Gab Barbaro gives his thoughts on helping small businesses to be more energy efficient, after the Federation of Small Businesses reveals new research showing that nine in 10 are seeking to become more energy efficient.

At the end of May the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) released the results of some research which revealed that an overwhelming majority of their members – 9 in 10 – wanted to become more energy efficient.

Environment and marketing are key motivators

According to the research, the reasons behind this drive weren’t just about cost saving. Seven out of 10 (70%) small businesses said protecting the environment was an important motivator, while a quarter highlighted improved energy efficiency as a way to attract customers and help promote their business.

Obstacles for small businesses

Members also called out some challenges to becoming more energy efficient, such as not owning the premises where they operate (45%), not understanding the options available (20%) and a lack of capital to invest (29%). This has led the FSB to call for energy companies like British Gas to offer more energy-saving support and investment to businesses.

These findings demonstrate how becoming more energy efficient is no longer just the concern of larger businesses or the public sector.  I fundamentally believe that all businesses can benefit from reviewing not just their energy costs, but also their energy consumption.

How to measure energy use

We’ve installed around 315,000 smart meters for our customers, and agree with the FSB that providing more help and support alongside the hardware roll-out is the right thing to do. That’s why we’ve introduced our bespoke online service for SMEs – we call it Business Energy Insight (BEI) – which helps customers to better understand what’s driving their consumption, get energy efficiency tips and receive alerts that they can set themselves.

What about the payback period?

We also believe that energy efficiency technology can play a part, but understand that the amount of time taken to recover the upfront investment, often called the ‘payback period’, must be short. From new boilers and building controls to solar panels and heat pumps, installing these technologies for customers has shown us that they can provide competitive payback periods depending on the individual business.

For example, we helped the owner of a hair salon in Lincolnshire to upgrade their old storage heating system and fans to a new outdoor air source heat pump. Not only would the owner save up to 70% off their heating bills, but the payback period was between three and five years. For a vintage fashions store in North Yorkshire, the payback on their new LED lighting which we installed will be less than 2 years and they’ll save £391 a year.

Get an efficiency survey without disrupting business

At its most basic, businesses should get an energy efficiency survey – it takes only a few hours, can be completed during opening hours and uncover savings that could make the difference between growing and keeping afloat. We offer micro-businesses free audits depending on certain criteria.

And it’s just as important to focus on the smaller aspects of energy saving. According to some recent research we completed, 68% of workers cared about being energy efficient at work. Other things you may do at home can also be used in the workplace, such as installing insulation, draught proofing and new lighting such as LEDs.

More information

We’re keen to provide more support and advice to our customers and would urge you to get in touch or visit the Energy Services section of our website to find out more.

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