Everyone is faced with the rising cost of living at the moment. And business energy remains near the top of the list of concerns for small businesses, especially with the reduced support of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme replacing the more generous Energy Bill Relief Scheme in April 2023.
It’s such a worry that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reported in March 2023 that almost a third (28%) of small businesses that signed up to fixed energy contracts in 2022 may have to “downsize, rethink their businesses model, or even close” in the facing of rising energy bills.
You may be thinking about decreasing your energy consumption to combat this rise and keep more money in your business.
Below, we give you some tips on how you could make a saving on your business energy bill.
Short-term changes to save on your business energy
There are some things you can do almost instantly that could help you save when it comes to your business energy bill. Simple changes can make a difference.
1. Carry out an energy audit
To find out where you can make savings, it’s worth first carrying out an energy audit to find out where you use the most energy in your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot areas where you’re potentially wasting energy – and money – and you can make changes.
You should assess your workplace at different times throughout the day to get an idea of when and where your business uses the most energy. Can you spot any trends or spikes in energy usage?
For example, if you noticed that your energy bill was still high overnight despite no one being in the office at that time, you could be wasting energy on computers on standby or heating an empty office unnecessarily. By assessing how much energy is used, when it’s being used and why, you can make a plan for change.
Organisations such as the Carbon Trust and the Energy Savings Trust also offer advice on how your business can use energy more efficiently.
2. Turn appliances off when they’re not in use
Appliances such as computers can use energy even when they’re on standby. If you leave your laptop or desktop computer on overnight while you’re not using it, you’re wasting electricity. The Carbon Trust estimates that by turning computers off at night and at weekends, you could cut the amount of energy these devices use by 75% per year, which could have a positive impact on your business energy bill.
Printers, TV monitors and even appliances such as microwaves in your work kitchen can also use energy in the background when they’re switched on but not in use. You could save money by turning these off at the electric socket when you’ve finished using them or overnight.
If you operate from a warehouse rather than an office, the same principle applies. You should turn off tools and equipment when they’re not in use.
3. Get your employees on board
Saving energy in the workplace is a team effort. If you have employees, get them involved in the little nudges that can save your business money.
You may want to send weekly emails to staff about what they can do to help, or ask for their suggestions on how to improve energy efficiency in the workplace.
4. Control the heating
Another way to reduce your business’s energy consumption is to get a handle on your heating. According to the Carbon Trust, heating can make up to 40% of your energy usage – and every 1°C of overheating can increase your heating costs by 8%.
You should make sure you’re only switching on the heating when it’s necessary. There is little point heating an office on a warm, sunny day, for example. You can buy controls that automatically adjust your heating settings to match the weather, or you may want to put someone in charge of setting the heating correctly each day. Planning in advance can stop you wasting energy – and money.
If you have a heating system and air conditioning in your workplace, you will want to ensure that they are not competing against each other. If you’re constantly heating your workplace and then having to put the air conditioning on full blast to maintain a comfortable temperature, you’re likely to be wasting a lot of energy and money.
5. Insulate your workplace
If your workplace isn’t insulated well, you could be throwing money out of the window. Not literally, perhaps, but if heat is escaping from around windows or doors, your heating system has to work harder to keep your workplace at the right temperature. That means using more energy and spending more money.
Insulating your workplace can help you reduce your energy bill. Even simple fixes, such as making sure that windows and doors are closed when the heating is on or sealing windows that are no longer in use, can make a difference. If there are few places for heat to escape, your business premises will be cheaper to run.
6. Check your lighting
According to EDF Energy, lighting a workspace can account for up to 40% of your business energy bill, so it’s important to ensure that your lighting set-up is energy-efficient.
Make sure you turn off lights when you’re not using a room, and especially when leaving your workplace for an extended period of time (such as overnight or during a holiday period).
When it comes to replacing light bulbs, it’s worth making sure that you buy energy-efficient options such as LEDs. These last longer and cost less to maintain than traditional bulbs. You may also be able to use lower-wattage bulbs or fit more energy-efficient light fixtures to further reduce the electricity needed to light your workspace.
Installing motion sensors – so that lights only turn on when someone is in the room – is another way you could save on your energy usage. If that isn’t an option for your business right now, try to make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room. You may find that sticking a note by the light switch may help everyone remember to do this.
7. Get a smart meter
Smart meters aren’t just for domestic energy customers. Small businesses can also use a smart meter to track their energy usage and send readings to their supplier. This helps to ensure that you’re accurately charged for just the energy you use.
What’s more, your smart meter has a display that can show you how much energy you’ve used over a certain period, acting as a visual reminder to keep on top of your energy usage.
You can check whether you’re eligible for a smart meter for business by contacting your energy provider, or by asking your landlord if you rent your business premises. Many small businesses, if eligible for a smart meter, can get one for free, though other charges could be applied by your energy provider.
Long-term strategies to save on your business energy
If you’ve already made some short-term switches, you may be looking for longer-term fixes to decrease your energy usage and reduce your business energy bill. These may require larger-scale changes, but they could be worth the pay-off for a smaller energy bill and to support the environment.
8. Replace or repair inefficient appliances
How energy-efficient your appliances are has an impact on how much energy they use and, as a result, how much energy your business has to pay for.
Although it may not always be possible when budgets are tight, replacing older, less efficient appliances with more modern, energy-efficient ones can help you save some money on your energy bill.
If you can’t afford to replace your appliances at the moment, it’s still important to have them regularly cleaned, checked and maintained. For example, if you work from a warehouse that manages chilled goods, you could ensure that your refrigerators are not overstocked, which can block air vents and affect energy efficiency. Also make sure they are serviced from time to time. Regular maintenance can help ensure that your devices work correctly and are as efficient as possible, keeping your costs down.
9. Go digital
You may not be able to digitise your entire business with a click of your mouse, but making a move toward paperless working could help minimise the amount of energy your business uses.
Think about what you’re printing. Do you really need a hard copy of that email? Major email providers store your emails in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection.
Reducing how much your business prints could save you money on energy as well as on paper and ink. Using online collaboration tools to share work with your team instead of printing out documents can also help.
10. Invest in greener energy
Ofgem has a list of schemes and grants, which can help your business become more energy-efficient without breaking the bank. For example, you may be able to get help from the government to pay for new energy-efficient equipment. Your energy supplier may also offer grants for small businesses to help with similar costs.
It’s worth checking what funding is available from a range of sources, as you might find that going green is easier or cheaper than you think.
11. Switch energy supplier
The ongoing energy crisis is likely to affect your business energy bills. Prices are being pushed up across the board, so switching your energy supplier may not have a huge effect on the price of your energy at the moment.
However, it can be possible to save money by switching your business energy supplier.
If you’re in the middle of a business energy contract, you’ll usually have to wait until the end of your current contract to switch, and you may need to give notice too. If you’re not tied into a contract – if you’re on a deemed or default tariff, for example – you should be able to switch whenever you choose.
When you’re not fixed into a contract, it can be worth comparing different suppliers to see if they offer deals that suit your needs.
Alternatively, if you are still in contract and can’t switch suppliers but want to save money on your business energy bill, your current supplier may let you switch to a cheaper tariff. You’ll need to contact your energy provider to see if this is an option for your business.
Image source: Getty Images
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