Is Winter Finally Over?

I think it is safe to say that the elements can affect the running of our everyday life. After what seems like the longest winter EVER, I’m left reflecting on little things that have slowed me down in recent months.  Ice as thick as a yellow pages waiting for me and my elbow grease sitting on my car windscreen at 8am. Slippery pavements that make me walk to the corner shop like Torvil and Dean after a night on the tiles.

Then I think – there are measures I can take to avoid these things. With a little bit of thought (and several bottles of de-icer), I will be prepared for the fun that next winter holds.

While we all know that with the exception of the festive season, summer is the busiest time for our battered leisure industry, the occasional bit of sunshine that we do get combined with increased pressure on bar systems can really test the efficiency of your units.

We are now starting to see the inevitable summer increase of calls for systems not working correctly. It’s Sod’s law isn’t it, we only really need it for a few months of the year and it fails just as we need it the most! But why not beat the chance of a summer break down by taking precaution and getting your units serviced before what will hopefully be a mad summer rush.

We all know how much the upkeep of a cellar cooler can cost, which is why STS are currently running a special offer on maintenance visits at the moment for £60.00* which includes a full before and after report on your system.  Depending on the last time your system was serviced you will recoup this cost by increased energy efficiency alone.  You will also reduce general wear and tear and increase the useful life of that equipment. Of course a service will not guarantee your cellar cooler will last forever, but regular servicing can save you a great deal of time and money.

Don’t be caught out, I won’t be.

*price does not include VAT

Brrrrr Isn’t It Supposed To Be Spring?!

The March temperature report has been released from the MetOffice. If you were wondering why the sun is making such a late appearance this year, then here’s a fact for you; at 2.7°C this year has seen the coldest March since 1892, which registered the same temperature. Indeed, you have to go back to 1883 to find a colder March.

Whilst we’re all reaching for our hats and scarves, our cellar breeze customers are reaping the benefits of this positively dismal weather, as all their cellar refrigeration is resting while Cellar Breeze takes over and saves money.  Cellar Breeze is a very simple concept that has already proved itself to be very effective. Case studies show that you could save up to 90% of the energy that currently goes into your cellar.

For more information on cellar breeze, please call our office on 0800 4585056 for a free survey, or you can book a free energy survey today to find out how you can save money, reduce costs and get peace of mind.  We are currently working with a commercial energy broker, who can assure you that you have the best deals as well as knowing that you are minimising your energy usage.

Good Advice Isn’t Expensive, It’s Priceless

I recently visited one of my long standing customers to look at how they could reduce their energy costs. Working with Dave Skeels from Complete Eco, we found that we could save the hotel 50% of its current energy spend each year which is amazing and got us very excited indeed.

The easiest thing in the world would have been to go running back to the hotel and say sign here, it’s a no brainer as they say. Well that’s where we’re different. Our next job was to analyse the figures and I’m glad that we did. The project return on investment was ok but not so impressive with a payback of around four years so we started to break the project down and look at individual components which is where the nuggets lay.

The return on one aspect of this project was twelve months and would earn the hotel in excess of £3000 per year which is brilliant. This could have then paid for the parts of the project at the other end of the spectrum where payback was longer. Analysing the figures more I found I could save the hotel an amazing 71%!

Unfortunately for the hotel, head office has done an international deal with a leading manufacturer who is a household name.  As a result, the hotel is now limited to the products and services delivered by this manufacturer, meaning they could miss out on around 20% of potential savings.

The manufacturer has not even visited the hotel and the maintenance manager has been told to expect someone to come and do a count up, whatever that means! The manufacturer has only presumed to understand the hotels needs and considerations instead of getting into the specifics of each business.

Denis at Rowlinsons Solicitors has a saying,

“good legal advice isn’t expensive, it’s priceless”

This doesn’t just apply to the law, it applies to every part of your business, from legal and financial to marketing and strategy as well as, of course, technical.

Please ask the experts in their fields for help and advice, a lot of the time it’s free and could save you time, money and heartache.  For a free energy audit and report on how we could save you money in your business please contact me directly on 0800 458 5056. We are not a one size fits all company and pride ourselves on that fact. My job is to save you money, whether that be on energy costs, life cycle costs or parts and labour costs, that’s what I love, and that’s what I do.

Things That Go Clunk In The Night

Clunk.

“What was that noise” Caroline asked as we left my Dads drive.  We were on holiday visiting my Family in Canada and the steering on my Dad’s car gave a strange noise as we drove off.

“ I’m not sure” he replied.  “ I’ve heard it before but it was about a week ago now”.  Glad that’s not my problem I thought and that was that until I spoke to him this weekend.

“How’s everything going”? I asked.  “My car has just cost me 700 Dollars” he said.  “It was making a heck of a noise through the steering column.  I was due an oil change before the winter any way so I took it in.  It turns out I should have taken it sooner.  What started out as an “O” ring seal developed into a $700 part”.

I managed to refrain from reminding him that it had been 8 weeks since we had been with him!  “That’s bad luck I said”.

The moral of the story is not to poke fun at my poor old Dad but to remind us that we all do this.  We bury our heads and hope that it will go away whatever it is.  We’re frightened to death of unscrupulous repair engineers who are going to try and sell us something we don’t need and charge us a fortune in the process.  If only it hadn’t happened now. Just think it’s never a good time is it?

In the refrigeration game our kit always fails when we need it most.  We’re full tonight and the Cold Room failed over night.  There was a leak in the cellar and we’d just put a full keg of beer on.  Sunday Lunch and the oven isn’t working.  It’s the hottest weekend of the year and the Cellar Cooler has packed in again.

Please find yourselves a reputable company who you trust and who keep you informed on what’s going on and why, save that number to your phone, or write it on the side of the unit and when things start to go wrong call them.  Ask.  Get some trusted advice and make an informed decision.  It could have saved my Dad about $600.

More Than Changing a Light Bulb

Well, the inevitable has happened – once again in time for our cold and damp winters!

British Gas and N Power have stated that prices are going to rise and the others will follow suit.  It’s easy to blame the energy companies – that‘s certainly my first reaction – but on reflection where do we really stand?  It occurred to me this weekend as Caz and I were walking Cassie (our faithful hound) around the Flash in Leigh that we’ve wasted energy for many years and are used to doing so.  Sure, we’ve heard that Gas and Oil are non renewable but, as we humans are often inclined to do, we’ve put off really understanding what it might actually mean and when.  It was really brought to light when the Daily Mail published an article suggesting we could be suffering from 1970’s type black outs within three years as power demands can’t keep up.  OFGEM say that the chances of this occurring right now is 1 in 3,300 but could drop to 1 in 12 over the next three years, as well as prices likely to be double what they are today.

That’s scary stuff, and what will happen in 5 years, and then in 10 years?

Fact One is that energy will have to be more expensive, which could be basic supply and demand or simply greed.  It’s also necessary I guess to try and force people to minimise what they use while technologies catch up.  I don’t think that there’s too much point looking for people to blame and we’re all in the same boat on this one!

Fact Two is the sooner we really look at and really understand how we use energy the better for ourselves and for our pockets.  The future is important here, don’t be misled into thinking that it won’t affect us or it’s one of those scaremongering things, three years!  So what do we do about it?  Change our light bulbs and switch them off when we’re not using them?  Well yes, that’s a great start but so many people don’t actually understand how they are using energy in their homes and businesses.  With all of the hype and marketing on renewable, and the chopping and changing between suppliers, we don’t really know which way is up, never mind what we should be looking at.

Last week we completed a number of energy audits for our customers and spoke to them about how they are using their energy and where savings could be made.  At Number Fifteens, a pub in Chester for example, we found a cooler which was running continuously because of a faulty thermostat.  This was never going to cause an issue for the client and so it would never have been noticed.  On its own, not a huge problem at £1.25 per day but when it runs for 365 days it equates to £457 a year at today’s prices, or about £900 per year in three years time if prices double!  How many pints of beer do you need to sell to raise £457? (To amuse myself I calculated this one at about 500 pints, just to cover one unit.)  You’re probably wondering if there were other savings to be made in a straight forward high street pub.  You bet there were, but I won’t spoil the surprise.  We’re also looking at the Park Inn Hotel in Leigh this week, along with many others.

If you’d like a free, no obligation energy audit and are based in the North West, please contact our office on 0800 458 5056 or email us [email protected].  Remember, energy savings go straight to the bottom line for your business.

Is your cold / freezer room taking care of you and are you taking care of it?

Last Monday morning I came down ready to leave for the office, and as I left the front door I noticed that my car had been broken into right outside my house. The last thing I need on a Monday morning! All my tools were stolen and a dampener was put on my day. I needed a plan B. Luckily, I had a van and some spare tools at work, but what would I have done if I hadn’t been so prepared? I would have been stranded, lost a day, and out of pocket. Although not out of the odds, it’s not something I ever expected to happen to me.

Nobody  ever expects a fire, but we all know where the fire escapes are.

If your Cold or Freezer Room were to let you down today do you have a plan B?  Hopefully after reading this you might have an idea of what you can do if trouble comes knocking, and what to do to keep it away in the first place.

We often get called out to cold rooms at a point when it’s just too late and customers are pulling their hair out.  It’s sods law that you’ve just had your delivery and guess what, that pesky alarm which has been ringing out for the last couple of days rings out again.  Your heart rate goes up along with your blood pressure as you realise that yes it’s Friday, will it last to Monday?  Will I lose all of my food?  Worst case Environmental Health comes in and gives you what for.

So what are you going to do?  What could you have done and why?

  1. You need to have your trusted refrigeration engineer’s number stuck to the side of the cold / freezer room because you might not be there when the worst happens. Call the Engineer and get an estimated time of arrival.
  2. Note down the time that you believe the unit to have failed.
  3. Is the outdoor unit working?  You’d be amazed at how many people don’t know that there is even an outdoor unit, never mind where it is!
  4. Prepare space in working fridges as quickly as possible.
  5. Remove all high risk food groups ASAP to a working fridge taking care not to over flow them and block air flows.
  6. Turn the unit off in the cold room to reduce unnecessary heat.
  7. Keep the door closed and restrict access.  This will reduce heat ingress to the room.  The air temperature will rise more quickly than the food temperature.

The World Health Organisation suggest in their document that correctly specified cold rooms should maintain a temperature below 10 degrees for at least 8 hours.  This will depend on age, entry and environment.  I would suggest 4 hours.

What could have been done?  Some basic maintenance by yourselves can help prevent units working overtime and inefficiently.  It is worth noting that a poorly maintained system will very easily use in excess of 10% more energy and will compound each year that the system is left.  This 10% will pay for the maintenance and increase the life cycle of the system meaning fewer repair bills, less down time and stress as well as delaying the time when you will eventually need to replace the system.

Keep a look out for hints and tips on keeping your systems up and running as efficiently as possible. We are currently offering a free no obligation energy audit for businesses in the North West. Please contact the office on 0161 971 7300 for more information.

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