In business it’s all about the bottom line, so when you weigh up investing in new technology or an office refurbishment, chances are you want the guarantee of a financial return.
Well, we’ve got some good news for you. Investing in properly installed, well chosen smart technology can help save you on office operating costs while also improving operational efficiency and staff productivity.
If you’ve ever wondered whether your business could save money by getting smart, the answer is, yes it can. Here’s how…
Smart heating and cooling
It’s estimated heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) accounts for 43 per cent of electricity used in office buildings, so employing some serious smarts to curb this expenditure will definitely pay off.
The truth is many business owners are making the following mistakes when it comes to heating and cooling:
- Using air-conditioning or cooling the wrong time of the day
- Using too little or too much heating and cooling
- Heating and cooling when there’s no-one there
- Heating or cooling areas that no one uses at all
This is where sensors and smart thermostats can assist. Smart sensors can detect when there’s no-one present and switch heating or cooling off or scale it back to economy mode.
Smart thermostats can be programmed to turn HVAC on earlier in the day, to cool the office before the heat kicks in or warm it early and offer a comfortable environment for when staff arrive.
When combined with automation, thermostats can also readily respond to ambient conditions, while working in conjunction with other heating and cooling methods like ventilation and automated blinds.
Australian Government website Energy Cut notes lighting accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of most businesses’ electricity costs, and for some it can be as high as 50 per cent.
Smart lighting and technology like photosensors and programmed “routines” can play a major role in reducing these costs.
Motion sensors can determine when there’s no-one in a room and turn lights off, photosensors can detect the ambient light available and shut lighting down when there’s enough, while routines can help with the establishment of zones and lighting patterns that operate throughout the day in response to prevailing conditions.
A great way to curb energy consumption is to use techniques like interior or exterior shading to reduce the temperature of a building, as Energy Cut explains:
“In summer, a lack of shade around an insulated building can lead to what is called ‘the oven effect’. After the sun’s radiant heat passes through the glass and into the building, the heat inside the building increases. This can lead to a spike in your cooling costs.”
Automated blinds, awnings and louvres are a great way of addressing this issue. With smart technology a rise in the building’s interior temperature may prompt blinds to draw or awnings to unfold in a bid to reduce that harsh sunlight.
Alternatively, blinds and awnings may activate as part of a routine at a set time of day when the sun hits a specific part of the building.
Managing IT and equipment energy consumption
IT and appliances are like the silent power consumer of the business world, because often these items are left on standby overnight when really they should be switched off at the power point.
There is a range of smart solutions available to assist – from smart power boards that switch off the power supply when a device is left in standby to power points that can be monitored for their power consumption. When installed as part of smart ecosystem, smart powerpoints can even be automated to turn off or be switched on or off remotely.
Smart electricity management
One of the major benefits of smart technology, and particularly full automation, is that a smart ecosystem and hub like Fibaro can tell you exactly what power you are consuming, where.
That means you can readily ascertain the amount of electricity your business is using, gain a better understanding into where that electricity is being used, and then take action to minimise the cost.
Importantly, you can also then program your office to be more energy efficient. For example, you might set up routines that shut down the office for the day. These routines could be activated by voice command, via app on smart phone, computer or tablet, or can simply be programmed.
This closing routine could see:
- HVAC shut down
- Desk power points and other specific power points switch off, thereby turning off IT equipment, printers, modems, coffee machines etc
- Lighting turn off
- Smart locks employed to lock specific areas
Smart technology not only saves money, it has the potential to improve workplace productivity and efficiency.
At its simplest, the smart office saves time, enabling workers to concentrate on their job, but the upshot is an office environment that is more comfortable, more intuitive and allows for better efficiency, productivity and economy.
And there are a number of key ways this takes place:
- Through the automation of routine tasks
- Through an office environment that automatically caters to comfort via automated and individualised lighting, temperature control, and ambience.
- Through automated scenes that allow the office environment to transition from one stage of the day or event to the next.
Meanwhile, a UK survey conducted in 2017 by British Land, found 90 per cent of decision-makers see a business reason for working in a smart office.
The Smart Offices: A 2017 Vision for the Future study targeted over 1063 London businesses and found 87 per cent of decision makers say they’ll require smart technology in their office the next time they move.
Key features office workers are looking for include:
- Self-adjusting lighting and window shades (53 per cent don’t have this but think it would be helpful)
- The ability to personalise heat and light settings for one’s immediate space, and have those settings follow you around the building (53 per cent)
- Circadian lighting systems that mimic natural daylight (51 per cent)
- Heat and lighting systems that adjust automatically according to weather and occupancy (50 per cent)
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.