Business profitability is a pretty topical subject at the moment. At a time when the UK is starting to return to some level of normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, most organisations are likely to be suffering some anxiety about revenues and profit. Cost reduction solutions will be discussed up and down the country, from cutting staff numbers to changing business suppliers.
Every company wants to save money and many companies now need to save money. The great news is, there’s a relatively simple way to do this and it all boils down to one element of any organisation’s cost base: energy. If you can reduce your company’s energy consumption, you’ll achieve costs savings. And the news gets even better. With small, low- and no-cost actions, most businesses will save at least 10% on their energy bills.
“A 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales for many businesses.”
Better Business Guide to Energy Saving by The Carbon Trust
Energy walk round
The first thing you need to establish is how your business uses energy. If you can see where energy is being wasted, there’s your first opportunity to address the problem and save money. Have a walk around your building at different times of the day so you start to build a picture of your energy use at the start of the day, during operational hours and at the weekend. Here’s a handy Energy walk round checklist from The Carbon Trust’s Better Business Guide to Energy Saving to get you started.
Heating can be responsible for 40% of your energy bill so it makes sense to target this area first and make sure your building is as energy efficient as possible. Heating is often provided in areas of commercial property where it’s not needed – like corridors – and overheating can result. Equally, heat is easily lost through draughty windows or doors that are kept permanently open. Check out when you last had heaters and boilers serviced and make sure the thermostats and timers are appropriately set.
Electrical equipment and machinery are also great places to find energy savings. Your walk rounds should check for electrical equipment that might be left on when not in use, assess your compressed air system for leaks, and make sure refrigerated equipment and areas are well maintained with good, intact seals.
Lighting is the next area to look at. Does your business use efficient LED or low energy bulbs? Do you switch off internal lights when they’re not being used and only use exterior lights at night? Labelling light switches will raise awareness among your employees regarding which lights should be used, as well as helping to keep your bills lower.
Once you have a good idea of your energy patterns and usage from walk rounds, you can supplement this information with a thorough look over your energy bills. How does your pattern of energy use change through the year? Have you seen any major increases in the amount of energy you use? If your business doesn’t yet have a smart meter, you could contact your energy supplier to ask for one: a smart meter makes it much easier to track your energy use.
What happens next?
You’re now loaded up with great information about your company’s energy consumption and ideas for how to reduce it. The final piece of the money-saving jigsaw is to take some action. Drawing up a plan of the improvements you’re going to make is a great first step, as is bringing your employees on board with the new initiatives. Why not put up some posters, reminding people why it’s important to save energy, and the difference they can make both to the company’s cost base and the environment?
Climate change is a growing concern for all of us. Adopting energy efficiency measures doesn’t just save your business money, they also help to reduce your carbon footprint, thereby fighting climate change. The UK government’s goal for net zero carbon by 2050 could be more easily achieved if smaller businesses get on board with reducing their energy consumption. That’s a powerful point to make to your staff and customers.
Make the Smarter Choice
Along with these energy saving tips, many SMEs will benefit from updating inefficient building equipment with a new energy saving technology – whether that’s wholesale replacement of low energy lighting, a new efficient heating and ventilation system, solar panels, or an overall building energy management system. Smarter Choices provides a straightforward, end-to-end service to help identify energy saving potential and implement a solution, guaranteeing a cost saving without an upfront investment. This government-backed initiative currently offers free energy assessments, monitoring equipment and account manager support to help develop and test the service.
Contact the Smarter Choices team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 7215031 to see how Smarter Choices can help you to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Alternatively, please do contact the BCGH team who will help you through the process and put you in touch with Smarter Choices.
By David Weatherall of Future Climate (a Smarter Choices founding partner)