Another cold front has hit SA with a vengeance, and office workers around the country can be found to be tinkering with their individual heating and air-conditioning units, urging more heat from them.
News bulletins inform South Africans in no uncertain terms that energy is in short supply, while rumours of load shedding just will not subside. There is no doubt that if  small to medium-sized businesses have not considered a holistic energy strategy, there is no better time to do so than now.

“A widespread myth surrounding energy efficiency strategies is that an organisation’s role starts and ends with exchanging old light bulbs with energy efficient versions,” says Asanda Makanda, MD of energy services company, Manoa, which saves organisations money and ensures their sustainability by helping to improve energy efficiency and plan energy usage.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Budgeting for a holistic energy strategy is the natural starting point. Ideally, it should be built into an organisation’s building plans from the get go, in order to entrench the need for energy efficient behaviour.”
With the introduction of the SANS 204 standards, a building’s energy efficiency has never before been as important as it is now.
“The time to consider your energy strategy is when you are building the actual structure, or moving premises,” advises Makanda. SANS 204 outlines a code for energy efficiency, in order to limit energy consumption and to ensure that users do not run out of base electricity-generating capacity.

A well-designed, well-budgeted energy efficiency strategy provides clear and practical guidelines for the implementation of efficient practices, allowing for the immediate implementation of low-cost and no-cost interventions, as well as some higher-cost measures with short payback periods, notes Makanda.
She adds that every business, especially large organisations, would undoubtedly benefit by having an energy policy and strategy for its portfolio of buildings/companies.
Where to start
Implementing an energy strategy begins with undertaking a feasibility study, which involves a thorough audit of the business’s energy usage and requirements. After that, an accurate budget can be suggested intended to assist the business to begin to save future losses as a result of energy expenditure and taxes.

It is vital that both technical personnel and the business’s leadership agree on the process at that point, ensuring that a holistic solution is ultimately implemented – one that is best for the concern at hand, according to Makanda.

“An energy strategy helps ensure that an organisation is not wasting money, is reducing its carbon footprint and is benefiting from sustained financial savings,” Makanda explains. It involves creating a complete solution when taking into account every instance of energy usage.
A holistic energy policy would include audits and suggestions regarding the following areas of business, to name a few:
* Legal aspects regarding energy.

* Cost of supply study, such as wires/network costing and pricing
* Risk analysis
* Electricity market development and positioning in evolving market
* Tariff analysis, design and development
“The ultimate aim in SA is to create energy strategies for sustainable development that are actually able to be implemented immediately, and which will have a noticeable impact on the environment,” concludes Makanda.