According to figures from the FSB, almost 60% of small businesses see energy as a significant cost to their business.
That’s a substantial number of businesses, but fortunately we’ve got some great advice on how to save energy and money through a few, easy steps.
Make sure you’re in a contract
Business energy can be a bit of a minefield. A sure-fire way to keep your energy costs down is to double-check that you’re not paying over the odds.
There are various energy tariffs, such as variable, out of contract or deemed rates. It’s best to be on a fixed-term tariff, if possible. Business energy costs, as is the case with domestic rates, are often cheaper when you’re on a fixed-term contract. This is because the cost of energy can be agreed and locked in for the length of the contract.
Make sure you shop around to try and get the best tariff possible, and make sure to find out how third-party costs are accounted for in your contract. This means that when you’re in a contract – which can be fixed from anything from one to five years, depending on your supplier – you’ll benefit from cost-certainty.
It’s also important to make sure you’re providing frequent meter reads to your supplier. It’s best to provide a meter read to your supplier on a monthly basis, and within your billing cycle, or get a smart meter (more on these later). Your energy supplier can tell you more about your billing cycle, which is the best time for you to submit your meter readings.
Monitor your consumption
You can see your monthly consumption on your energy bills. Knowing how much you use can help you to find the best deal available to you when shopping around, but it can also help you to benchmark your average consumption.
When you have a benchmark to measure against, you’ll more easily notice sudden spikes in your usage and costs. You may even be able to link them directly to something that has changed in your business – new, energy-intense equipment that’s been installed, for example.
Keeping an eye on your bills and frequently submitting meter readings will give you a finger-on-the-pulse idea of your energy use. Fortunately, keeping on top of your energy is going to get even easier.
Smart meters are changing the way customers understand energy, making it easier than ever before to see how much you’re using and how much it costs. All energy suppliers are under obligation to offer smart meters to their customers.
As well as helping to make it easier for customers to monitor their energy use, smart meters will help to create an energy network that’s fit for the future – you can read more about the ‘smart grid’ here.
Make efficiency savings
According to the Carbon Trust, those businesses who choose to invest in energy efficiency measures can see a solid return in investment. According to the body, investing “between 1-2% of an organisation’s total annual utility bill… could lead to savings of up to 10% in energy costs”.
As such, there’s a clear incentive for businesses to dedicate some time and money to energy efficiency measures.
For those businesses who own their premises, it may be worthwhile to spend some time investigating what changes can be made to help improve the energy efficiency of your building.
These don’t necessarily need to be structural changes. Swapping out lightbulbs for more efficient LED bulbs can make a difference, while fitting draught excluders can help to reduce your heating bill.
If you rent your business premises, your options may be more limited, but you can ask your landlord about their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs demonstrate the energy efficiency of a property or premises.
You may also want to speak to your landlord to understand which measures are in place to improve energy efficiency, or if there’s anything further that you can do to reduce your energy use.
In either case, behavioural changes can also help to reduce your energy use. Turning off lights and equipment when not in use, opening windows instead of using air conditioning, and educating staff about the importance of energy efficiency can all help, too.
For information specific to your industry – from retail to manufacturing to healthcare – check out these energy efficiency guides.