Saving energy for small and medium businesses – the smart way.
How much are small businesses paying for their energy?
Figures for 2016 suggest that the average business in the UK is currently paying £2,258 per annum for its energy, at an average kWh unit price of 9.5p and a daily standing charge of 20p. There’s plenty of scope for SMEs to save money on these costs with cheaper tariffs and smart metering options.
What are the major blockers to energy efficiency?
The Federation of Small Businesses has found that three of the main blockers to saving energy for small and medium businesses are: lack of interest in energy costs, working from rented or leased operational premises or a lack of funding for efficiency measures. However, funding needn’t always be a concern – energy savings can result in an attractive payback period and there are some funding schemes available for certain ‘green’ investments.
Think! How can you reduce your energy use?
When saving energy for small and medium businesses, the best reductions come from implementing an array of measures consistently across the business. Typically, the most powerful results come when there is an internal focus on energy reduction measures as part of a broader efficiency drive – engaging staff, encouraging internal commitment and demonstrating the results to encourage further progress.
Save up to £1,000 per annum
Group energy purchase schemes
Small and medium businesses across all sectors can save money on their energy bills by clubbing together to buy as part of an energy collective. An example of this is run by the Federation of Small Businesses, who claim that energy club business members could slash their electricity and gas bills by 23%, saving up to £1,000 per annum from the average business bill. The FSB has also found that 70% of businesses are currently struggling to accurately compare tariffs (if any one person is even responsible for this in a firm) and a whopping 43% of businesses have never switched at all!
Energy review services
For saving energy for small and medium businesses, firms can also contact their local Chamber of Commerce to find out about energy review and saving services that exist as part of broader carbon efficiency measures. These are largely free to businesses because they are funded by government money and they help businesses to take advantage of carbon-reducing energy efficient measures – saving money and improving efficiency in the process. They will also help businesses to access any funding or subsidies where it is available. For example, businesses which invest in their own green energy systems such as solar power, micro wind generation, biomass or micro CHP can earn an additional subsidy-based income as well as save money on their energy costs. An example of one such service that is publicly funded and open to all businesses is Enworks (http://enworks.com/).
We’ve taken a look at 4 sectors but any business stands to save…
Restaurants & Cafes
Businesses in the food and leisure industry can save money on their energy by training their staff on efficiency usage measures and by installing energy-efficient boilers and appliances across their kitchens and dining spaces. They can look at green energy solutions such as biomass boilers which may be able to use waste products from the kitchens for a cyclical recycling approach.
The retail sector is a tremendously heavy user of energy where physical premises are in play. Stores have lighting and heating requirements around the clock, so one of the first priority areas is to carry out a tariff review to see if savings can be made. Lightbulbs should also be switched to the most energy-efficient LED models. If you have chilled units, keep them away from doors and keep them covered with blinds to prevent chilled air from escaping. Evaporative condenser systems – rather than air-cooled condensers – are also recommended as being more energy efficient.
Heating and air conditioning is a real energy guzzler, and older systems are particularly inefficient and can also lead to health issues. Consider investing in the newer models and ask a specialist to review your premises with the view of recommending efficient heating and cooling methods. New smart technologies can adjust the temperature automatically to optimise usage and bills. Similar technologies can be used in bathrooms to minimise water usage, such as smart sensor controls on taps. Intelligent light controls are also a worthwhile investment. Making sure staff are turning off PC screens and electronic equipment at the end of the day should be a high priority. Action Energy, a government-funded body, estimates that £90m is wasted annually by UK companies that leave computers turned on when not in use. As well as energy and cost savings, there’s the environmental impact too, as reducing this would produce a saving of one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Again, smart sensors can help to ensure that temperatures are optimised correctly in warehousing and production spaces, and staff training can help ensure that teams follow the correct efficiency processes and are motivated to seek out continuous energy improvements. An energy efficiency consultant can be a valuable service to use in a larger factory as various efficiency savings may be possible, including running lines at certain times of the day, switching tariffs, using standby functions and investments such as combined heat and power installations, supply voltage optimisation and increased process automation.
All small businesses will also benefit from the government rollout of new smart meters. These will send meter readings for gas and electricity automatically to suppliers and provide in-depth usage data to help businesses to understand their energy usage as a first step towards reducing it. Smarter Business recommends you speak to your energy supplier about getting a smart meter as soon as possible and nominate at least one person in the business to be responsible for monitoring and reviewing energy usage data.
Creating an efficiency culture
Saving energy for small and medium businesses can also be achieved by engaging their staff in the process and communicating their intention fully and regularly. Make it fun with competitions and incentives and be clear on the drivers for greater efficiency: cost savings, fewer carbon emissions and greater sustainability (a great marketing tool for winning new business) and a more profitable business that benefits everyone! Create internal groups of staff to drive forwards initiatives and ideas for running a more energy-efficient business and roll in other initiatives such as recycling in order to create a broader efficiency culture. Lean processing is an example of a tool that can work well here, especially in contact centres, manufacturing, retail and other process-driven operations.
The smarter solution
Smarter Business is already saving energy for small and medium businesses. We manage, monitor and save on their energy and we’d like to have the opportunity to discuss your requirements further. For any more information on how to reduce energy and save money, or if you just want a quote, please contact us.