Proactive action: how to take care of increased energy costs in healthcare

Published: 29-Jan-2024

Steve Kenny, VP and General Manager at MK Electric discusses increased energy costs in healthcare

With the colder months soon upon us and energy bills expected to rise, this winter is likely set to be a difficult period for many businesses. As such, energy consumption remains a growing concern for organisations globally. In fact, due to the number of critical equipment and devices across large estates, healthcare organisations are perhaps among those most vulnerable.

High energy costs can place serious financial strain on healthcare facilities, diverting funds that should be used for patient care, equipment, or even staff salaries.

The increase in energy expenses may also force hospitals to reduce valuable resources available for patient care and medical equipment.

The potential for expensive energy bills to limit the level of available patient care is a reality, but there are ways for healthcare organisations to proactively reduce their energy output.

Proactively addressing energy usage

Healthcare organisations can significantly reduce their energy usage and, therefore, bills by implementing various strategies. One highly effective strategy is to set up building systems for occupancy monitoring and control.

Considering in any given hospital there could be hundreds of rooms, some of which aren’t always in use, adopting energy-efficient lighting and implementing motion sensors to control lighting could be a great first step.

Similarly, optimising heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems based on room occupancy is another way to improve energy efficiency, allowing HVAC systems to conserve energy when rooms are unoccupied.

High energy costs can place serious financial strain on healthcare facilities

However, whilst these particular examples could certainly improve energy consumption, they do come with a cost investment. As such it is important for healthcare organisations to also look toward other approaches that are just as effective in reducing energy usage, but without substantial upfront costs involved.

In line with the strategy of managing systems around room occupancy, one of the easiest and most cost-effective areas to consider is plugged-in devices. Historically, the approach to addressing appliance energy usage would be for healthcare organisations to schedule widespread employee training, educate staff on energy conservation practices, and encourage them to simply turn off appliances when they’re not in use. This can help reduce costs without a large upfront investment, but this is dependent on staff maintaining these practices — something that is difficult to rely on.

Small power and its significance

Small power usage – the volume of power consumed by power outlets and plugged-in devices – can account for up to 25% of energy consumption in a minimally efficient building1 or as much as 50% in buildings that have already installed high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems2. With this in mind, addressing the small power usage of a hospital could help lead to significantly reduced energy usage.

Although the power requirements of individual devices pale in comparison to the consumption of HVAC systems, there can be hundreds of electrical devices in any given healthcare facility – from computers to water coolers and fridges, which collectively account for a significant percentage of a building’s energy use.

Nonetheless, whilst employees might have every intention of being mindful about turning appliances off, given the large number of outlets in one hospital alone, this becomes increasingly hard to monitor.

Although the power requirements of individual devices pale in comparison to the consumption of HVAC systems, there can be hundreds of electrical devices in any given healthcare facility 

In the past, controlling small power had its challenges due to the lack of capabilities to monitor it. Electrical sockets were typically not integrated into a hospital’s building management system (BMS), but today modern technological solutions such as MK Electric’s Connected Power make it possible to connect electrical sockets to the BMS, allowing constant insight and control of small power loads.

These solutions can help identify any sockets throughout a healthcare facility that have been left on unnecessarily as well as any devices in sleep mode that might consume electricity without staff noticing.

With a suitable strategy implemented, such as utilising modern technology, hospitals and other healthcare organisations can begin reducing the power consumption of electrical outlets without making sizable upfront investments.

At the moment, increased energy prices have imposed significant challenges on healthcare organisations which are likely to continue into the future. Therefore, it is vital that hospitals take matters into their own hands to help reduce building energy use as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.



  1.  US General Data Administration, Plug Load FAQ, Poll, S. and C. Teubert, 2012 [Accessed: 10th August 2023]
  2.  Buildings Institute, Plug Load Best Practice Guide – Managing Your Office Equipment Plug Load, July 17, 2012 [Accessed: 10th August 2023]

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