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Energy use in museums

One of their biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions for most organisations is energy consumption, such as gas and electricity use. The more energy your building consumes, the more greenhouse gases you generate. This is influenced by a number of factors, including your energy supplier, the tariff you’re on, and the energy efficiency of your building. 

There are many useful tools available online to help understand or audit your energy use. The Energy Cost Calculator UK  tool compares the use of different appliances in estimated costs by energy usage and the time they’re running for. 

Museums can face many challenges when it comes to energy use. However, there are ways you can improve the energy performance of your building which can help to lower both your bills and your emissions.   

Conducting energy audits

One way to understand energy consumption is through energy audits (sometimes called energy assessments). These are assessments, usually carried out by an external, specialist company that assess the energy requirements and efficiency of your organisation. It will consider the structure of your buildings, how it operates, what appliances you have, how and when they run and provide a detailed report explaining your current energy performance and where improvement and efficiencies could be made. These can be done either in person and on site, or over the phone.

The benefits of an audit can be wide ranging and may include:

  • Identify cost saving opportunities in energy efficiency
  • Improve on carbon emissions
  • Get compliant (or ready for future legislation)
  • Gain a deeper understanding of your business operations and behaviours
  • Accurate data and analysis to help support commercial decisions
  • Enhance your own sustainability reputation
  • Highlight potential for energy efficiency grants
  • Lower exposure to energy price hikes
  • Drive down energy costs

Energy audits will not be suitable for all museums as the potential savings for one may not outweigh the cost of the assessment, or where energy saving actions are relatively simple. It’s possible to carry out your own energy audit by setting some time and resource aside to do some basic research and explore your building and operations from this viewpoint. For example, look for any draughts from your windows or leaks coming in through your walls.

If you think a DIY energy audit is for you, you can find advice and checklists online, such as:

You can find more information on energy efficiency improvements for your building in our Climate Action advice guides.

For larger organisations or those with more complicated energy requirements, an audit may highlight significant long-term savings and emissions reduction. Conducting an energy audit can be a good first step in ensuring your organisation is operating as efficiently as possible. Energy audits are a legal requirement for companies in the UK with over 250 employees through the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

It’s important to remember that you are not required to undertake any of the recommendations or suggestions of an energy audit.

Although an energy audit can be tailored and is unique to your own building and organisation, general areas of focus include:

  • Assessing your current energy usage. This includes getting an inventory of all energy consuming activities during a working day, including areas where it is being lost or wasted.
  • Planning improvement and costs. Here alternative options are drawn up for improving your organisations energy performance with the costs, benefits and pay-back time all quantified.
  • Implementing your findings. This last stage is the implementation of some, or all the steps outlined in the audit. These can be done at your own pace whenever is most suitable for the business.