Case Study: Barchester Care Homes

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Barchester Care Homes

Barchester Care Homes are one of the UK’s most respected care home companies, providing award winning care and services to residents across the country. Since the business was founded in 1993, it has grown rapidly and now cares for over 10,000 people living at one of over 200 homes. Residents’ needs range widely – while many are in good health, others require nursing or convalescence and some are in full-time care – but all must be cared for with warmth and sensitivity.

Barchester’s 200 properties are broad ranging also: extending from new, purpose-built buildings to large, drafty properties. Every one, however, must be well heated and lit, and must support a full range of care services. Providing these involves considerable energy usage and cost, and in 2010 £1m was spent on electricity.

Energy Monitoring & Management

Rising energy costs; both increasing usage and ever higher prices, are more and more a concern, and late in 2010 Bill Wilson, Group Operations Director determined that action was needed to get these under control.  Notwithstanding, any changes or economies would need to be made carefully and sensitively, given residents’ needs and, for some, vulnerabilities.

As a starting point therefore, Bill needed to build a much greater understanding of what exactly was driving his energy costs, and where it was safe to reduce them.

Our Method

Barchester care homes decided to call on expert help to understand its energy cost and Green Running was selected as a supplier and consulting partner.  The company was chosen for its leading energy monitoring products and also its proven, systematic approach to reducing energy costs.  One Green Running consultant was engaged for a few days to guide and support the Barchester project team.

Green Running’s e Analyser product provides a simple and highly effective way of monitoring and controlling energy usage. Its finely calibrated monitoring capability, with data tracked at sub- sub-second intervals, allows Energy Managers to spot when exactly devices are switched on and off, making sense of an otherwise extensive stream of data.

Pilot Project

A pilot project was undertaken at one of Barchester’s Care Homes, with e Analyser used to track usage and identify priority areas for savings.  Green Running’s proprietary 5-step approach was followed to help the project team identify exactly where energy was being used – and where it could be saved.

Peter Davies, Green Running’s project leader, explains:


“We use this methodology in all of our assignments and it’s now well proven. First, we track each major circuit over an extended period, normally a week. Then we look systematically at the data, to see what’s driving costs. We find clients are regularly surprised at how much energy is being used without anyone realising and how easy it is to start saving.”

Results So Far

– Three months into the pilot, Barchester Care Homes are starting to see tangible results from the effort.  Highlights to date include: One third of total consumption is driven by Baseline activity – energy being used round the clock, including when staff and residents are asleep.  Unlike many organisations Barchester can’t cut this spend to zero, but achievable savings include managing heater temperatures, replacing  highly inefficient static water boilers for “always available” tea/coffee machines and switching off televisions and other devices on standby.

– Kitchens are often heavy energy users: ovens are big consumers, and are often routinely switched on many hours before they are needed.  Barchester Care Homes kitchens are no exception – and a source of significant savings.

– Often, significant savings can be made by reviewing which devices are run from each of the three “phases” found in industrial buildings.  At Barchester Care Homes this had actually been managed very well – and the “phase angle” was found to be 97% efficient.

In total, based on the pilot results,Barchester Care Homes are now aiming for over £1m annual savings across the Group – a remarkable return on an investment of less than £20,000.

The pilot results look really promising. I can see how with a bit of application we can easily save over £1m per year. The Analyser is a very neat product – easy to set up and use, powerful results, good reporting.

Bill Wilson

Barchester Care Homes