If you’re an electrician and you have your own business, your first concern may not be for the environment.
You have bills to pay, customers to service and a materials shortage to contend with, not to mention rising energy costs that affect all aspects of your electrical business.
Thinking about the environment may not seem like a priority.
The thing is, it should be.
The biggest mistake many small business owners make when it comes to sustainability is to underestimate the value of going green.
Being more environmentally conscious is not just about caring for the planet, becoming environmentally sustainable will allow you to become more sustainable in all aspects of your business. That means cutting costs, securing more business and holding on to more customers.
By going green, everyone benefits.
So how can electricians get in on these benefits and how will going green make your business more sustainable? Find out in these 11 tips.
Working in the electrical industry can produce a lot of waste.
It may be odd bits of wiring or it might be spare tubing or other materials left over from a job. Whatever it is that gets left, even if it’s small quantities of material, you should hold on to it and try to find a new use for it.
Over time, if you make the effort to reuse and repurpose these materials, you can reduce your waste by a significant amount. Further still, extending the use of your materials allows you to save on costs, as your current supply lasts longer and expensive replacements are required less often.
You will also find that by producing less waste you reduce the size of your landfill tax bill, which can add up to considerable savings.
Combining a strategy of reusing and repurposing with recycling can allow you to massively reduce total waste and will save you a lot of money.
Almost any electrical equipment can be recycled, with companies such as Electrical Waste and Pure Planet Recycling offering solutions that recover up to 98% of all waste.
It’s the classic mantra, the one you will have heard at school, on the news and on the street…turn off your lights. It may feel like a tired trope, but the truth is, the message is important.
In 2022, 30% of all purchased energy is wasted, which accounts for millions of pounds in costs UK-wide. By taking the time to turn off your lights and switch off your appliances you can save massive amounts of wasted energy, and reduce accumulated costs.
You should particularly consider devices and appliances left on overnight or while you’re not using them. These kinds of devices are some of the worst culprits for power drain and can really add up to large amounts of wasted energy and incurred charges over time.
When you’re wiring a job for a customer or attaching lengths of cable for a business, it’s important to try and be as efficient as possible with your materials. Rather than using long stretches of convoluted cabling, plan what you're going to do and choose the most direct and efficient route possible.
Unnecessarily long cables will incur costs on all fronts. Not only do you go through your wiring and other materials more quickly (which costs you money), but the longer the cable the more energy is wasted across the cable, as energy is lost while transporting the current, which means your customers also operate at less efficiency.
Using the minimum amount of cabling is good practice on all fronts, it allows you to create a more neat, tidy and efficient working environment, which saves on waste materials, saves on costs and allows your customer to be more energy efficient. It’s a win-win on multiple fronts.
Telling an electrician to think about energy-efficient light bulbs feels a bit like preaching to the choir, but it is still worth reminding yourself how important this is. How many of your light bulbs and other appliances are as energy efficient as they could be? Have you taken the time to make sure your own home and business is operating with the most efficient electrical appliances?
Light bulbs are just the start, but how can you hope to encourage your customers to switch to a greener choice if you don’t practise that in your own business?
Taking some time to review your business's energy efficiency and ensure you’re using efficient light bulbs (amongst other appliances) is an important thing to do.
If you’re the specialist, make sure you're practising what you preach.
How you move about is important. Whether that’s the vehicle you use to get to a job or the transport your staff use to get to the office, all of this matters and can add up over time.
Consider introducing a car share scheme, perhaps offering rewards for employees who group together, or you could set up a cycle-to-work scheme to get people out on their bikes and out of their cars.
You should also think about your work vehicle. Do you use a van to get to your jobs? If you do, could you consider switching to an electric van? In the UK the sale of fuel-powered cars is set to be banned from 2030, so getting ahead of the curve and investing in an electric van may be a smart idea.
If you wanted to really go for it and you work within a city or fixed radius, you could even consider cycling to your jobs. One plumbing and electrical business are already doing this, using electric bikes to travel to all of their jobs in the Bristol area.
Unnecessary packaging is one of the biggest causes of waste amongst trade businesses. In fact, up to one-third of all waste produced on construction sites is produced from packaging.
To combat this problem look at ways you can improve the way you purchase your materials. Have a discussion with your supplier or consider alternative ways of purchasing, such as buying in bulk. This could help you to reduce your waste packaging and even reduce costs.
For many electrical businesses, this may sound like a pretty obvious piece of advice, but when you’ve got a lot to think about it can be easy to get into bad habits without realising it.
When you’re working on a job always think about how necessary an extra light bulb or an additional wall socket really is. Every outlet you install is going to encourage and produce more energy usage which in turn has an environmental impact. Without inconveniencing the customer, encourage them to consider using fewer outlets and try and be more efficient with where you install them.
A light bulb or a socket placed intelligently can be accessible and useful from a number of different locations. Effective planning and understanding of what the customer needs can allow you to save on costs both financially and environmentally.
Despite the arrival of the internet and the development of so many amazing digital tools and resources, many electricians and other tradespeople are still using paper records and outdated tools to manage their business processes and create quotes for their customers.
This method of doing business is not the most efficient nor is it the best for the environment. Any business that uses a lot of paper creates a lot of waste and even if you do recycle your paper, this still uses energy in the process.
The solution: paperless, digital quoting and invoicing, and job management software designed for electricians.
If you haven’t yet heard of it, quoting software is a digital platform that allows you to create quotes and invoices on your phone or laptop and send them directly to your customers. There is no need to manually write up paper quotes. Using pre-prepared templates, you can create a quote and send it to your customer instantly. Read our blog on what is quoting software for more information.
This method of quote creation allows you to reduce your environmental footprint and save on expenses too. If you’re interested in finding out more about some of the top providers of quoting software check out our guide on the best heating engineer software tools you should be choosing from in 2022 (this applies to electricians too).
As an electrician using green materials may not seem like a viable option, you may question what kinds of environmentally sustainable materials there are available to you. The good news is, there are materials out there that you can use to become more ecologically positive.
The best place to start is to look at the metals you work with, certain metals are more easily reused and recycled than others and have a better environmental footprint. For example, aluminium is a great green metal as it can be easily recycled and has a very long lifespan.
Other options available include biodegradable circuit boards and graphene-based circuit breakers.
Some of this technology is still very new and may not be easy to use on a small scale, but taking some time to do some research and looking for opportunities to use these materials where possible, makes a big difference. In particular, when doing contractor work or working on a larger project for big businesses, the opportunities to use more cutting-edge technology are much greater.
Keeping yourself informed and up to date, will allow you to seek out the right technology and understand where you can use a better option.
Of all the steps you can take to make yourself and your business more environmentally friendly, educating your customers is up there as one of the most important things you can do.
As a specialist in your industry, your customers will look to you for advice on how to manage their electronics and look after their appliances, the advice you give them and the direction you point them in will have a big impact on their behaviour and how they interact with their electrical equipment.
Educating your customers, and explaining to them how they can make small changes to be more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, will have a lasting impact. The changes you make will affect your business, but by speaking to your customers you can have a much more lasting impact on hundreds of customers.
What's more, by encouraging a more eco-friendly approach you will find there is more opportunity to upsell better quality products and services to your customers. You will find people are more likely to spend more on the most efficient lighting if they understand that it will be better for the environment.
Promoting yourself as a sustainable business goes hand-in-hand with educating your customers.
You will find that many customers are eager to try and find more sustainable solutions and by marketing yourself as a green electrical company, you will be able to attract more customers than before.
In fact, studies have shown that just by making an active effort to recycle, over a third of small businesses found that their reputation within the local community improved.
By Promoting yourself as an environmentally friendly electrician your electrical business will directly benefit too.
In 2019 the UK was ranked 2nd for the most waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) produced per capita in the world, a pretty damming statistic even if it was from 3 years ago.
As an industry, electrical businesses have a responsibility to take action and try and reduce their impact on the environment.
As we have attempted to show, you do not need to make big changes to improve your business. Even if you implement just a few of the tips we have suggested in this article, it will have an impact.
Furthermore, it’s important to realise that going green doesn’t require a financial sacrifice but is actually a great opportunity for your business. Becoming sustainable is not just about looking after the environment but about making yourself more efficient in all aspects of your business, allowing you to save money and do good at the same time.
So don’t delay, make your electrical business a green business today.