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Do businesses need to be more aware of their energy spending?

Do businesses need to be more aware of their energy spending?

Do businesses need to be more aware of their energy spending?

Every well-run business will keep a keen eye on its costs. Few can afford to spend frivolously, whether the costs involve the wage bill, the decor of an office, rents or the price of equipment.

Of course, a firm that has a good grip on such matters will spend plenty of time and effort checking just what they are spending and make regular changes if necessary. But some may easily overlook the issue of energy efficiency.

Should firms be more aware if this? The answer is emphatically yes.

Not every office, whether hired or owned, will be built to the highest standards of energy efficiency. It may be poorly insulated, lack double glazing, have an inefficient boiler or have draughts, all of which might make heating more expensive.

Householders have increasingly been tackling these issues in the home; a boiler scrappage scheme was introduced by the government nearly a decade ago, while ever more homes are being insulated. All that can save bills, so why neglect to do so when the same issues can impact a company's energy costs?

Indeed, greater efficiency can cut up to 20 per cent of a company's energy costs. But to know how to do this means first to establish how much is being spent, where and why. Unlike some other areas of expenditure, it seems many firms have no idea just what this amounts to; a survey by the Daily Telegraph and YouGov found nearly half of senior managers do not know what their firms spend on energy.

Clearly, therefore, this is the first task, as it enables firms to come up with actual figures and measures of progress. It also enables managers to justify investments in efficiency to those at the top of the company.

Speaking to the Telegraph, E.ON’s senior strategic account manager John Walsh outlined a common error.

He said: "It's a common mistake for customers to see energy as a fixed cost.  I spend a large chunk of my working week helping to educate our customers about the significant impact they can make in this area.

"Along with controlling how much energy they use, we help our customers control when they use their energy and even help them to generate and consume their own energy on site."

The Energy Saving Trust has noted many of the ways in which energy use can be slashed. Some of them are simple and obvious one-off investments, such as installing LED lighting. The motor speeds of equipment also make a difference, so it is worth looking at the comparative energy usage of computers and photocopiers when buying such equipment.

For really co-ordinated action there are further steps a firm can take. One is to appoint a green champion to co-ordinate everything from installing more efficient equipment to taking charge of other green matters like recycling, installing a green roof and forging business partnerships with environmentally-friendly companies.

Indeed, this approach may see a company take the ultimate step and use more renewable energy. Provided a firm owns its own premises, installing photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to generate electricity, or using ground source heat pumps can allow it to make huge savings as well as becoming carbon-neutral.

Quite simply, if firms set out with a clear aim to pay more attention to what their energy costs are and how they can reduce them, there will be a huge opportunity to make a positive impact on both the environment and the bottom line.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of iStock/tommaso79