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Business energy efficiency

In business, saving money can be just as important as making it. Your bottom line will benefit just as much if you actively seek new ways to save money on your overheads, as it would from seeing an increase in custom.

There are a number of ways that a business can reduce the amount that it’s spending on energy. You can actively seek ways to reduce the amount of energy that your business uses – through optimisation of your operating procedures - or directly reduce the amount you’re paying for your energy by staying on top of your energy contract, and switching whenever necessary.

If you would like to reduce the amount of energy that your business is consuming, or you’re looking for ways to save your business money on its utilities, we can help. Below we have put together a helpful guide to help get your business started on the path to energy efficiency and lower bills.  

Business energy saving tips

As mentioned above, one of the main reasons that business owners decide to improve the energy efficiency of their business, is to strengthen their bottom line. It stands to reason; the less money being spent on your small business’s utility costs, the more you will have in your bottom line to reinvest into growing your business. In fact, the benefits of having an energy efficient business are more apparent than ever with many new business owners looking to incorporate business energy efficiency as part of their business plan.

To get started, try some of the energy saving tips for businesses below:

Conduct an energy audit

When looking to improve the energy efficiency of your small business, your first step should always be to carry out an energy audit.

An energy audit helps you identify areas where your business could improve to reduce the amount of energy that it’s consuming. It can also help you to prioritise the changes that need to be made, in order to maximise the impact. For example, making low cost, or free, changes early on allows you to save your business money, which can then be reinvested into more costly, but higher return, solutions. 

Energy efficient lighting

One common area that many businesses look to first when going green is the way that their business premises is lit. This simple change can kick start huge savings in your business’s spend on energy. By simply switching the light bulbs that are used in your premises to energy saving alternatives, your business can expect to use up to 80% less energy for lighting, when compared to standard bulbs.

As well as changing your bulbs, many businesses also choose to install motion sensors to operate their lighting. This ensures that staff don’t inadvertently leave lights on when a room in not occupied.

You can also rearrange the furniture in your workplace to ensure that you’re making the most of the natural light that is available to you. By reorganising your workplace, you can maximise employee exposure to natural light, which will not only help reduce the amount that you’re spending on lighting, but it has also been scientifically proven to increase the productivity of your staff. 

Heating and cooling

The way that you heat and cool your business premises is another area that can provide positive benefits with relatively little work. Most modern businesses should be equipped with double glazing. If this is not the case, this is certainly one area that you should look to address first. Of course, there is some upfront investment cost involved, however this quickly offset by the savings that double glazed windows will introduce.

A slightly more cost friendly option is to identify areas where drafts are created. Do you have doors in your premises that are frequently used? Installing free-swing door closers will help with the heating and cooling of individual rooms, which can drastically reduce the amount of energy that is required to heat the most commonly used areas of your business.

Similar low cost solutions include:

Draft excluders - Commonly installed around doors and windows to reduce the amount of heat that escapes.

Radiator boosters – these work by reflecting lost heat back into the room, to reduce the amount of energy that radiators require to heat up a room.

Finally, you may want to consider reducing your thermostat by one or two degrees. Such a small change in temperature will most likely go unnoticed by your staff, but it can have a huge impact on your business’s utility costs.

Energy efficient computers and other equipment

If your business hasn’t updated its computer equipment - and other office appliances - in some time, then you may find that there are possible savings to be made here too. As with some of the above methods, there is some upfront investment cost involved, but in the long run, there’s a good chance that your business could save money overall.

Energy efficiency has become a more central feature of modern technology, so computers – even ones purchased within the last 10 years – could be using considerably more energy to operate than a newer, more energy efficient, model. In order to identify the efficiency of equipment, you should look for its Energy Star rating.

The Energy Star rating of an appliance is a recognised indication of its efficiency. So, the higher the rating, the more you can expect to save. If you would like to know more about the Energy Star rating system, click here.

Convince your staff to go green

As a business owner, there is only so much you can personally do to improve the efficiency of your business - inevitably some of the responsibility will lie with your staff. Arguably one of the most difficult aspects about going green in business is instilling the “green culture” within your staff, and then positively reinforcing it.

There are a number of ways that a business owner may look to achieve this. For example, you could use posters in the work place to constantly reinforce your green message, and then make any positive results visible to your whole work force.

Another way to promote green thinking is to make them stake holders in your business’s plan to go green. Try running a brain-storming session to identify new ways to achieve your green target, and even appoint members of your workforce to oversee the implementation of these measures.

For more information on encouraging your staff to go green, click here

Monitor your energy usage

Knowledge is a very useful tool when looking to reduce the amount of energy that your business is using. Installing an energy monitor in your business can help pin-point not only the areas, but also the times, that your business is using the most energy. With this information, you can then identify different ways that you can actively reduce the amount of energy that your business is using.

The introduction of smart meters in businesses is seeing more business owners becoming clued up on how they are using energy, and as a result UK businesses are becoming proactive about reducing their energy consumption levels.

Click the link for more information on smart meters and the benefits that they can offer small businesses

Install energy generation technology

Another way that you can make your business more energy efficient is by installing solar panels, and other technology, to generate your own energy.

Unsurprisingly, there is a considerable upfront cost for businesses choosing to take this route, however the government have a number of grants in place to help eligible businesses ease the initial financial burden of going green.

Energy efficiency grants for business

If you’re interested in installing energy generation technology, such as solar panels for your business,  it may be worth seeing if your business is eligible for any of the  grants below.

Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) that let businesses write-off the cost of energy-saving equipment against their taxable profit.

Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) give energy-intensive industries a discount on the Climate Change Levy – a tax introduced to encourage reduced carbon emissions and energy efficiency for businesses.

EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) provides incentives for businesses that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Green Deal lets businesses recoup the cost of implementing energy-saving improvements on their business premises through savings on their energy bills.

Combined Heat and Power is a process that simultaneously generates usable heat and power, reducing wasted by-product heat.

Salix Finance provides interest-free loans to public sector organisations who implement energy efficiency improvements.

For more information on available government grants, try the government grant calculator by clicking here

Small business utility costs

If finance is your main motivation for going green, then the most direct way that you can reduce the amount that you’re spending on business energy is to switch your supplier. By doing so you can seek out a new deal that offers lower unit rates for your energy, which will directly reduce your energy bill, as a result.

However, before you begin switching your business energy supplier, there are a number of steps that you need to follow.

Step 1: Make sure you’re within your renewal window

Business energy customers are tied into a contract, which means a business cannot switch to a new supplier until they are within their renewal window. This window typically opens six months prior to your contract end date. If your business is not within its renewal window then you will be unable to switch suppliers, or even receive quotes for a new deal, until you are closer to your current contract end date.

Step 2: Approach suppliers for quotes

Once you’re within your renewal window, you’re able to begin approaching suppliers to obtain quotes for your next energy contract. Unlike on the domestic market, where all products are predefined, business energy customers must approach each supplier individually for a bespoke quote on their energy contract.

Step 3: Apply for the contract

Once you have obtained your business energy quotes, and decided which one best suits the energy needs of your business, it is time to apply for the contract. To do this, you will need to contact the supplier, in writing, expressing your intent to proceed with their contract offer. You will also need to inform your current supplier of your intention to switch.

Step 4: Wait for your new supply to take effect

Providing there are no issues, the switch should be arranged by the relevant suppliers, and it will automatically take effect once your current contract comes to an end.  

The whole process of switching your business energy can be fairly time consuming. For this reason, many business owners opt for the service of an energy broker, such as Make It Cheaper, who can obtain the quotes on your behalf, and even advise on which deal will best suit your needs.

For more information on switching your business energy, click here

Energy efficient companies and services

If you’re thinking about going green in your business, but you’re not sure where to start, Make It Cheaper’s partner Eco-Nomics may be able to help. By carrying out a detailed holistic survey of your business, Eco-Nomics can help you reduce your businesses energy consumption by up to 50%.

There are many benefits to using an energy efficiency service. For example, not only will they help you identify methods to help you reduce your business’s energy consumption, but they can assist in helping you introduce and manage the scheme in your business. 

For more information on Eco-Nomics, click here.

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