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Business energy efficiency – How greener choices can bolster your bottom line

Here, we explore how to tackle business energy efficiency, and hopefully save money in the process.
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Efficiency is a buzzword for most businesses. Everyone wants to be as efficient as possible, less wasteful, leaner. Here, we explore how to tackle business energy efficiency, and hopefully save money in the process.

Being a “lean” business means constantly examining your business energy efficiency to see where you can make improvements. It’s about looking for ways to cut your carbon footprint, your waste, your energy consumption – and at the end of the day save money.

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Going lean will look different for different businesses. For example, if you make a product, you might make changes to your factory. You might consider making to order, so there is never any surplus stock that costs money in the form of wasted raw materials, production and storage.

However, if you offer some kind of professional services, for you going lean might be more about making changes to your office – perhaps you might start arranging meetings via web conferences rather than driving out to meet clients, thereby reducing your fuel costs and carbon footprint.

When it comes to efficiency with energy contracts, there are two key factors to explore.

Firstly, how much are you paying for the energy you use? Have you negotiated the right contract for you, at the right time? Everything from politics, to currency fluctuations and contract length can have an effect on your pricing efficiency, and if you’re keen to learn more we have covered the topic more extensively earlier in this series.

Secondly, are you making green choices and using the energy you’re paying for in the most efficient way possible?

Business energy efficiency: A note on choosing a supplier

When it comes to choosing a supplier that will help you get your business energy efficiency in order, there are a couple of things to consider.

Ethical energy sources are often more expensive, and if your priority is making improvements to your bottom line this might be off-putting. However, energy suppliers are required by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to publish the percentage of electricity from renewable sources (known as a “fuel mix”). You can access this information for free, and use it to make an informed choice.

If choosing a green supplier is a priority but the price is still a concern, you might find it worthwhile taking a look at five-year fixed term contracts which allow you to budget with certainty.

Business energy efficiency: Every-day choices

If you choose a fixed-rate tariff for your energy supply, it’s important to note that the fixed price is per unit of energy – not a fixed price per month. For this reason, it is worth making sensible, energy conserving choices.

Here are some things you can do to make your business more energy efficient:

• Turn it off – Make it a habit not to leave lights on when there’s nobody in the room. If you have a busy office, it may be that there are usually people coming and going. But if you have, say, a team of ten or fewer, why leave the kitchen and bathroom lights on all the time?

• Make the switch – Following in that theme, take a look at what type of lighting you’re using. LED lights don’t cost as much to run and they are a greener option

• Educate yourself – Find out where and when you use the most energy – are you using the heating while the windows are open? Is the heating or air conditioning on when it’s not needed? Consider getting a programmable thermostat so you are only using energy when you need it

• Get an audit – If you want a really thorough understanding of your energy use, you can get an external audit. This might be useful if you use energy in peaks and troughs.

One thing that’s crucial to become a leaner, greener business is educating your staff – you can’t do it without them, especially if you’re not always in the office to police it.

Try leaving notes by light switches, or leaving a suggestions box open for staff to give their own two cents – if you’re dedicated to improving business energy efficiency you have to be dedicated to constant improvements.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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