Any small business owner knows the importance of keeping costs down, and for many energy will be a major outgoing each month. So any measures that can reduce energy consumption will save money, as well as helping to reduce your carbon footprint.
The following tips are all worth considering if you’re looking to bring your bills under control:
This is the most effective way of getting costs down. A large amount of energy in the UK is simply wasted, and businesses are often the worst offenders. Make sure staff understand the importance of taking little steps such as turning off lights when they leave a room and not over-filling kettles. It’s particularly important to ensure whoever is last out of the office turns off anything that should not be on.
Changing habits can also make a big difference. According to the Carbon Trust, turning down the thermostat by just 1 degree can reduce heating costs by around 8 per cent. Air-conditioning is another large consumer of energy, so think about whether you really need it on or whether opening a door or window would be a better option.
Smart meters now allow businesses as well as consumers to monitor what they use, so why not involve employees in this too, and challenge them to reduce consumption? You could even introduce a competitive element and reward those employees who have the biggest impact, as well as creating ‘energy champions’ within the business to help educate others.
Making sure boilers and plant machinery are serviced regularly is vital if they are to continue to work effectively. Any boiler that’s more than 10 years old is likely to be hugely inefficient, and the energy savings alone would justify the purchase of a new model. Where businesses rent rather than own premises, make sure the landlord regularly services equipment and speak to them about upgrading that old clunky boiler that refuses to die.
For large energy users, installing renewable energy sources can quickly pay for itself. Solar panels are an option for those with large roofs, while other technologies to consider are ground or air-source heat pumps, or even biomass boilers. Replacing traditional lightbulbs with LEDs can also have a big impact, particularly in environments such as warehouses or factories.
Many business owners have no idea what kind of tariff they’re on, or whether they’re tied into a contract. For those that aren’t, fixing a price for an agreed period can lead to significant savings, particularly now the price of oil has fallen. Price comparison websites aimed at businesses can give you a good idea of what you could save.
Nick Martindale is a business journalist and editor of FSB’s First Voice magazine