Professional Comment

The Energy Crisis In Care Homes: Solutions For The Sector

By Tim Ross, Commercial Energy Director at Advantage Utilities (

Given the Energy Bill Relief Scheme offered by the government has now drawn to a conclusion, the net result for many care facilities is that their electric and gas, invariably entrenched within the top 5 areas of expenditure, will inevitably become the subject of heightened concern.

Whilst today’s wholesale costs are well below the peak experienced in late 2022 which initially evoked support levels, it seems increasingly likely that the onus will remain on private organisations to be proactive in managing their electric and gas expenditure and mitigating the increases as far as possible, with no further government interventions announced.

With wholesale energy markets seemingly more settled, albeit at levels nearly twice previously accepted norms, perhaps therein lies the challenge. Unfortunately, the challenge seems to be long-term in nature with many respected market commentators speculating that rates currently available could constitute the ‘new normal’ and last until at least the end of the decade.

That said, “In every challenge lies a greater opportunity.”

The cheapest unit of electricity is of course the one you do not consume and the best way to reduce overall energy expenditure – as well as enhance increasingly important environmental credentials – would be to reduce grid reliance. This can primarily be achieved by exploring options from an array of tried and tested on-site generation and energy efficiency technologies.

The great thing here is that the care sector is often very compatible with these technologies and tends to lend itself well to them given the consistent usage profiles, the structural configuration of many buildings and the tenure of occupancy spanning beyond the average of those seen in other industries.

Furthermore, many of these technology options are accompanied by a range of funding options which can include fully funded models and financed options facilitating solutions which are, at worst, cash flow neutral.

The most obvious example of this is a Solar PV solution which, dependent on a number of factors, could yield a saving of over 30% of energy costs per annum. Care facilities could also benefit from the likes Combined Heat & Power Units as well as various heat pumps.

From an efficiency perspective, LED Lighting upgrades constitute a quick and easy win, whilst Voltage Power Optimisation (VPO) can often facilitate a reduction in grid usage of between 8-12%.
Moreover, many care home operators may also wish to consider adding EV charging infrastructure, creating an additional revenue stream in the process.

Larger organisations and certainly those mandated to comply with ESOS legislation should also look to site audits in order to achieve a far more comprehensive and granular overview of savings opportunities.

Cliché as it may sound, “What you can’t measure, you can’t manage.”

The importance of getting a handle on your energy usage through a suitable platform should not be underestimated. This will not only help measure the impact of any technological lead changes, but will also provide a foundation for benchmarking, target setting and staff engagement.

Additionally, carbon statistics can also be incorporated to help towards measuring progress around realising any carbon reduction ambitions.

To summarise, regardless of whether you consider this situation to be a crisis, challenge or indeed an opportunity, not being proactive and taking swift and decisive action surely isn’t an option. Much can be achieved and given the increasing availability of expertise in the field, it needn’t be onerous nor a drain on internal resources in order to unlock substantial benefits. By considering both on-site generation and energy efficiency technologies, care home operators can make significant savings on their energy bills and simultaneously enhance their progress towards net-zero.