Energy bills are a significant cost to any business, especially so for small businesses where every penny counts. When sticking to budgets is a key financial target for your business, wasting money on energy is not an option. Citizens Advice know the devastating impact of uncontrolled energy bills saying that they see around a thousand or so small businesses a year, facing big debt problems because of energy bills or having been disconnected. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), small business owners can’t be blamed as there are clear market failures, as the right information from energy companies aren’t easily attainable. 53 per cent of small businesses in the UK have no methods in place to manage energy efficiency. A recent FSB members survey found that 58 per cent agreed that energy bills are difficult to understand and 70 per cent found it difficult to compare tariffs(1).
Here are a few ways in which you can save energy:
Audit your energy use
Before you can start to save energy, you need to have an understanding of where you’re using energy the most, the least and where it’s being wasted. Have a walk around the business and observe how your energy is being used and how it could be improved. For most business owners, the pressures of running a day-to-day business can mean energy efficiency is very low on their priority list or may not be on their priority list at all. Time is of the essence for all business owners and re-evaluating electricity tariffs takes time – having to sit down and go through all your bills and ring different suppliers for quotes. Appliances and technology that are old or worn could also be wasting large quantities of energy without you realising; upgrade your equipment to help eliminate waste and be more energy efficient.
Switch your lighting
For many businesses, lighting accounts for as much as 20 per cent of monthly energy bills. Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs make ideal replacements for ceiling and wall-fitted spotlight halogen lights, using around 80 per cent less energy, while traditional bulbs can be changed for Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). While installing these new lights may initially cost more, the savings over the next couple of years should mean they pay for themselves.. The Energy Saving Trust believes there hasn’t been a better time to buy energy efficient bulbs with their prices plummeting and quality improving. They say you can get the same brightness but pay £3 less a year for each old light bulb replaced with an energy-efficient light(2). Another option for your business could do is install motion-sensor lights so that they only turn on and off by detecting movement to help eliminate the effects of lights being switched on.
Stop using standby
One of the biggest wastes of energy for businesses is leaving appliances on standby; many businesses think this doesn’t make a difference but the cost can soon start adding up. A photocopier left on standby overnight wastes enough energy to make 30 cups of tea(3). Each desktop PC left idle for two hours a day will waste 3 pence a day(4); if you don’t want to keep switching it off during the day set up ‘sleep’ mode in your preferences – setting a time delay of ten minutes of inactivity tends to work well for most. Sleep mode uses just a few watts of energy, which is a big contrast to using a screen-saver, which consumes almost the same energy as having your computer monitor in full use. This doesn’t sound like much; but if you consider how many computers you may have on your premises and how this accumulates to the amount of wasted money a year, you may be in for a surprise.