Why managing energy costs effectively is key to the success of your care home, as told by Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative Limited.

In recent years, the cost of energy has become one of the main concerns for business owners across the UK with some seeing their gas and electricity bills double or even triple. 

Few sectors have felt the pain of these increases more sharply than the care industry, which is duty-bound to maintain high levels of warmth and comfort all year round. 

Although there are some signs that energy costs may come down later this year, it is widely accepted that prices will stay relatively high for at least the rest of the decade. 

Therefore, to maintain a healthy budget whilst continuing to offer a high-quality service, it is vital for care home providers to introduce a modern energy strategy that will reduce ongoing costs and deliver long-term energy security.

A sensible starting place for improving the energy performance of any business property is to look at the existing Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or a Display Energy Certificate (DEC). This is something that is required of all care home providers that includes details of the energy strengths and weaknesses of the property. An EPC or DEC will provide recommendations on the best ways to improve the energy performance of the building, complete with cost and savings estimates. 

With heat accounting for up to 70% of a care home’s energy bills, it is essential to ensure the building is made as thermally efficient, retaining as much heat, as possible. This could mean topping up loft insulation to the recommended minimum of 300mm, adding cavity wall insulation where it is missing, and replacing older windows with high quality double or triple glazing. 

For care homes that have a communal boiler, it may be worth looking at replacing this with a modern low-carbon alternative such as a heat pump. Heat pumps provide a low-cost and reliable source of heat for decades and they can even be powered by solar panels for added long-term savings.  

It is important to evaluate a care home’s potential to generate its own solar power, because this could provide a source of free energy for at least 25 years. If budgets allow, it can be cost-effective to combine solar panels with a solar battery that can store electricity for use in the evening and overnight. 

Lighting can also be a big part of a care home’s energy bill, with residents expecting rooms and communal spaces to be well lit throughout the day. Replacing all lights with energy efficient LEDs can drive down lighting costs by up to 90%, while introducing motion sensor switches in hallways and outdoors spaces can cut down electricity waste. 

Whatever your care home decides to do, it is important that some action is taken to try to reduce energy use over the longer term. Care homes, as high users of heat and power, are especially vulnerable to energy market volatility. Therefore, implementing a long-term energy strategy will deliver big benefits for your business, your stakeholders, and for your residents.