Beccy, the Council’s Energy Officer, explains what her role involves and how her work is helping the Council to reduce its energy use and bills.
I started working in the Council’s Climate Emergency Team in September 2023, joining a team of six who are focused on helping both the Council and the borough to become carbon neutral.
As an Energy Officer, my role is to maintain the information about our gas, electricity, water and solar billing for all properties that the Council owns. Our properties can range from offices to recycling depots, and libraries to school sites. Altogether, the energy costs are around £13 million a year.
Energy bills can make up a considerable part of household costs, especially recently with the energy crisis, and the same is true for organisations up and down the country, whether in the public, private or third sector, so it is important to keep a close eye on these.
The day-to-day role involves a regular review of energy bills and making sure the costs are correct. It’s not all desk based though, and I am often out and about visiting properties across the borough to find the meter on site to take an accurate meter reading, to make sure our bills are correct.
As with household energy bills, utility companies can take estimated readings if they've been unable to gain access to one of our buildings to access the meter, which shows how much gas or electricity has been used. I visited one of the Council's buildings recently, in Chester, which had received lots of estimates. Once I gained entry and collected the meter readings, I was able to provide these to all the utility companies (gas, electric, water) which meant we were able to receive a significant refund for the Council.
I would always recommend that households also try and do this on a regular basis to help make sure that your own bills are correct. A smart meter should automatically take readings for you but it always worth checking every few months that these match what your actual your gas or electric meter shows.
As a Council we have a target to be carbon neutral by 2030, and we’ve made good progress on this, already switching to renewable sources of energy for a number of our buildings and introducing energy saving measures, such as LED lights. Reviewing our energy data regularly and providing reports, showing both the financial figures related to our energy use and the carbon this creates, helps services Council wide to manage their budgets and provides an accurate measure of the organisation’s carbon, something we continue to use as we implement our plans to reduce this further.
Although I’m only a few months into the role I can see how varied the job is, providing me with the opportunity to get out and visit different Council properties. My role means that I’m helping to save the Council money and reduce our energy use, and along with lots of other roles and services across the Council, is helping us to be one step closer to becoming a carbon neutral organisation.
You can read more about the Council’s plans to become a carbon neutral organisation in our Carbon Management Plan.