10 Dec 2021
Saving on energy bills as a small business can be critical for your success. Depending on the type of business you are in, energy costs can be a significant expense, and as an overhead, energy costs can become a survive or thrive issue. Not only do you need to choose your supplier with care, but you also need to reduce your energy consumption by conducting an energy audit.
There are many energy suppliers, and they have a vast range of tariffs for you to select. Navigating through all your energy-saving options can become quite a task, so here we’re simplifying the process into a quick list of money-saving and energy-saving tips.
The world of business energy supply has moved on significantly over recent years. There is no one size fits all charge; the options can get tailored to be a precise match to your business energy use. Your first responsibility is to know your tariff and then determine if it’s right for you.
You can start by ordering a smart meter from your current supplier. In theory, the meters should give you more precise readings at any time of the day, which helps control your use and spending.
You can immediately conduct an energy audit with the smart meter and see how your energy use changes during the day and over an extended period. Then you can begin to decide if the tariff you’re on is correct.
For example, are cheaper evening and weekend tariffs available if you use more energy in the evening, early morning and weekends? The smart meter also cuts estimates; you can generate a precise bill based on your use, and you can begin to see if you can trim costs during heavy periods of use.
There are many options for you to print less and go paperless. For instance, if you’re a customer-facing retail business, you can start by asking your customers if they want and need a receipt. You could also ask if postal invoices are necessary. It might only add up to a small saving if you cut back on your printer use, but you’re also using less paper, so the environmental cutback is also quite satisfying. Imagine if you don’t have to refill your credit card terminal again, you could be saving on rolls of paper each year.
Producing independent energy helps to cut bills and will cut your business’s carbon footprint. Solar photovoltaic panels, which only require daylight and not sunlight to generate electricity, can be installed on buildings of all shapes and sizes. There may be grants available for buying and installing these panels, and the one-off cost might get recovered over the years through vastly reduced bills.
The UK government has put together some valuable resources to investigate if you can get any financial help with your energy-saving drive. Depending on the location of your business, your local council might also help.
The Carbon Trust can be a suitable place to begin your search for ideas if you’re determined to make wholesale changes to how your energy gets generated and delivered. Ofgem also has a dedicated web page where you can browse your options for energy-saving grants and schemes.
Any new appliance you buy should have an energy rating. You can access various websites to test the ratings; they should all have ratings, whether a commercial fridge or a laptop. The less energy used, the better and the most up to date equipment should be more efficient in many ways. Look for A+++ ratings; the upfront cost might be more, but the overall energy use will be far less, so savings increase over the appliance’s lifetime.
When it comes to green energy bulbs, it’s worth noting that they can use up to 80% less energy, and although they might be slightly more expensive than standard lamps, they last longer, so you should save in two ways.
You could also install motion sensors to cut the energy bill or consider dimmable controls. And why not make the most of the spring and summer days by pulling back the blinds and letting natural light flood into the office, warehouse or retail premises?
There’s the issue of hygiene and fresh air circulation to consider; fresh air and sunlight can act as nature’s disinfectant, which brings us neatly onto the subject of aircon.
There’s a balance to reach between keeping your team working in the right and legal temperatures while ensuring the air conditioning equipment at your premises does its job. Running heating and aircon together can be expensive and wasteful, so it’s up to you to reach the right balance, perhaps after consultation with your staff. A rule of thumb is that air conditioning isn’t needed until the temperature reaches 23 degrees C.
Turning down the heating in your business by just one or two degrees could have a dramatic effect on your overall energy bills. Limiting the heat’s time or adjusting it throughout the day depending on the outside weather conditions could also help cut costs. You could install automatic thermostats for central heating that can get programmed to reach specific temperatures during certain times of the day and days of the week.
The bulk of your energy use might not be at your premises. For instance, if you’re a transport firm, fuel to drive your vehicles might be your most significant energy expense. The savings you can make filling up cars or light commercial vehicles by comparing petrol stations are minimal. However, using sophisticated transport software products, you can plan your journeys far more efficiently.
If your transport fleet is old, then it may use more fuel and oil. The competition in the leasing industry is enormous; you might discover that leasing a new range of vehicles is more cost-effective than keeping an ageing fleet on the road.
You don’t have to be a transport business to think about your road fuel use, and your energy audit could extend to how your staff get to work and use company cars. Can you offer the bike to work scheme or reduce the number of vehicles you run by introducing a carpooling system, so employees only use cars when necessary?
There are many ways you can limit energy waste in your business, so let’s quickly run through a few.
If you’re a retail business, you might want to avoid putting chillers close to external doors.
Pull down the blinds, when possible, on coolers and fridges.
Keep external doors closed, when possible, particularly delivery doors.
Consider buying or renting a water cooler that delivers hot and cold; this could save a lot of kettle use.
Evaporation condensers could prove to be a worthwhile purchase.
You could consider putting up energy-saving posters throughout the business. Specific energy suppliers have a range you can select from on their website, which you can either print off or order. If you’re a retail business, good energy-saving practices could also extend to your customers.
You could also suggest to your team that they dress appropriately for the season. Should your business indirectly pay for staff to wear t-shirts in the office during the winter months? Similarly, you might consider relaxing the dress code during summer, so suits are no longer needed if wearing them entails putting the aircon on.
The office kitchen or the staff rooms can become very wasteful if you take your eye off the ball. Here are a few quick tips to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
Switch off the microwave when not in use.
Only use the dishwasher when it’s close to capacity; it saves on pods, water and electricity.
Make sure the gaskets and hinges on appliances like fridges and ovens are clean and in good order.
Boil the kettle for a round of tea or coffee, not just one cup.
Switch off the lights and appliances (from the sockets) when not in use.
So, we’ve highlighted several ways to cut your energy use and bills. There may be other micro changes you can make, and it's not a cliché to suggest they all add up.
We didn’t need the recent COP26 global meeting in Glasgow to remind us of the urgency to address the issues of fossil fuel use and climate change.
The average small business spends over £3,500 a year on energy. If you can cut that by 10%, that’s a significant saving. Perhaps that’s an excellent target to aim for, and you can potentially achieve it by starting today with minor adjustments.SEE YOUR BUSINESS ENERGY OPTIONS
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