Greener Care Homes

The UK has pledged to be net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (Scotland has pledged 2045) which is part of the global requirement to limit the damaging effects of climate change. To reach these net zero targets, then we must establish a net zero economy. However, to create a net zero economy across the UK, all businesses will need to change how they operate. 

Each business sector will, in turn, be encouraged to be actively greener in how they do business. It can seem over-whelming, particularly when we’ve had to deal with staffing shortages, pressures on finance on top of our day-to-day business of providing excellent care.However, as this agenda becomes more pressing, we will see this emerging in contracts from the NHS and other public bodies.

DCHC is going to be highlighting some simple tips and actions to help. Being greener can mean cost-savings and we all need these! 

For a jargon demystifier – click here

Please also check out our Greener Care Guide.

Top Green Care Homes Tips:

Tip 1 - Measure Your Carbon Footprint

Measuring your carbon footprint - We are all very used to tracking our finances but most of us don’t track our carbon footprint.

There are now some easy to use and free calculators online.

Measuring your carbon emissions can seem complicated. You’ll read about scope 1,2 and 3 – but they are more simple than they sound.

Scope 1 = ‘direct emissions’. Generally, these are fuels burned on site e.g. gas, or company vehicles.

Scope 2 = ‘indirect emissions’ from energy you purchase rather than own or control e.g. electricity.

If you have your utility bills or you take monthly or annual readings, you can measure your carbon footprint of scope 1 and 2 using the Carbon Trust carbon footprint calculator.

Once you’ve mastered that, you can progress on to tracking your ‘scope 3’ which is the carbon emissions from your suppliers.

The SME Climate Hub  has a really good, simple tool to use. Don’t worry at this stage about being too precise, some info is better than no info at this stage.

Tip 2 - LED Lightbulbs

LED: Switch all your lightbulbs to LED ones. Switching your 100w incandescent light bulb can save you £9 per year for every bulb (you will also reduce your CO2 emissions by 5kg).  

  • A TIMER? Assess where in your home you could fit a timing switch on your lighting (this prevents lighting being left on unnecessarily).
  • MOTION SENSITIVE: It may not be suitable for every room due to safety implications, but this product has been used by one of our members. It dims the light and therefore it’s energy consumption.

Tip 3 - Greener Products

  • Can you switch to greener products? CLH, one of our gold sponsors, has a commercial eco-friendly range from ‘TRECOS’. These come in concentrate form and could give you a cost-saving on your current range. They are more than happy to have a conversation around changing to greener alternatives.
  • Another option is TOUCAN-ECO which is a clever system. It simply uses water, salt and a small electrical current to create a powerful multipurpose antibacterial disinfectant cleaner in 5mins. It can replace general disinfectant, all-purpose cleaners, kitchen and bathroom cleaners but is not a de-greaser or a deep cleaning product. There’s a minimal initial outlay, which will vary according the size of your home, but after that the cost is simply salt.

Tip 4 - Guardians of Grub

Guardians of Grub - What a great name for a campaign to reduce food waste. Time to ‘fess up, its not ours but is used by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance to encourage less food waste. The UK’s Hospitality and Food Service Industry throws away 1.1 million tonnes of food each year and they reckon 75% of it is avoidable. What is it in our care homes? Each care home will be different. Some use services like Apetito, individually pre-portioned and many cook from scratch. Waste can occur with either system.

Understanding where our food waste is coming from is important.

Spoilage – during delivery or in storage. Does the ordering process need adjusting to avoid wastage?

Preparation – food that is thrown away during the preparation such as off-cuts. Are there ways to use these?

Plate – food wasted after plated. Are the portion sizes over generous, are residents offered different sizes? Are garnishes wasted?

If you know how much waste is coming from which part of the process, then you can work out how best to tackle it.

Reducing food waste saves money and is better for the planet. There are lots of really useful resources on the Guardians of Grub website.

Tip 5 - Get Staff Thinking 'Greener'

Get your staff to start thinking about being ‘greener’ in their owns lives. If staff start to have more of an understanding, then they’ll bring that into how they work as well and come up with greener care ideas that could be money-saving too.

There are numerous free tools online. The Climate hero calculator only takes 5 minutes to complete. Make it fun, start a discussion in your team, have a ‘best green’ ideas box. Have a ‘Climate Champion’ in your home.

Everyone will need to be thinking about how to be greener in our lives and have less impact on the planet.

Tip 6 - Eagles Mount Care Home

Eagles Mount Care home is the UK’s first Carbon Neutral Care Home. DCHC has reached out to both the care home and their partner Carbon Neutral UK to learn more about this.

From our research, it looks like Carbon Neutral UK link to various projects in order to ‘offset’ your carbon emissions. To be honest, the first thing to do is to try and reduce your carbon footprint by following our tips.

However, even when we are all using renewable energy, limiting our energy usage, buying and using goods sustainably, reusing and recycling, we will still have a carbon footprint. Offsetting may still be something we need to do. 

Sustainability Meetings / Webinars

Sustainability and Energy Meeting 25th October 2022

Spectrum Group supplier, Maximeyes, gave a really interesting update on the energy and solar markets for DCHC at the sustainability meeting on 25th October. The meeting recording is available here. Key points were:

  • Both gas and electricity wholesale markets are still very high. Electricity being quoted at 60p per kwh. Wholesale is forecast to reduce by 50% by Summer 2023 and then again through 2024 and 2025. Remember that the wholesale element is only part of your bill though.
  • Maximeyes do group buying and will provide quotes for your utilities. It could be worth getting them to quote. If you do go ahead, they can also provide advice and reports on how to reduce energy usage and save money.
  • There are conflicting messages about the likelihood of planned energy blackouts as rumoured in the press a couple of weeks ago. Maximeyes will keep us informed but their view is that priority businesses such as care homes are not likely to be affected. Having said that, we know that power cuts can happen, and we need to make sure we can manage our homes safely.

For those interested in solar, supply chain issues have eased a little but average lead time is about 3 - 4 months. There is a temporary tax relief, 'Super Deduction' available until the end March 2023.

Click to view the Sustainability and Energy PowerPoint Presentation

Click to watch the Webinar

Spectrum Webinar 25th August 2022

Spectrum invited one of their preferred suppliers, Maximeyes, to host an open discussion with members, to discuss the energy crisis and market trends.

Here’s a few of the key points:

  • The markets are completely unprecedented but there is some talk of the high wholesale rates easing in early to mid 2023 but it’s not a prediction with a high confidence level so don’t buy based on it
  • One example of the increase in energy costs was from a home in Surrey. They calculated it was costing an extra £20 / bed / week and requested support from the Local Authority. No news though.
  • General feeling was that both providers and LAs are extremely concerned about financial viability.
  • One of the services Maximeyes offers is group buying. The 2023 basket is likely to be opening in September. In a normal market, group buying can mean a discount of 10-12%.
  • They buy not just for care homes, but hotel groups, dentists, pharmacy groups and dry cleaning companies, but all contracts are still held by the individual companies.
  • They will also quote on renewable energy solutions and are strongly recommending solar. According to their data, where solar offered a 6 year payback, this is now at 2.5 yrs approximately. Solar has a guarantee of 25 years, but is expected to last significantly longer.
  • Optimeyes is part of Maximeyes and provides ‘power generation’ services i.e. will conduct solar projects.
  • Battery storage is generally more beneficial for the domestic market. However, there may be instances where it is cost-effective in a care home.
  • Super deduction tax is open until April 2023. 
  • Where a home cannot raise the capital or wishes to, 3rd party funders may be interested and obviously would look to share the benefits.
  • The current crisis is being used by energy brokers to scaremonger, so treat deals with caution.

View the Spectrum Maximeyes Webinar Slideshow

DCHC Energy and Sustainability Session 29th June 2022

Click to watch the Webinar

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