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Energy saving in the NHS – Top tips to become an energy-saving trust

By Let's Talk Power | Posted May 16, 2024

NHS Trusts are under huge financial pressure to reduce costs while meeting targets for patient care and CO₂ emissions, and saving energy can help on both counts.

Did you know the UK’S healthcare sector spends more than £400m* a year on energy? It's never been more important for trusts to get savvy with their energy use to save money, meet sustainability and Net Zero targets.

Our top tips to become an energy-saving trust

Understand your energy costs – before you can start to make savings, you need to understand your usage. You’ll know from renewing your energy bill that it’s made up of two main charges; energy costs and non-energy costs. You’ll need to tackle both if you want a significant reduction in your overall bill. Your energy costs are determined by the price of wholesale activity. But you can reduce this cost by learning how and when you use energy, and by educating your staff about the importance of energy efficiency.

Review your Heating – to reduce your energy costs, you need to look at how you’re using electricity across the site. Heating can account for as much as 60%* of a hospital’s energy bill, so it’s a good place to start when looking for ways to save energy. Just 1°c of overheating can increase fuel costs by 8%*, so make sure the heating isn’t turned up in areas where it’s not needed.

Tell your energy manager or facilities team if any areas are too hot, cold, or draughty; this could indicate a maintenance problem. Avoid using your own heaters or fans, talk to your energy manager about reprogramming the heating or air conditioning, if your building management system allows. Are your thermostats located in the correct places? Too much sunlight or cold air could upset how they work. Consider installing timer switches in occasional-use rooms and check the settings on a regular basis.

Did you know – turning the thermostat up to its maximum setting doesn’t warm up a room any faster? It just leads to overheating.

Check your lighting – lighting makes up more than 35%* of a hospital’s electricity bill. Switch off lights in rooms that aren’t in use, and make sure to tell your colleagues to do the same! Report any faulty or inadequate lighting, check that windows, skylights, light fittings, timers, and sensors are included on the cleaning rota, to keep them working effectively. 

Keep an eye on appliances – don’t leave appliances in standby mode; they still use power! When not in use, switch off individual items of equipment, like X-ray machines and film processors. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need – boiling excess water more wastes electricity.

Make sure to use power-saving settings on your computer and turn it off when it’s not on use. A computer left on standby costs around £53 a year.*

Encourage other members of staff, patients and visitors to switch off appliances that don’t need power, for example, mobile phones that have reached full charge.

Faulty appliances, from radiators not working properly to broken fridges, are a major source of wasted energy use. Costs may amount up when repairing and replacing items, but you'll be saving both energy and money in the long run.

Promote the importance of saving energy to staff and patients – one of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption is by educating staff about the value of saving energy. Ask for their input too – where do they think energy is being wasted? Are lights labelled clearly so they know which can be turned off?

Without buy-in from the trust board down, you’ll struggle to get your energy-saving initiatives off the ground. Consider running a ‘switch-off’ campaign that promotes the benefits of saving energy and the impact on trust resources – less money spent on electricity frees up money that could be spent on staffing or new equipment.

Invest in energy efficiency – electricity represents more than 50%* of a hospital’s energy costs – and due to investment in specialist medical equipment, this is rising. So it's worth looking for energy efficient measures to prevent wastage. Consider installing timer switches to turn off vending machines when not in use – a typical vending machine can cost around £120* per year in energy costs alone. Small refurbishment changes to consider include installing draught lobbies (a double set of doors) or wiring lights on separate controls so those near windows can be switched off independently. More extensive upgrades such as switching to a combined heat and power system, can reduce a hospital’s energy bill by 30%*.

Consider Renewable Energy Solutions – switching to renewable is a good option if you’re wanting to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Installing your own renewable energy infrastructure can be a costly investment but will pay for itself in savings over time.

Solar panels are a cost-effective way of generating your own energy, especially if you have enough rough space across multiple buildings. Installing solar PV systems can be an excellent way to gain control of your energy, while helping your trust's journey to Net Zero.

REGO certificates are also available if you want to switch to greener energy, without installing your own infrastructure. Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) show electricity has been generated from renewable sources.

Maximise EDF's support – if you’re a member of one of our Frameworks, you've free access to a range of support services at Club CCS, and your Scottish Procurement resource centre. Including webinars on topics such as preparing for winter and reconciliation payments – speak to your account manager for access.

With most NHS trusts working day and night, it’s important to not use electricity unnecessarily when it’s at its most expensive. Our range of specialist support services could save you money on your bills by helping you shift your energy use for non-essential tasks (such as laundry) outside of peak times. In just on year, our Triad Alert service saved the Met Office £158,000*.

EDF Business Solutions are helping Britain’s NHS trusts achieve Net Zero. There are different solutions you can use to reduce the carbon footprint of your trust, and each of these play their part in helping you achieve Net Zero.

We can work with you on your journey to Net Zero, get in touch with your EDF Business Solutions account manager for more information.