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Energy consumption: We need to act now

Energy consumption: We need to act now

Energy consumption: We need to act now

The UK desperately needs to get its energy consumption under control and try to reduce its reliance on eastern European countries for its fossil fuel needs.

That's according to new research from Anglia Ruskin University, which has highlighted the country as one of a number of regions that is facing a "critical shortage of natural resources".

However, while the development of renewable energy is seen as a priority, finding ways that the population can reduce the pressure on the system by lowering the amount of power it currently wastes is another issue that should be high on the agenda.

But what steps are being taken to move in this direction and what impact is this likely to have on your business?

A struggle for small firms

As far as small and medium-sized enterprises are concerned, the affordability of gas and electricity isn't getting any easier.

The Federation of Small Businesses recently surveyed more than 1,400 of its members on their experiences with the energy market, calling on it to be made "fairer".

While there are government schemes available to help part-fund eco-friendly improvements like wall insulation, which should enable them to be more efficient when it comes to their energy consumption, companies are also being advised to switch suppliers more regularly to take advantage of special offers that can help reduce their bills.

However, four out of five (81 per cent) said the current tariffs weren't clear enough, with nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) stating they found it "difficult" to switch providers.

What's likely to change?

Ideally, more pressure will be put on energy companies to make their tariffs easier to understand. However, this certainly won't go all the way towards improving the manner of which business owners approach their energy consumption.

In order to tackle this issue, more needs to be done to raise awareness of where their gas and electricity is being wasted - and how much it is costing them.

One scheme that's currently in its early stages in the US is the City Energy Project, which has seen ten regions sign up to have their energy usage monitored to try to establish where they're going wrong.

Once trends emerge, authorities can then act upon them - and the initiative is aiming to eventually reduce carbon emissions by between five and seven million tonnes. Financially, the difference should be around $1 billion (£600 million) to the country's taxpayers per year.

If it works, it's feasible a similar approach could be adopted in the UK. Smart meters are already being introduced into homes and businesses over here, with the government aiming for every household and office to have one by 2020.

The Economist recently reported this technology could also be used to help energy providers determine the peak times for gas and electricity consumption, so it seems likely that this approach will certainly feature in one way or another in years to come.

What's certain is that while we know we need to be doing more to control our usage, many of us aren't sure how. For this reason, raising awareness among the business community and the general public is essential.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock