Saving energy means saving money. Whether you are a domestic energy user or a business, this is something you should be doing. You can take simple steps, such as switching off appliances and lights when they are not needed and installing a smart meter to monitor your energy usage.

Searching for the best business energy supplier when your contract is up can sometimes help you make substantial savings.

But what other options are available to increase energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and save money on electricity bills? One option available to domestic or commercial premises is fixed voltage optimisation.

This guide will look at voltage optimisation and how it might benefit you and help you make significant savings on your electricity bill.

What is voltage optimisation?

Voltage optimisation technology is used to regulate your incoming power supply, either in your home or business premises. Determining the optimum supply voltage for appliances and electrical equipment helps reduce excess voltage and electricity consumption.

As well as helping to reduce your energy bills, it also helps your business reduce its carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly.

It will be worth checking the voltage and taking readings around the premises to see whether you are receiving a higher voltage than necessary. If you are, you might want to consider optimisation as a way to reduce this.

Checking your electrical loads to find out whether they would use less energy if the voltage is lowered as well as checking older equipment to ensure it will be able to operate on a lower voltage, is also recommended.

How does voltage optimisation save energy?

Installing voltage optimisation technology in business premises will match the supply voltage to your electrical equipment for more efficient performance, helping to reduce the energy consumed.

The UK mains supply is an AC voltage frequency of 50Hz and 230V. The tolerance level allows up to an additional 10% or 6% less, meaning the allowed range is from 216.2V to 253V. Receiving a higher or lower voltage level from the national grid supply can result in poor performance from electrical equipment.

Another issue that can come from receiving a higher voltage is that appliances or electrical equipment consume the higher voltage. An energy-saving voltage optimisation system will change the voltage received from the national grid to the correct level necessary for the items in your commercial premises.

According to the UK trade association for manufacturers and providers of energy infrastructure technologies and systems, BEAMA uses a voltage optimiser to reduce the supply voltage to help with average energy savings of up to 13%.

It is difficult to accurately predict any savings that could be made as it will depend on the current incoming voltage and the electrical appliances involved. In order to get an accurate idea of the savings that could be made when you install a voltage optimiser, a thorough site survey would have to take place.

A site survey will be able to establish the suitability of a site by understanding the load types and how they are applied.

Following these steps should give you a better idea of the savings you can make;

  • Complete site survey to determine the current voltage and what power is required.
  • Determine what the voltage drop should be across the site.
  • Measure the voltage-dependent loads.
  • Pinpoint any critical voltage loads.
  • Calculate the potential savings that could be made.
  • Determine the power rating for the voltage optimisation system.

How does voltage optimisation work?

Voltage optimisers from different suppliers may differ, but generally speaking, they work by taking the voltage required for the business premises from the National Grid to be used by the electrical equipment and appliances on-site. Surplus energy would then be returned, so no energy is wasted.

This system helps to streamline energy consumption and boosts supply. In a time that businesses are being urged to be as environmentally friendly as possible, it not only help to reduce energy bills but acts as a good PR for customers looking for more socially responsible businesses to shop with.

You will have a choice of three voltage optimisation systems;

  • Variable voltage optimisation - This works to reduce energy to a predetermined level by using variable electronic voltage optimisation technology.
  • Fixed voltage optimisation - This sets the incoming voltage supply to a specified level.
  • Combined / Integrated transformer - Not as typical as variable or fixed voltage optimisers, these integrated systems are relatively new to the market and offer a combined system.

Depending on the size and type of business, huge savings can be made. Businesses might already shop around for the best-priced business energy supplier and initiate other energy-saving techniques to help save money and energy. This will help ensure the power supply is as efficient as possible.

Your new voltage optimiser would normally run alongside an existing transformer. However, some combined units are now available on the market that combines optimisation and regulation.

Selecting the right optimiser for your needs will depend on your needs. Optimisers that closely manage the voltage should theoretically produce better results, but the initial cost will be higher. Fixed units offer more stability and are less likely to need regular maintenance.

Your choice will be influenced by your budget, business and equipment type, and long term plans.

Pros and cons of voltage optimisation?

If you are considering installing voltage optimisation technology in your commercial premises, you will need to decide whether it makes sense to do so for your individual business needs. One of the best ways to do this is to weigh up the pros and cons, and this will then allow you to make a fully informed decision.

Pros of installing voltage optimisers

  • The technology is specifically designed to streamline energy consumption and reduce waste.
  • Streamlining energy consumption can result in lower electricity bills.
  • Streamlining energy consumption help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and become environmentally friendly.
  • This technology has been used for over 100 years, is tried and tested and has been proven to work.
  • Individual appliances, electrical equipment and lighting will have different percentages of energy savings.
  • Voltage optimisers can be installed at the low voltage incomer or distribution level.

Cons of installing voltage optimisers

  • Installation of voltage optimisation systems can disrupt the power supply.
  • The initial cost of installing voltage optimisation systems can be relatively high.

Considering short, medium, and long term business plans

Deciding on whether voltage optimisation is right for your business will depend on a number of factors. Here are some of the most important things to be considered to determine whether this will be cost-effective and benefit the business in the long run.

Business Considerations

Considering your short, medium, and long-term business plans will help you decide whether the installation of voltage optimisation technology in your business premises is going to be worth it.

Take some time to look into the reductions that could be made and the subsequent energy savings. How long will it take for the savings to offer a return on the initial investment? Do you currently use enough electrical equipment or appliances to warrant the initial investment? Is this likely to change in the future? These are all things you will want to think about.

Premises and business strategies

If you are on leased premises, you will have to think about how long you plan to be there and whether it is long enough for you to see a return on the investment.

You will also have to think about whether you plan on upgrading or expanding the business. If there are likely to be significant operational changes in the future, you might consider moving to bigger premises. Due to the high initial cost, voltage optimisation should only be considered if you plan to be in the premises long enough to see a return on the initial outlay.

Current and potential energy consumption

It is important to consider current energy management implementations, potential voltage variation issues on-site, the expected benefits, and whether this will impact future equipment upgrades.

General site and operational considerations

Understanding how your business plans to develop will also have a part to play as you may regularly have to replace or upgrade equipment.

You should also take into account any known issues with the electrical infrastructure on site. This may have to be addressed prior to the installation, depending on its nature.

How do I choose a voltage optimisation supplier?

When selecting a supplier to install a voltage optimisation system, it is vital that you do some research to ensure you get the most qualified professionals for the job.

One way to ensure a supplier's suitability is to check whether they are a member of VOICE. The Voltage Optimisation Industry Council for Excellence is a self-governing body, independent association that is made up of voltage management equipment producers in the UK.

Any supplier that uses the VOICE logo must adhere to the standards and code of practice. For further information about VOICE, you can email or call 0844 585 3043.

Searching for a voltage optimisation supplier is similar to searching for a new business gas supplier or electricity supplier. There will be a lot of great options, but taking the time to find the right one to suit your individual needs can help to save you money and result in a better service.

Remember to use our quick and easy comparison tool if you are on the lookout for a new business energy supplier. As well as looking at the best tariffs for you from the Big Six, we also check what smaller energy suppliers can offer to ensure you find the most suitable energy solution for your business needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

You will have to consider how quickly you will see a return on investment for the initial cost. This will be determined by the size of the business and what type of equipment is used.

Large scale businesses that rely on high electricity consumption for equipment or appliances are far more likely to benefit from this than a business that has minimal electricity usage.

It is also worth considering whether the equipment you use is voltage-dependent. If they are, it could affect the performance. For example, Halogen or fluorescent lamps would see a reduction in the light produced if the supply voltage is reduced. LEd lighting that has integrated circuit based drivers will not be impacted in the same way.

If you are considering voltage optimisation, it can be worth seeking expert advice on how beneficial it will be to your circumstances based on your operational needs and equipment.

When you look at monthly bills over the course of the year, you will see fluctuations due to different circumstances and variables each month—because of this, comparing bills before and after installation can be difficult as you may find it difficult to see where savings have come from.

Looking at between 3-6 months of bills before and after the installation should be able to give you a better idea of how voltage optimisation has affected your bills. You will still have to take into account any mitigating circumstances that may have had an impact.

Voltage optimiser installation is relatively simple when carried out by qualified and reputable suppliers. The time it takes for the installation process will vary depending on on-site requirements. Speaking with a qualified electrician prior to installation should help you get a timescale.

Installation is likely to impact the power supply to your operation. However, it is possible to arrange it for out of hours to minimise disruption. This would allow the electrician to turn the power off for a more extended period of time without impacting the business.

Though the process is relatively straightforward, the installation process does require a lot of planning. You would not usually have the inconvenience of having to contact your business energy supplier to let them know that the installation is taking place or to switch off your supply. The supplier will usually deal with the supplier if any arrangements have to be made.

You may want to check with the supplier if the equipment being installed will have a by-pass switch. This is handy if maintenance is required as it would avoid your business having to go without power for any extended periods of time.

Some equipment will come with internal by-pass systems making maintenance easier. It is worth noting that if an optimiser with a by-pass switch needs to be fully replaced, an outage would be necessary to install the new one.

The night that your shutdown occurs will have been thoroughly and extensively planned and prepped. Older buildings of over five to ten years tend to offer better savings. However, this does mean that you need to be prepared for any potential issues that arise.

Minimising potential risk is essential for the smooth running of the operation and having your own team of electricians or, if relevant, refrigeration engineers available can help.

Another option available to you will be appointing an independent project manager who will oversee the installation process. This will be dependent on the budget, though.

Voltage optimisers are usually fitted at the building's main supply intake point. This is generally between your electricity meter and the consumer unit.

If space is restricted, locating the voltage optimisation unit further away from the building intake point is possible. It can then be fed via cables to the mains supply intake point.

It is a requirement that fully qualified electricians in the UK fit voltage optimisation units.

Voltage optimisation does work, but you will have to check to ensure that equipment and appliances will still work if you choose to install the technology.

Voltage optimisation has been used for over 100 years to streamline the voltage supplied and reduce energy consumption in homes and businesses around the world.

As power demand increases, so does the call for better energy efficiency from environmental protestors, customers and governments.

Voltage optimisation is a proven technique that will help to reduce your businesses electricity consumption, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce energy costs.