Some businesses can save money by using different energy sources. Some have a specific requirement to do so, for example in an area where gas mains are not connected – or where the requirement is for portable devices such as patio heaters and garden heaters.
Clearly in these latter cases, the businesses in question are likely to be catering ones. Butane gas is used for cooking, and in a place where the gas mains are not connected – such as a campsite, or in a fart flung country village – it’s necessary to look at alternative ways to keep the business going. Gas cylinders are often used in these circumstances.
General business improvement through energy use comes in a number of guises. A full retrofit may see a business changing the way that it heats its premises, or the manner in which lighting energy is generated and used. New insulation can help lower the cost of using gas central heating by making it less necessary to use it at all. Segmenting large open plan areas into smaller, glazed areas allows a business to isolate specific parts as heating zones – thereby more accurately controlling how much heat is used where.
The basic calculation for improving the energy use of a business is this – if you only use heat and light where and when you need it, you can take much better control over your energy environment and thus significantly reduce the amount that you have to pay. Control is achieved by segmenting areas in which energy is used, as noted above, and also by implementing measures designed to drop the overall amount of energy required to reach a specified heat level in a given area.
There is a school of thought which says that the amount of energy needed to produce a defined amount of heat within a specific area is always the same, no matter what. To an extent this is true. Heat energy is measured in absolute terms, as joules or kilowatt hours. It takes an absolutely known quantity of joules (for instance) to develop a known quantity of heat. Therefore it is theoretically impossible to warm a room to a specified temperature using any less energy.
The difference lies not in how much energy is expended in creating the heat, but in the length of time for which that energy must be expelled at a constant level in order to keep the designated area warm. A room or area that has been exceedingly well insulated, and is small enough to be heated sensibly, can be made to achieve the desired heat (using the constant amount of energy already discussed) within a quick timeframe; and, because the insulation keeps the warm air in, can then maintain that specified temperature over a reasonably long time period, before the heater needs to kick in again to raise the overall level back up.
There are dozens of technologies available to help businesses make the most of their energy. Dimmer switches, low energy light bulbs and sensor operated lighting systems are all counted in this category. In some cases, using portable gas heaters to add extra heat on cold days may also represent a better use of energy: rather than ramping up the heating to fill too large a space (again as discussed), gas bottle heaters can be used to provide extra heat stops within the floor plan.
Norris is a heating engineer. He uses Calor gas heaters to add extra warmth in office buildings in winter.