Telling the truth about SME life today

27 ways to shrink your carbon footprint

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1. Cut the lights

Lighting an office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea. It’s also a waste of money.

Appoint an office monitor or ensure the last person out always switches off. Once you’ve mastered that, embrace ?greener” lighting; replacing ten standard light bulbs with low-energy bulbs will save enough carbon to fill at least 3,000 milk bottles and knock about ?65 off your annual lighting costs.

2. Drop the thermostat

We re not talking chunky sweaters and scarves. Turning down the office heating by just one degree will slash your energy output and reduce your heating bill by up to eight per cent a year. It will also save enough energy to print over 40m sheets of A4 paper, according to the Carbon Trust.

3. Air con?

Air conditioning units are energy guzzlers. A decent fan is better for the environment and cheaper, too.

If you simply can’t hack it without air con, use it wisely: ?We hope to save around eight per cent off our electricity bill just by adjusting the time settings on our air conditioner,” explains business development manager Andrew Rimmington of NXP Semiconductors.

4. Free money 

There are plenty of tax incentives for energy-saving businesses. The government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme allows UK businesses to claim 100 per cent first-year capital allowances on investments made to cut carbon output.

You could even get free cash through the Department for Business” Low Carbon Buildings Programme potentially a maximum grant of £100,000 or 40 to 50 per cent of total costs, which can be used towards energy-efficient projects, such as installing solar panels. 

Alternatively, the Carbon Trust provides interest-free loans between £5,000 and £100,000 to SMEs that invest in energy-efficient equipment.

5. Unplug it

UK businesses waste huge amounts of carbon and money by not bothering to flick the ?off switch. A computer continuously left on will cost around £25 a year ?but switching off at night and at weekends can reduce this to around ?7 a year and save an equivalent amount of energy to make over 21,000 cups of coffee.

If 20 people plug in their chargers only when actually charging their phones, it will save one tonne of carbon dioxide every year.

6. Set targets

Every business needs goals to aim for. Last year, around 400 British SMEs signed up to the £100 Days of Carbon Clean-Up” challenge. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers initiative set companies weekly targets to reduce the carbon emissions caused by their business activities.

Setting similar targets say, a ten per cent reduction in your paper, energy and water usage will focus your efforts and help staff get behind the drive. 

7. Get HR on side first 

They are best placed to spread the word within the company and explain the environmental and business benefits of energy efficiency. It makes sense for HR to own carbon emissions reductions targets,” says Frank Beechinor, chief executive of OneClickHR. They hold data on who drives to and from work, for example. And they can promote the idea internally.

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