This October saw the fifth annual Big Energy Saving Week, a joint partnership between Citizens Advice, the Energy Saving Trust and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The week aims to raise public awareness of ways in which consumers can improve efficiency, cut back on their energy bills and save money.
While there is no doubt about the importance and relevance of this annual event, each year it leaves us asking the same question: why aren’t we spending as much time and effort promoting energy saving to businesses as we are to consumers?
Keeping operating costs to a minimum is a constant priority for business owners, especially those running small and medium sized firms. Whether you’re looking to fuel growth and expansion, or just trying to maintain a healthy cashflow, businesses should always be exploring new ways to cut back and save money.
For many medium sized and small businesses energy bills account for a large proportion of the overall running costs, and this is an area where they have the potential to save a great deal of money fairly easily. However, this is also an area that is often overlooked or ignored when the question of operating more efficiently is raised.
Big Energy Saving Week aims to increase public awareness of two main areas, both of which can be transferred to business. First, how much consumers could save by switching energy supplier and just how easy it is to do so. Second, how improving energy efficiency can not only save money but also reduce your carbon footprint.
Switching business energy provider
Switching energy providers is one of the easiest ways a business can save money on their energy bills. However, many business owners are put off from researching their options, as they’re under the impression that switching can be a long and arduous process. This leads them to stay where they are, even if they know they could be paying considerably less elsewhere.
Just as Big Energy Saving Week aims to highlight how easy switching energy providers can be for consumers, we believe more needs to be done to educate businesses on how easy the process can be.
While switching energy suppliers can save businesses up to 30%* on their energy bills, it is important to consider more than just price. Rather than just going with the cheapest energy supplier, businesses need to take a range of factors into account, including value for money, customer service and billing clarity.
Improving energy efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is another way that businesses can keep costs to a minimum. Again, this is an area that is regularly covered in the consumer market, but much less frequently for businesses. However, with a growing importance being placed on becoming more environmentally friendly, combined with the constant need to cut costs, improving energy efficiency should be a top priority for businesses now more than ever.
While certain energy efficiency measures will involve an initial financial investment, the long-term savings outweigh this cost. For businesses who are unable to currently make an investment, there are a range of simple measures that cost very little, or nothing at all, but can have a direct impact on your energy efficiency and therefore, your bottom line. For example, turning your temperature down by just 1°C would hardly be noticeable, but can reduce your annual heating bills by up to 8%.
There’s help out there
Businesses have access to a wide variety of support when it comes to improving energy efficiency, but many are completely unaware of these. The SME Loan Scheme, for example, enables small and medium sized businesses to access fixed rate loans of up to £100,000 to reduce their carbon emissions. There are also a number of grants that businesses can apply for.
If the same amount of time and effort was given to promoting energy saving among businesses as is given to Big Energy Saving Week for consumers, businesses across the country could save millions, while also reducing our nationwide carbon footprint.
*30% saving based on average business gas usage of 65,000 kWh. Maximum saving calculated by uSwitchforBusiness. http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/uswitch-for-business/