British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

Energy Conservation

Energy Conservation

Saving energy is one of the best ways to combine good business sense with going green. Many energy saving initiatives, such as 'switch-it-off' campaigns, can cost next-to-nothing and will save you money; but even those that require investment (such as a new efficient boiler system or solar panels) can provide significant cost savings over time.

Energy efficiency should be an on-going project, so it's a good idea to keep tabs on your electric, gas and other fuel bills (many energy supply companies or other consultants will do this for you and send you regular reports on your performance). If you can cross-check your consumption with your occupancy levels, then you'll get a good feel for how energy efficient your business is. From there you can review where the energy use 'hot-spots' on your park are. This will help you work out how best to make significant savings and how to maximise the impact of any investments you make. (For more information on how to plan and manage your energy conservation activities and on how to draw up a park action plan see the Park Environmental Management section). It is, of course, particularly important to consider energy issues when renewing or renovating buildings, caravans or other items of equipment as this is an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the game.

Energy efficiency involves a combination of improving the efficiency of the lighting, heating and other energy using systems on your park and using these devices and systems in the most efficient way possible. This means that staff must be involved (and where necessary trained) and visitors encouraged to 'do their bit'. This can be done through signage, a leaflet in your welcome pack and through word-of-mouth encouragement. Don't forget that transport is part of the energy-use equation – and here the participation of your visitors is key.

Lighting

Lighting can use a hefty 20-40% of electricity costs. One of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of energy used for lighting is to fit low-energy lighting which uses less energy and last longer than old-fashioned bulbs. Low energy lighting includes: compact fluorescent bulbs, slim fluorescent tubes or high-frequency lighting. LED lighting is another high-efficiency choice which can last even longer than compact fluorescent options. The internet is a good resource to use when searching for energy-efficient bulbs – it is now possible to find low-energy solutions for most applications, including lights on dimmer circuits and water-proof external lighting.

An EU phase out of non-efficient light bulbs will be fully implemented by 2012, so this is work you should already be doing. When using fluorescent tubes use high efficiency versions such as T5 if possible. For outdoor lighting use high-efficiency options such as low pressure sodium (SOX) and high-pressure sodium (SON) and compact fluorescent bulbs.

Another key step to improving the performance of lighting is to install occupancy and daylight sensors, which will avoid lighting empty spaces or places lit by daylight and therefore save money. A simple 'turn it off campaign' can also be highly effective.

Heating and cooling

The choice of boiler is one of the most important factors that dictates the energy efficiency of a heating system. The most efficient boilers in terms of saving money are called condensing boilers. Models are available that run on LPG, natural gas and oil and they can achieve efficiencies of over 90%.

To find the most efficient boiler that will meet your needs visit SEDBUK's boiler efficiency database (www.sedbuk.com) - you should, if possible specify an A-rated boiler. You can also find details of efficient commercial boilers on the Enhanced Capital Allowances website (www.eca.gov.uk). In larger premises (such as swimming pools and leisure complexes) a heat recovery system (that recovers heat from ventilation systems) can be a good investment and will reduce energy use.

Maintenance of heating systems is vital - energy consumption can increase by 30% as a result of poor or no maintenance.

Replacing air conditioning? Then look for A rated appliances (under EU energy labelling scheme). Also look at the Enhanced Capital Allowances website for the most efficient commercial systems. Among the technological advances is ‘free cooling' technology that optimises the performance of the cooling system by monitoring external air temperature.

Fuel choice

The article published on page 31-35 in issue 132 the BH&HPA Journal highlighted the environmental case for LPG over oil and electricity noting that LPG did not pose the same spillage hazard as oil and that LPG has the lowest carbon emissions out of all the fossil fuels available in rural areas – LPG emits 19% less CO2 per Kwh than heating oil. He also noted that LPG is highly compatible with renewable technology.

Controls and settings

Good controls for heating and cooling systems are vital and not only save energy but also produce a comfortable environment for occupants, and reduce plant maintenance costs. Controls can range from thermostatic controls on radiators and rooms thermostats to more complicated zoned building management systems.

Of course, setting heating and cooling controls at the right levels is key to using the optimum amount of energy. Heating controls should be set no higher than 24°C, hot water thermostats at 60°C. If you use air conditioning then this should be set at 19°C or higher.

Grants and Loans

There are a number of grants, loans and tax breaks available for energy efficiency improvements or for the purchase of renewable energy technology. For example, the Carbon Trust provides loans for small or medium-sized enterprises. See www.carbontrust.co.uk for details. For details of tax breaks and a list of eligible equipment go to www.eca.gov.uk. For grants for renewables, check out the DTI's low carbon buildings programme (www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk).

things to try header

General:

  • Monitor energy use and use this information to focus your energy conservation work.
  • Conduct regular energy use assessments to highlight opportunities for cutting your fuel bills.
  • Have an energy conservation policy in place which gives you targets to aim for.

Lighting:

  • Use low-energy light bulbs wherever possible.
  • Fit reflectors behind fluorescent tubes.
  • Review how your lighting is set up – make sure it is effective and that unnecessary lighting is not used.
  • Fit controls that turn lighting off when it's not needed (e.g. motion-sensor or timer systems).
  • Involve staff and guests in ‘switch-off' campaigns (through training and signage).
  • Install ‘light tubes' to channel natural light into dark corners.

Heating:

  • Fit high-efficiency oil or gas boilers (SEDBUK ‘A' or ‘B' rated).
  • Install instantaneous hot water systems and ensure hot water storage tanks and pipes are well lagged.
  • Fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), thermostatic controls on hot water tanks, zoned thermostats or time clocks in public areas.
  • Ensure that walls and roofs are well insulated.
  • Double (or triple) glaze windows and seal up any draughts.
  • Review how your lighting is set up – make sure it is effective and that unnecessary lighting is not used.
  • If you must have air conditioning, choose the most efficient with good controls and use it wisely.
  • Involve staff and guests in ‘turn-it-down' campaigns (through training and signage).
  • Work with your architect to design-in energy efficiency for new buildings.

Other energy-using devices:

  • Use energy efficient appliances e.g. fridges and freezers with A-rated eco-labels.
  • Keep all appliances in good repair e.g. seals on fridges and freezers tight.
  • Use roller towels not blow dryers in public toilets.
  • Make staff and guests aware of how to use electrical devices efficiently (e.g. full loads in washing machines).
  • Switch off devices rather than leaving them on standby.

Transport:

  • Encourage guests and residents to use public transport by providing information/ timetables etc.
  • Provide a mini-bus service to local town/attractions.
  • Encourage park staff to use bicycles (or feet) to get around.
  • Investigate LPG and electric maintenance vehicles.
  • Provide bicycle hire/loans for guests.
  • Provide local walk information on notice boards.
  • Set up a staff green transport scheme (e.g. car share).
  • Provide caravan storage facilities.
  • Provide advice to holidaymakers on green driving and details of how to get to your park by public transport.

More information:

  • To compare the efficiency of different boilers you can use the database at www.sedbuk.com. The Carbon Trust will do an energy audit for you (for free if you meet their criteria) and advise on cost-effective ways to save energy. See www.carbontrust.co.uk for details.
  • Click here for an in depth article on energy efficiency, complete with examples of what parks are doing.