Ways to reduce your business energy consumption

By reducing your business energy consumption, you’ll be helping the planet while saving money on your business energy bills. Here’s what you can do to cut your carbon emissions.

By reducing your business energy consumption, you’ll be helping the planet while saving money on your business energy bills. Here’s what you can do to cut your carbon emissions.

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
7
minute read
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Posted 13 APRIL 2022

Reducing business energy consumption 

The recent COP26 climate change conference has made us more aware than ever that we need to make changes to the way we live and work. The government’s net zero emissions target for 2050 means that reducing energy consumption has become a major priority for businesses of all sizes. 

Reducing the amount of energy your business uses will not only help the planet, but can also help you save money on your business energy bills. 

There are many simple ways to help reduce your business’ energy consumption. Even small changes can make a big difference, and the good news is that some won’t cost you a penny.

Why is it important to reduce business energy consumption? 

While the UK government pledges to cut its emissions to net zero by 2050, it also recognises that businesses of all sizes need to take action and do their bit.

And not only larger businesses. Research by British Business Bank reveals that smaller businesses are responsible for around 50% of UK business-driven emissions. 

Businesses of all sizes have a crucial part to play in reducing their impact on the environment – and that includes SMEs and microbusinesses. Climate change is impacting almost everything in our world – from food security and biodiversity, to the water we drink and the air we breathe. Problems with climate change have a knock-on effect that will inevitably increase the cost of essentials like food, fuel and energy. 

Reducing your business energy consumption brings a wealth of benefits. Not only are you helping to cut carbon emissions, but small businesses can also save money on energy bills, improve their brand reputation and even secure finance from lenders who are attracted to sustainably minded businesses.

How do I know how much energy my business is using? 

It’s not hard to track your business energy consumption. If you have a smart meter it’s even easier. You’ll be able to monitor your energy consumption on a daily basis and find out when you use energy the most. That way you can take steps to control your energy usage. With a smart meter you can also say goodbye to estimated bills, as you’ll only pay for the energy you use. 

You can also find important information about your energy consumption on your latest gas or electricity bill. You’ll be able to see how much you’re paying for gas or electricity per kWh as well as the standing charge for the supply of energy to your business premises.

How can I reduce my business energy consumption? 

Once you know how much energy your business is using, you can then take steps to reduce it. Here are just some of the things you can do to reduce energy consumption in your workplace. 

Cost-free changes 

The following changes can be implemented with very little or no cost to your overheads: 

A cycle-to-work scheme

The government-backed cycle to work scheme is a salary sacrifice benefit which enables employees to get a discounted bike and accessories in return for a small part of their salary. It’s taken from the gross salary, so it means that employees will pay less income tax and NI. And, of course, it means less pollution on the roads, as well as fitter and healthier employees.

Adjust your heating and cooling systems

You could significantly reduce your energy consumption by just turning down the heating thermostat by one degree. Likewise, you will benefit if you turn off air conditioning when you have a window or door open.

Turn off the lights

Apart from the obvious – turning off the lights in empty rooms – occupancy sensors are a low-cost way to keep lighting costs down. They ensure that lights only come on when rooms are occupied, for example, in store cupboards, toilets and corridors, and could cut your lighting energy use by 30%. Timer switches are another low-cost way to control your lighting outside office hours.

Don’t leave equipment on standby

Getting staff to turn off their computers at the end of the day instead of leaving them in standby mode could save you up to £35 a year, per computer, on your business electricity bills

Install a smart meter

Under the government’s smart meter rollout initiative, all businesses must be offered free smart meter installation by 2025. A smart meter helps you take control of your energy usage. There’s no more need for manual readings and it will put an end to estimated bills.

Energy-efficient technology 

The following may require initial upfront costs, but the investment is worth it if you can save on your energy bills in the future:

LED lights

LED lights use up to 90% less energy than standard lightbulbs. They also last up to three times longer, so they’ll also help keep maintenance costs down.

Energy-efficient office equipment

Replace desktop computers with lightweight laptops. Not only are they more flexible, but they are quieter and emit less heat. Modern flat screen monitors are kinder to the eyes and can cut running costs by around 50%. Using laptops also makes remote-working easier for your employees, which is another way to reduce your company’s emissions.

Smart working

Coronavirus has at least shown that remote working is viable. Allowing staff to work from home some days and using VoIP-based technology for video meetings instead of travelling could make a big difference to your overheads – and help the environment.

Find out more about energy-saving devices for your business.

Long-term investments 

The following are more expensive initially, but they are effective energy and cost-saving solutions for the long term:

Double glazing

Double glazing can reduce heat loss by up to 50%.

Insulation

Insulating roof spaces, loft areas and walls can not only reduce heat loss by up to 90%, but can also make your heating and air-conditioning systems work more efficiently.

Solar panels

Upfront costs of solar panels are high, but the benefits over time are worth it. Not only could you lower your business energy bills, you can also earn money by selling any unused electricity you generate back to the National Grid. Solar energy is renewable, which means less reliance on fossil fuels to power your business.

Find out how your business could benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme.

Frequently asked questions

Can a smart meter help me reduce the energy consumption of my business?

While a smart meter won’t directly reduce your energy consumption, it can help you keep a track of the energy your business uses. You can then take steps to reduce your energy consumption.

New generation SMETS2 smart meters could also make it easier to switch energy suppliers in the future. The government’s aim is to move all smart meters onto a single communications network, so all suppliers will eventually be compatible. This means no disruption to your smart services when you make the switch to another tariff. 

Smart meter business customers can also take advantage of cheaper and innovative tariffs. For example, with a time-of-use tariff, your energy will be cheaper at specific times of the day, so you could pay less when your business is at its busiest.

Could reducing my company’s carbon emissions save money?

The less energy your business uses, the lower your carbon footprint and energy bills will be. Across all industries, reducing our energy consumption means less reliance on fossil fuels and a greater adoption of cheaper renewable energy sources. If we all take steps to reduce carbon emissions, it would ultimately cut the cost of energy.

Can switching energy providers help to reduce my business energy consumption?

Switching to a cheaper tariff is one of the simplest ways to cut the cost of your business energy bills; Switching energy providers is also an ideal time to take a long hard look at your energy usage and find ways to shave even more off your bills. 

If you have a smart meter, you could save on energy by moving to a time-of-use tariff, so you pay less for your energy during the busiest times of the day. You might also want to consider switching to a renewable energy supplier. Some can offer up to 100% green energy from renewable sources.

What else can my business do to go greener?

You could join thousands of other UK SMEs and pledge to take part in the UN’s Race to Zero campaign. Spearheaded by the COP26 Climate Change Conference, the government is partnering with businesses of all sizes to offer ideas, support and incentives to cut their carbon emissions.

The SME Climate Commitment addresses key steps SMEs should take to do their bit for the planet. These include: 

  • Measuring your current greenhouse emissions.
  • Setting targets to reduce your emissions in line with the SME Climate Commitment.
  •  Developing a plan to reduce your carbon emissions.
  • Taking immediate action to achieve your targets.
  • Encouraging other SMEs to do the same. 

Tools, resources and incentives are available on the SME Climate Hub for SMEs willing to pledge their commitment. By taking part in this global collaboration, you’ll have help and support in cutting your carbon emissions. It will also boost your credibility by demonstrating that you’re a climate-responsible, sustainable business. 

Find out more about the SME Climate Commitment and the Race to Zero campaign.