David Leydon, our Head of Food and Agribusiness said:
“Unsurprisingly, energy costs are a significant expense for food and drink manufacturers and the amount of energy used directly impacts the viability and profitability of these producers. Working with many food and drink producers throughout Ireland, we are acutely aware of how the drastic rise in energy costs is negatively impacting their business.”
The following practical steps could help food business owners and management teams to reduce energy consumption and retain more cash in the business, thus mitigating the stark increases in the cost of energy over the past six months.
Ten top tips to help save energy
Track and Monitor
Firstly, it is important to understand and track your bills. This will show trends of energy consumption, times of low and high energy consumption and identify potential areas to reduce consumption.
Complete a full energy audit of your business. This will determine what energy you use, where you waste energy and how to reduce energy consumption. SEAI offers a €2,000 voucher towards a professional energy audit. Find out more here: Energy Audits for SMEs | Business | SEAI.
In-house energy audit
If you are conducting an in-house energy audit, the following areas are key points to review:
Temperature loss: Review ventilation, check insulation levels and locate air leaks.
Appliances: Review all appliances and their life cycle. Do they need to be upgraded? Do the appliances need to be serviced or cleaned more regularly to become more efficient?
Review product portfolio
Complete a full review of your product portfolio. It is important to understand which items are profitable and which items are not maintaining the average margin in the business. Focus on the lower-margin products, examine their manufacturing methods and determine if a cheaper, alternative manufacturing method could be used to increase the overall margin of the product.
Are there timers set on eligible appliances? Shut down any idle equipment and ensure they are not on standby.
Review walk-in refrigerators and freezers and ensure they have curtains to aid temperature control.
Just in time approach
Review consumer stock holding and input materials. Be aware of holding too much stock in the business that requires storage/refrigeration. This will ensure energy is being used efficiently.
Change any incandescent bulbs to LED lights. LED lights are 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Use sensor lighting, when possible, to ensure lights aren’t left on unnecessarily.
Conduct a review of vehicles in the business to explore potential opportunities for moving some vehicles to electric. The benefits of this are lower motor insurance and a reduction in transport costs. SEAI provide grants for electric vehicles, see more information here: Electric Vehicle Grants | SEAI.
Changing energy type
Changing the reliance on electricity and using other renewable types of energy such as solar energy through solar panels should be a long-term goal within your business. This will allow your business to save money and become environmentally friendly.
Shopping around with energy providers
Ensure to shop around with energy providers annually to allow your business to have the best price and conditions.
David continued: “It is important that you have an overall plan to conserve energy. Split the planning into two areas: short and long-term action plans. The short-term tips provided are quick fixes, which can be actioned promptly to make an immediate impact. Long-term actions can be used to ensure the business is continuously focussed and motivated to make a long-term change; ultimately resulting in your business becoming more environmentally friendly and attractive to new customers, and enhancing your profitability.”