Limiting energy consumption for a small business

SmallBusiness.co.uk looks at the ways a small company can save energy.


SmallBusiness.co.uk looks at the ways a small company can save energy.

This year’s Energy Bill from the government served to lay out a suite of new measures designed to facilitate the introduction of low-carbon and renewable sources of energy generation. 

This will result in an increase in the third-party charges which are built into all energy bills. This is because in order to pay for the transition towards renewable energy sources, the government must make a significant investment itself, so needs to pass on some of the costs to end users.

It is essential to make sure you choose the right contract as a business. There are a wide range of packages available to suit the needs of different companies. Be sure that your tariff is tailored to your actual energy consumption.

There are some instances where a more flexible contract is a better move; for example larger consumers. A flexible contract means portions of energy can be bought and sold at different stages, a process which will enable them to respond to changes in the market price of energy. For smaller operations, a fixed-price option could well be preferable as the potential savings of flexibility are smaller and a fixed cost allows budgets to be forecast with certainty.

The government’s tariffs and charges can potentially account for as much as 35 per cent of a company’s monthly electricity or gas bill. These costs are beyond the control of both the businesses themselves and also the supplier, so focusing on the area that can be controlled – consumption levels – is a must.

Identify unnecessary usage

Identify how your company can save energy by looking at how your business is made up. You may want to carry out a basic inventory of the electrical equipment you are currently using and roughly how much energy each consumes. This will allow you to identify any unnecessary usage.

Also, consider the time of day at which you consume energy. Companies that use heavy machinery for example can think about re-scheduling operations to take advantage of off-peak low rates available overnight, for example, which can ensure sizeable savings.

It may be worth it to appoint a few individuals from across your company to champion conscientious behaviour among their co-workers. A carrot and stick approach – with recognition for those who develop good habits and naming and shaming of those who don’t – can be effective, but needs to be carefully managed to avoid alienating employees.

Technology can help too, for example the likes of motion-sensing lighting and timers for other appliances which might serve to take a degree of the responsibility away from workers.

Consider smart meters

Additionally, a smart meter allows a supplier to bill customers based on actual rather than forecast energy use, and this can be a great help in incentivising reduction of consumption, as the cost savings are immediately clear.

The government has voiced its intention to have all homes and SMEs on smart meters by the end of 2019.

Find a supplier that is able to offer this service and have one installed – it will give you much greater control over your energy spend.

A further step to take for a business keen on saving energy is energy monitors – small devices which show and log your current usage, and therefore rate of expenditure, in real time. These provide a constant incentive to reduce consumption and can also help in diagnosing where savings can be made.

Businesses using energy-intensive machinery should look carefully at the age and condition of their equipment and investigate whether investment in newer or more advanced options could  deliver significantly greater efficiency. Where equipment is running all day, every day, it could be that the resulting energy savings could pay off the investment sooner than you might think.

Further reading on energy

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