4 simple but effective ways to boost energy efficiency in your small business

4 simple but effective ways to boost energy efficiency in your small business

Don’t let energy costs become a drain on your business’s turnover

When you run a small business, every penny counts. Staying in a positive financial position is a daily battle that is faced by the majority of small businesses up and down the country. In fact, keeping a close eye on the day-to-day running costs like rent and utilities can be a crucial consideration when forecasting for the future.

From heating an office space to powering multiple electronic devices, it’s easy to let electricity and gas costs get out of hand, but keeping them in check is vital if you want to get the most out of your company’s efforts.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can keep a handle on business energy costs and improve efficiency in the process.

How much energy should a small business use?

Energy providers tend to calculate small business tariffs on a business-by-business basis because energy requirements can be markedly different depending on the size of an organisation, the kind of work being undertaken and the hours being worked by staff on the premises.

This can make it challenging for those running the businesses to know whether their company is energy efficient or not.

If you have been running for some time, comparing annual usage year on year is the obvious starting point. If your own usage has fluctuated significantly over time, think about what has changed to cause such patterns – longer opening hours or an increase in staff working at computers all day, for example. From here, you may be able to identify some obvious steps you can implement to lower your usage. An average estimate for small business energy usage is a maximum of 30,000 kWh for both gas and electricity. However, if your business is particularly small, this should be closer to 15,000 kWh.

You should also check your unit cost, as this will give you an idea of whether you’re being charged a lot for a typical amount of usage. Compare these unit costs to other providers to see how highly you rank.

How can you lower your energy usage?

Improving your business’s energy efficiency is the most effective way to lower your average business energy consumption. And there are several straightforward ways to make an initial saving. Here are a few:

1. Make time for energy audits

Start by making a list of all the appliances used regularly at your business, then consider if they need to be turned on for the length of time you have them currently running each day. Next, check whether the lighting at your premises uses new energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, or more traditional filament bulbs.

2. Stay on top of your heating

Heating systems and air conditioning units are among the most expensive features of an office. But by introducing timed thermostat you can program them to switch off during unnecessary periods, such as over the weekend.

3. Complete regular meter readings

Meter readings are used by all energy providers to calculate how much energy your business is using. If they don’t have accurate readings, they’ll simply estimate them, and this can lead to you paying more than you need to. Most companies allow you to enter your readings online, so be sure to check them regularly.

4. Make your staff aware

It’s impossible to master energy efficiency on a business scale when acting alone. It needs to be a team effort, which is why you should ensure that they are aware of energy costs in order to inspire them to be more responsible. Little changes like always switching off monitors and plugs, closing doors and windows and switching off lights in unused rooms can make a big difference over time.

Finding the right energy supplier is another crucial step to improving your efficiency. Taking the time to switch your energy to a more suitable deal could lead to significant savings for your business in the long run. If you’re thinking of changing your supplier, let The Energy Check help you. Click here to find out more or call us on 0191 691 18 02.

New energy reporting requirements for large businesses set to launch in April

The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting scheme will come into effect from 1st April. Here’s everything your business needs to know

The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) scheme is a government initiative set to replace the soon to be scrapped Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) for businesses on 1st April 2019.

This implementation will follow the recent news from Phillip Hammond’s Spring Statement announcing a call for evidence to potentially save SMEs up to £2.5 billion a year in energy costs.

What is SECR?

Simply put, SECR is an extension of current Mandatory Greenhouse Gas (MGHG) reporting. It is an annual reporting requirement for organisations, in which they must disclose their energy consumption and carbon emissions relating to their use of electricity, gas and transport. SECR promises to be simpler than the current CRC scheme, although much of the criteria is similar. Proposed key features of SECR include:

  • Eligible unquoted companies will be required to report their UK energy use and associated emissions, alongside an intensity metric. Energy use for unquoted companies covers electricity, gas and transport as a minimum.
  • UK quoted companies will continue to be required to disclose Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, with Scope 3 optional, as well as an intensity metric.
  • Quoted companies will also have to report on global energy use.
  • Following the first year of qualification, companies will also have to publish the previous year’s emissions and energy use alongside their latest figures.
  • A narrative commentary on action taken over the last year to improve energy efficiency will also be required. It is not necessary to disclose ESOS recommendations, and as some information can be sensitive, there is an exemption from disclosing information which would be prejudicial to the interests of the company.
  • Businesses covered in a parent company’s report will not be required to report themselves.

Who will be affected by SECR?

SECR is outlined as being a scheme that has significant impact on “large businesses”. What this means is that organisations that are a classed as a UK Quoted Company (MGHG) will need to report, as well as UK listed companies featuring at least two of the following:

  • 250 or more employees
  • A turnover of £36 million or more
  • A balance sheet total of at least £18 million

SECR also affects most companies currently covered by ESOS legislation. This means that, although most ESOS participants do not currently participate in CRC, SECR will impose annual energy and carbon reporting on a large number of businesses who until now have only been involved in the 4-yearly ESOS cycle.

As such, SECR is set to impact far more companies than previous mandatory reporting schemes. Upwards of 11,900 UK companies will need to comply, compared to just 4,000 under CRC and 1,200 under the current Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting scheme.

Timeline of events

On 31st March 2019, the current CRC scheme will end. Following this, SECR is due to commence from 1st April 2019 and will apply to all Large Undertakings.

Despite the termination of the CRC scheme, CRC reporting for the 2018/19 year will still be due by 31st July 2019. Then, on 1st April 2020, the first SECR reporting will be due. Your business’s will be required following your first full financial year under SECR, so 1st April 2020 will be the earliest date that you’ll need to submit your report.

If you want to find out more about your energy reporting requirements as a business, or you’d like to find out more about saving on your energy costs, contact The Energy Check today. Simply click here or call us on 0191 691 18 02.

New scheme could potentially offer up to £2.5 billion a year in energy savings for small businesses

New scheme could potentially offer up to £2.5 billion a year in energy savings for small businesses

The launch of the government’s new Business Energy Efficiency Scheme is good news for SMEs hoping to save on energy costs

An announcement by the government has introduced a new energy efficiency scheme which could help to unlock up to £2.5 billion a year in savings for small businesses, as well as improve environmental performance, in what has been described as a “win-win” for SMEs.

During his Spring Statement on Wednesday 13th March, chancellor Phillip Hammond called for evidence from SMEs, energy companies, network operators, financial institutions, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), Local Enterprise Partnerships and academics to inform a number of proposals for a new Business Energy Efficiency Scheme focused on SMEs. This invitation for evidence for the new scheme will be open until 8th May 2019.

The new scheme has been designed to significantly lower the energy costs faced by small and medium enterprises. This is expected to help the government take a meaningful step forward in their target to ensure that businesses hit energy efficiency targets of at least 20% by 2030.

Currently, small and medium-sized enterprises account for upwards of 99% of all businesses in the UK. However, they are reported to have, on average, a “very low awareness” of the benefits of energy efficiency both in terms of saving costs and lowering their brand’s carbon footprint. It is thought that a lack of readily available information on the subject, as well as limited access to finance is largely responsible for this lack of awareness. The upfront costs involved in installing some energy saving measures is also thought to prevent many small or new business to miss out on long term savings.

Potential strategies for the new government scheme are already being put forward. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has proposed three possible options for the Business Energy Efficiency Scheme. These consist of:

  • The implementation of energy efficiency auctions. This could see the government setting up a voluntary auction which aims to target measures for smaller companies. They would compete on the basis of price with the goal of winning funding to deliver energy savings.
  • The implementation of a Business Energy Efficiency Obligation, or a Business form of the ECO scheme. The domestic ECO scheme requires suppliers to fund the installation of energy saving measures within households. This proposal could see a business equivalent of the scheme being set up. Through this scheme, an obligated party would be required to deliver a set amount of energy savings to a small business through the introduction of measures such as insulation.
  • The expansion of SME access to finance options. This could see the government exploring the possibility of support from outside financial institutions or partner organisations, in order to provide as many options as possible for small businesses looking to improve their energy performance.

Proposals such as these could see SMEs making significant long-term savings on their energy costs. Not only that, but it could help to make the UK’s small business landscape increasingly greener in the coming years.

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy commented on the proposed scheme, saying: _ “Through the modern Industrial Strategy, we’re creating the right conditions for small businesses to thrive and exploiting the global shift to clean growth.

“These proposals could help firms from hairdressers to pubs save up to a total of £2.5 billion a year on their energy bills through energy efficiency measures while reducing emissions — a win-win for the environment and the UK’s dedicated entrepreneurs.”_

Looking to switch your business’s energy supplier and save on costs? Let The Energy Check help you make the right choice.

Think you are paying for the energy reading on your meter? Here’s why there’s a good chance your farm is paying for more electricity than is being used

Think you are paying for the energy reading on your meter? Here’s why there’s a good chance your farm is paying for more electricity than is being used

The modern farm is a place of very little waste. From feed to fertiliser to water consumption, farmers are well known for their commitment to optimising productivity, reducing overheads and running a tight ship. And why not when every per cent saved can contribute to a healthier bottom line. Yet there is one area where farms may be wasting valuable money without even realising: electricity.

But I always take steps to reduce energy consumption!

The reality is that overspending on your electricity bill may well have nothing to do with how diligently you switch off machinery when not in use or replace light bulbs with low energy LEDs. In fact, the extra cost lies with the amount of electricity being sent to your farm by your Distribution Network Operator (DNO), not by your precise consumption through the meter.

If you haven’t heard of the term Agreed Supply Capacity – or ASC for short – then you are certainly not alone. But understanding what your ASC is and reducing it where appropriate can become one of the easiest cost saving changes on a farm, without any implications for the quality or reliability of the electrical supply to your home.

In simple terms, your farm is charged for the Kilo Volt Amperes (kVA) that you are supplied with, regardless of whether that energy is used or not. While in some cases the ASC to a farm may be set at the correct level, there are also many instances where it is set significantly higher than necessary. By reviewing your kVA on a regular basis – annually, for example – it is possible to set an ASC at an appropriate level and avoid overpaying for electricity.

Even if you have taken steps to reduce your energy consumption in recent years, such as using more efficient machinery, installing solar panels or upgrading to low energy lighting, failing to set your ASC at the appropriate level may still leave you paying for more than you should. Similarly, if your farm has recently diversified into other work and your electricity requirements have changed, this could also account for a change in kVA usage

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My farm’s kVA is lower than the Agreed Supply Capacity. What should I do?

If your peak usage is lower than the ASC then it should be possible to make significant savings immediately. Simply contact us here at The Energy Check and we can help you to initiate a reduction.

What if my kVA is greater than my ASC?

In this instance it is also important to take action. By exceeding your Agreed Supply Capacity you will find substantial Excess Capacity Charges on your bill. Increasing your ASC will be more cost effective than paying these charges for overconsumption.

In more serious cases, drawing too much power in excess of your ASC can actually be a serious problem as you risk overloading the supply and having to get costly repairs that may use up time and money. In 2018 measures were brought in to help reduce instances of exceeding the ASC, in some cases costing businesses several times the usual energy rate in the form of charges.

Are you looking to reduce the energy and water overheads on your farm? Then we can help. As the energy saving experts, we understand the challenges facing modern farms. If you are diversifying into other areas such as lettings, leisure and tourism or hospitality on your farm, we can support you to optimise your energy consumption and find the very best deal with a supplier.

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