This is simply because in a time-pressured environment, finding the time to pull members of staff up on their energy consciousness or pour over confusing quotes and bills to find the best deal just isn’t that easy. That said, around a quarter of UK small and medium sized businesses put sustainable practices like energy saving management as a top priority for 2014 and research indicates that on average, a business wastes about 20% of the energy it uses. So how can small businesses get a grip on their energy efficiency and make valuable savings?
If you’re serious about energy saving management for your small business, then you’ll need to start with a policy and strategy. An energy policy is a written statement that details exactly how resources should be used within the business, and the strategy document will outline how energy usage will be managed based on that.In order to engage all the required personnel, from senior management to the office cleaner, it’s advisable to take a top-down approach to energy management; the strategy should ideally filter down from the company director to demonstrate to everyone how important it is.But where to begin? There are four main facets that an energy saving strategy might address, including: • Engaging staff• Smart investments • Government initiatives • Better buying So let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Getting your staff to understand why it’s so important to turn off equipment at the end of the day and incentivising them to do so is one of the main challenges facing business owners. The problem arises with getting them to actually think about how their actions might impact the energy bill, simply because it’s not theirs to pay. A ‘small steps’ initiative is endorsed by the British Chambers of Commerce, and recommends that SMEs implement small, simple practices to bring down their energy bills. Drilling the importance of things like turning lights off, switching off PCs and monitors rather than leaving them on standby, and being conservative with the heating (within reason) into employees can make all the difference. One thing that some small businesses are implementing to actively involve their staff in energy-saving initiatives is going so far as to appoint an energy manager – or ‘champion’ – who takes responsibility for regularly engaging the rest of the team in how energy-saving measures are performing and how they could be better.
The Carbon Trust recommends that business owners undertake measures to get to grips with their business energy use and identify the areas of wastage in order to implement the most effective measures. Once this is understood, then it should be relatively easy to invest in areas that are going to have maximum impact on the bills. One way to do this is through smart thermostats like ‘Nest’. These gadgets have the ability to monitor and reduce energy usage through temperature, humidity, activity and light sensors. Though it’s still early days (Nest Labs have only just released this product in the UK), the innovate company claims that these devices can save up to 20% on energy bills just by managing heating more efficiently.And if you’re not yet ready to put your trust in this new smart technology, knowing where your business is expending energy can help you to make smart investments in other ways too. According to the Carbon Trust, for example, it’s possible to cut lighting costs by 30 per cent simply by replacing your bulbs and fittings with energy-efficient equivalents. Likewise, replacing outdated office equipment with new technology that has earned the government Energy Star seal of approval can make all the difference to your bills. According to the Carbon Trust, around ten per cent of the total energy bill for commercial offices is down to PCs and monitors.
Like the Energy Star Rating, there are a number of government initiatives to help small business owners to be more energy efficient. One such scheme is the recent ‘Green Deal’, which aims to help small UK businesses to fund efficiency measures such as insulation, double glazing, improved lighting fittings and micro-generation, amongst a number of other things. The idea is that this works through the following four steps:i. Assessment: first, you will need to get a Green Deal assessor or advisor to draw up an advice report for your propertyii. The plan: next, a specialist provider will look at the assessment and work out a tailored plan and quote especially for your business iii. Installation: once you’ve agreed on a plan, your provider will arrange for an installer to come and make the changes in your building iv. Repayment: you will make repayments for the work carried out through your energy bill. The Green Deal’s ‘Golden Rule’ is that your bill shouldn’t be more than it was before because of the energy saving measures that have been put in place, and after you’ve paid off the work the bills should be much lower.
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Unfortunately at the moment, there’s no guarantee that the suggested improvements will work to the desired effect, which is where the Green Deal seems to be falling down at the moment. It’s understandable that businesses don’t want to take on more debt if they don’t have to, especially if there’s no guarantee that they’ll save money through their investment. Larger enterprises may also be subject to the Carbon Reduction Committee (CRC) scheme. This is a UK initiative that makes it mandatory for big businesses (contributing to 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions) to develop energy management strategies culminating in an annual report, that helps promote a better understanding of energy usage.
Many business owners find themselves on a rolling business energy contract that automatically defers to a higher price tariff when it expires. It’s easy to let this happen, but getting a grip on when your contract is due to end and fully understanding your bill are both key to ensuring that you’re not paying over the odds.
Likewise, getting clarity on the rates you’re being charged and exactly what is and isn’t included in your tariff is of just as high importance. Without understanding exactly what you’re being billed for, it’s not only difficult to implement energy saving initiatives like ‘small steps’ mentioned above, but it’s also almost impossible to know whether you would be better off with a different supplier.
If your business energy contract is coming up for renewal, why not make the switch to Gazprom Energy? With our simple 5 step switching process, you could be just a few clicks away from your next energy deal. To find out more, give the Gazprom Energy team a call today on 0161 837 3395 or visit our contact us page.
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