A recent survey of businesses’ attitudes towards energy and the environment found that, on average, SMEs rated energy management and reducing energy consumption at just 6.1 out of 10 in terms of significance to their business.
Many SMEs reported a lack of time and resources to invest in energy saving initiatives, but a few simple and inexpensive methods to increase energy efficiency can yield real environmental benefits, as well as significant cost savings.
Just switching off equipment, such as computers and photocopiers, overnight could save the average office £6,000 a year according to the Carbon Trust, while further savings can be made by simply installing energy-saving light bulbs.
Recent research conducted showed that a pub with an annual energy bill of £20,000 and a significant carbon footprint could reduce the amount of carbon it emits each year by more than eight tonnes and cut its annual energy bill by over £2,000 through simple energy saving steps.
A lower carbon footprint and reduced energy bills are not the only benefits of an energy efficient workplace: a number of large corporations have instigated carbon reduction initiatives and are encouraging their supply chain to follow suit.
A growing number of companies are beginning to realise this: 24% of SMEs questioned in the nBEI expect that reducing their carbon footprint will provide new commercial opportunities. This represents a substantial increase and the number is likely to grow as businesses and the public become more aware of the need to consider energy efficiency in business operations.
Many major power suppliers are working closely with their customers to develop a detailed understanding of their energy needs and providing them with the tools to achieve cost and CO2 reductions without calling on sizable capital investment.
This can range from a simple energy audit to a detailed analysis of equipment and machinery to identify potential improvements. The UK has been set on a path to a Low Carbon Economy - the challenge now is to join the journey and start by taking control of energy consumption.
These top five tips should help businesses begin to reduce their energy usage:
- If you don't measure it you can't manage it’ - track your energy use by recording the meter reading every week on a spreadsheet.
- Instruct a qualified electrician to fit an energy monitor. Familiarise yourself with how this works. Once fitted, establish what the average daily readings are around the business. Also establish what the lowest reading should be at the end of the working day when non essential equipment is turned off, and make it a part of your routine to check this every evening; if the reading is higher than normal something has probably been left on that needs to be turned off.
- Turn off unnecessary lights. Each twin 58 Watt fluorescent fitting costs £23 a year to run.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Standard incandescent lamps (bulbs) are inefficient: 10% light and 90% heat. A 20 Watt low energy lamp in place of a 100 Watt incandescent lamp could save you around £16 a year.
- Have boilers professionally serviced. Maintaining your boiler could save you up to £120 per year if you currently spend £400 on space heating bills.
By following these energy saving initiatives, businesses will be able to save themselves considerable amounts of money on power, as well as reducing carbon footprints, so it makes sense to do the research, get the advice and implement energy saving ideas.