Businesses are spending up to £1 in every £2 of their electricity bills on powering their business when staff have left for the day, according to the latest figures from British Gas.
Data from over 6,000 smart meter readings show that 46% of business electricity use happens outside of the traditional business hours of 8am-6pm.
Common examples of unnecessary electricity that businesses aren't aware they even use include; lighting car parks at the weekend when no one is at work; pubs keeping fruit machines switched on 24 hours a day every day of the year; retail units in shopping centres keeping display lights on when the centre is closed; and vending machines left switched on in offices overnight and at weekends.
The first step for businesses to cut their energy use is to understand when and why they use electricity. Simply switching off car parking lights at the weekend when they aren't needed could save a British Gas customer £1,200 on their annual electricity bill.
To help put businesses in control of their energy use and therefore costs, British Gas is today launching an industry first service – Business Energy Insight to show businesses how, when and where they are using electricity and proactively help them to save money through energy efficiency measures.
Dawn Ryan, from The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), was one of 100 customers who trialled the service to help British Gas make sure it worked best for businesses. ALCS began using Business Energy Insight in 2011, and with the support of its account manager's energy efficiency expertise, has nearly halved its electricity bill.
Ms Ryan said: “Managing our costs has been our number one priority since the economic downturn. But before signing up to the trial, I had no idea of the amount of money I was wasting by not paying closer attention to my electricity bills. Business Energy Insight has opened my eyes to this.
"Now I'm working with my account manager Dom Stanford to take steps to reduce the amount of money I use on things like heating and other electrical appliances when they're not being used. For example, we identified a particularly energy intensive piece of equipment that was needlessly using a lot of power. By addressing this, we saved a £9,000 over the course of the year. It's making a real difference to the business as we can invest these savings elsewhere.”
The Business Energy Insight service has been created in response to findings from customer feedback, including from the British Gas 1,000 strong business customer panel. The panel has called on the company to provide accurate bills and help businesses bring down their energy costs.
By signing up to Business Energy Insight, businesses will have:
- A smart meter installed on their premises that will put an end to the hassle of estimated bills.
- 24 hour access to an online dashboard showing hourly, daily, weekly and monthly electricity usage that can be used to identify up to 10% savings through behavioural changes. With simple efficiency measures – such as investing in timers - the savings will be even more.
- Support from over 100 account executives specifically trained to help customers implement energy saving measures.
James Caan, entrepreneur, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Private Equity and spokesperson for small and medium enterprise businesses said: “In this testing climate, our economic growth is dependent on businesses finding the money and time to invest in new growth opportunities. But the rising operational costs of running a business are acting as a major barrier to this. By using a service like Business Energy Insight to understand energy usage and take steps to reduce it, businesses can free up vital capital to invest in new ventures that can contribute to their future success.”
Marc England, Managing Director of SME Energy, British Gas Business, said:“Small and Medium sized businesses are the backbone of the UK. They tell us that reducing their costs is essential to competing in a challenging economy. However, many don't understand their electricity costs, and how they could reduce them. Business Energy Insight has been designed by businesses for businesses to provide our customers more accurate bills and the insight to reduce their costs and improve their competitiveness.”
For more information on Business Energy Insight, visit www.britishgas.co.uk/businesslive.
As part of the launch, British Gas has today launched a campaign which will follow five businesses on their energy saving journey, using Business Energy Insight. These businesses include a pub, high street bakers, chocolate factory, local convenience store and manufacturing business. To follow their progress, visit www.britishgas.co.uk/businesslive.
The Sydney Arms - Dorchester
Rick Green, owner of the Sydney Arms in Dorchester, a pub and B&B, has just started using Business Energy Insight.
Rick said: “Like most businesses, big investments on energy efficiency measures are not currently priorities for us. We have a number of fridges behind the bar as well as a large cellar which needs constant chilling. Business Energy Insight will start to open our eyes to how we currently use energy and will make us think about how we can manage our usage better to reduce our bills as a result. In addition, the initial energy-saving suggestions from the BEI team have been really valuable - they could definitely make a difference in the long term.”
Barnstaple Bakery - Barnstaple
Robert Purcell from Barnstaple Bakery in Devon, has just started using Business Energy Insight.
Robert said: "For a while now I've been concerned about how much energy we use but wasn't aware of how to bring our costs down by making small changes. Our ovens, chillers and walk-in freezer have to be on all day and are very expensive to run. Using this Business Energy Insight tool will help us understand how energy is being used and will allow me to educate the staff about how small actions can save energy and reduce bills."
JEB Precision - Northwich - Cheshire
Mike Bebbington from JEB Precision Ltd, a manufacturing business from Northwich, Cheshire, has just started using Business Energy Insight.
Mike said: “Reducing our overheads is always a priority for us, but especially in the current economic climate. As a manufacturer, our electrical motors and electro-discharge machining processes use up a lot of electricity so any insight into how we can become more efficient is welcome. British Gas Business Energy Insight is the start of identifying the options available to us.”
Michton Chocolate Factory - Swansea
Tony Wadley from Michton Chocolate Factory in Swansea, has just started using Business Energy Insight.
Tony said: “Being a chocolate factory, we have large pieces of energy intensive machinery, such as chocolate moulding machines and production lines. In addition, we have large areas of lighting which need a lot of power. Being able to understand how all of these contribute to our energy spend is going to be really helpful. Hopefully Business Energy Insight will show us where we are wasting energy and how we can become more efficient.”
Costcutter retailer - Southport
Douglas Fawcett-Brown, Costcutter retailer in Southport, has just started using Business Energy Insight.
Douglas said: “The store is open from early in the morning to late at night, seven days a week. We are constantly using energy - our chillers have to be on 24/7, whilst we also spend a considerable amount on running our lighting and computer equipment. There are definitely savings to be made, we just need help to identify where we can become more energy efficient."