UK small businesses are fully committed to saving energy but need more help according to research published this week.
Small businesses in the UK are enthusiastic about energy efficiency, but they want expert guidance and commercial support
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) polled members and found that there was “overwhelming support for energy efficiency”, with 90% seeking to find ways to improve their own.
What the research results emphasise is that small businesses need much more advice when it comes to cutting energy usage, both from the government and energy companies. This is exactly what SaveMoneyCutCarbon has been consistently advocating.
A national strategy that helps businesses, organisations and households to make effective, sustainable energy and water savings is desperately needed.
Two thirds of small firms say that enhanced tax relief would encourage them to become more energy efficient, but many are not aware of any support available or find it hard to navigate.
Small business would also welcome support from energy companies on how to consume less energy. Longer energy contracts in return for improved support and advice from energy suppliers were broadly supported by nine in ten (89%) of the companies questioned.
Four out of five (78%) FSB members say they are motivated by the cost savings that come with energy efficiency measures, but seven out of 10 (70%) small businesses said protecting the environment was an important factor. A quarter very rightly highlighted that improved energy efficiency would be a way to attract customers and help promote their business.
58% said that they had already taken small steps towards energy efficiency. This could be anything from installing energy efficient lighting in the form of controls and LED alternatives, to investing in equipment such as voltage optimisation. The figure is encouraging, and also shows that there is ample scope for greater adoption across the UK.
We know that there are big savings to be made by switching to energy-efficient lighting solutions, as well as water saving options such as eco showers and eco taps. While time is always precious, every business should find conduct an energy audit, which would pinpoint where less energy could be consumed and the annual savings gained.
Our Learn & Save resource is a comprehensive guide that covers everything from how to save energy and water to cutting carbon emissions and make the right purchasing decisions. For example, it details what to look for when choosing an LED panel. Our product specification and project management services can also help with this.
Barriers to taking action among small business owners exist and need to be addressed. These include the challenge of not owning the premises where businesses operate, which was cited by nearly half of those polled as an obstacle to making changes (45%).
One in five businesses also said that they had a poor understanding of the options available, and 29% advised that they lacked the capital to invest. This is where interest-free loans and clearer advice, backed by Government could make a swift and sizeable difference. Our finance options, too, can help to make initial costs easier to manage so you can start saving on energy bills quickly.
Small business also gave their backing to energy companies who could provide more support on how to consume less energy. Longer energy contracts in return for improved support and advice from energy suppliers were broadly supported by 89% of the companies questioned.
Many small businesses also require quick payback on energy saving measures. The poll showed that more than half (55%) want to see a return on investment within two years. 39% also cited needing payback inside 12 months.
The FSB believes that smart meters will be a vital tool in helping small businesses make the right energy-saving decisions. They have also called for the hardware roll out to be supported by an ongoing package of information and support from energy companies.
The national smart meter installation programme has been underway for a few years now and is set to be completed by 2020.
Energy efficiency enthusiasts
John Allan, FSB National Chairman advises: “Small businesses are really enthusiastic about energy efficiency and this desire should be capitalised on for the good of their business and the environment. However, what our research does tell us is a simple ‘one-size fits all’ approach will not work as different businesses are driven by a diverse range of factors.
“The energy market will continue to fail small firms until it can help businesses reduce their energy consumption, as well as their underlying unit costs.
“There are several initiatives in place to help businesses become energy efficient, including the Green Deal. But Government and energy companies need to do more to understand the different circumstances and motivations of small businesses to help promote further action on energy efficiency.”