OPINION: Are we heading towards energy efficiency in the care sector?

Hawsons energy efficiency

The opportunities for care home operators to achieve reduced running costs by becoming more energy efficiency are considerable. In its latest news article published on its website, Scott Sanderson of independent chartered accountants Hawsons explores how care homes could reduce their energy bills through energy generation systems and/or more effective energy management.

The recent NatWest care home performance benchmarking report highlighted what many care home operators already knew: they are spending too much money on lighting, heating and other utilities.Scott-Sanderson

Healthcare is one of the UK’s most energy intensive sectors. The NHS currently spends £750m on energy costs every year; a figure which could be reduced by as month as 20% through using energy efficient measures the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) reports. The care sector specifically could also noticeably reduce energy overheads.

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There are many opportunities for care homes to generate their own energy power in the future, not only cutting the home’s long-term energy overheads, but also reducing its environmental footprint. Energy generation isn’t the only option either. Care homes looking for more immediate, cheaper energy efficiency can achieve it by identifying, reviewing and reducing their current energy spend and implementing much smaller systems and procedures.

The NatWest report recognises that “even low and no-cost actions can usually reduce energy costs by at least 10% and produce quick returns” in the healthcare sector.

Energy generation to achieve energy efficiencies

  • Biomass boilers are a potential replacement for oil/gas boilers in order to generate heat. As well as qualifying for subsidies through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), these boilers could reduce yearly bills by almost 50%.
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are used to simultaneously generate both electricity and heat; converting useable heat that’s produced during the process of generating electricity. CHPs can increase energy reliability and reduce energy costs.
  • There are a range of other energy generation sources that care homes may wish to consider, including solar power, wind power, Heating, Ventilation and Control systems (HVACs) and Air Source heat Pumps (ASHPs) to name but a few.

Energy management to achieve energy efficiencies

  • Audit your current energy spend to analyse processes and identify potential opportunities to reduce energy overheads.
  • Create a culture of energy efficiency. Use notices and stickers around the home to raise awareness of ‘switching off’ lights.
  • Consider investing in LED bulbs (and any other high efficiency lighting). LED bulbs are often seen as a more cost-effective solution, but are also an extremely effective way to achieve energy-savings by upwards of 50%.
  • The diversity of care homes – by size and facilities used – means that there is no universal energy efficiency methodological. When thinking about implementing energy efficiency projects/processes in the care sector, consider your own energy output and operations primarily.

Tax-savings available to care homes investing in energy efficiency

With the potential significant initial set-up costs involved in funding new energy efficient redevelopments in the care sector, the availability of generous tax-saving opportunities could provide welcome relief to operators throughout the UK. You can find more information on Annual Investment Allowance and its impact on the care sector here.

Scott Sanderson began his career with Hawsons and trained as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a partner in 2015, specialising in the healthcare sector and small businesses. www.hawsons.co.uk

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