 10 years, mirroring the doubling of bills over the past decade.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that energy and water bill increases are expected to last much longer than expected, adding that prices could continue to outstrip inflation until at least 2030.
The care sector is responsible for putting out around 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually and consumes £1.07 billion worth of natural resources. To put it another way, this carbon footprint is much the same as that of a small country, according to a report by Nottingham Energy Partnership.
According to the report, around 420,000 frail older people, 0.65% of the UK population were living in care homes, or long-stay hospitals five years ago. UK population projections suggest this figure will be 1,200,000 by the time the older population peaks in 2071.
NEP notes: “In 2008/9, energy use in residential homes accounted for around £468.5 million and around 2.3 million tonnes of CO2e. This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of the country of Eritrea.”
Time to cut energy costs
Now is the time for care home owners and operators to find effective ways to reduce costs year on year as financial margins are being squeezed from all sides.
The imperative is to cut costs but there is limited scope for this, without reducing quality of service and delivery, in almost every department – except utilities. This is the area where care homes can make substantial, immediate and on-going cost reductions.
And this is where we can help care homes make a big difference. We think that care homes of all shapes and sizes, from the solo owners to the large commercial groups have similar cost-saving opportunities to the hospitals and the hotels that we work with. In a sense, they sit in the middle of these two sectors.
Care homes share similar financial issues because they are 24/7 operations. They are burning energy and consuming water around the clock. These are the areas where they can make massive savings, with the right partner to guide them.
We have proven that we can transform the bottom line of businesses by helping them save money and cut carbon.
End of cheap energy era
“The era of cheap energy is over.” With that rather direct, brutal even, statement, the UK government sends a clear signal to every care home in the country.
That Government statement is from one of its briefing papers, which clearly points to the need for greater efficiencies in the way we consume energy and water – and the two are joined at the hip.
Around half of all water used every day in buildings involves energy to heat, pump, remove, clean and recycle it and prices of electricity, gas, oil and water have increased for most of the past 10 years.
Lighting costs in the 24/7 environment of a care home are also a substantial drain on finances.
Energy efficiency key
In the past three years alone, average combined gas and electricity bills have increased by 37% in real terms. In fact, you could say that, instead of two, there are only three things certain in life – death, taxes and utility bills rises.
Care homes are not immune from the continual price rises and, like other squeezed businesses seek to minimise the commercial damage caused by these increases.
And because the Government has very little wriggle room on energy supply, it cannot make much impact on pricing. This leaves energy efficiency as the only effective strategy to reduce bills.
We expect that, because of these pressures, there will be new laws introduced within the next five years to make energy efficiency and carbon cutting a universal mandatory requirement.
Energy savings targets
Care homes are prime consumers of utilities all day, every day – we liken the operation to a fully-booked and busy hotel. They need the right advice to implement energy-saving, carbon-cutting strategies.
The targets for change are lighting, heat and water. Working with a trusted partner, care homes would be able to achieve the kind of savings in both energy costs and CO2 output that we are achieving with some of the biggest hotel groups in the UK.
Care homes should be planning towards a reduction in lighting, heating and water costs of up to 85%. Our experience of the hospitality sector shows that these savings are achievable within a short space of time.
The need for a trusted partner is very strong here and will help to deliver an end-to-end solution for care homes who want to be sure that their sustainability strategies are implemented, are cost-effective and are efficient.
From lighting to heating, including ventilation and boiler management, and water consumption, there are simple, effective decisions that care homes can take right now.
The investment in LED lighting and water-saving solutions like eco showerheads, eco taps and tap aerators is proven in the hospitality environment with quick payback – the return on that investment is usually within a year.
To use a hospitality example, we helped Puma Hotels to save more than £100,000 across the group’s UK 21 properties in just eight months with an energy/water efficiency project that cost £65,000. The group continues to make impressive savings on utility bills month after month.
At SaveMoneyCutCarbon, we believe that care homes will make substantial savings and reduce their carbon footprints with energy and water efficiency strategies informed by sound, practical and effective advice.
Watch our video to learn more about ways to cut consumption, cut bills and cut carbon.
Call us on 0845 123 5464 to discuss your energy efficiency strategy and start saving now.