How businesses can fight rising energy bills

By Helen Buchan, Head of Product, JLA

In recent months, uncertainty around energy bills has meant that monitoring efficiency and taking control of usage is a priority for every business to ease the impact of rising costs, no matter the size or sector. As energy prices continue to rise, measures were recently put in place to help businesses manage energy costs, such as the UK Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

The scheme provides a discount on wholesale gas and electric prices for all non-domestic customers, and will run until March 2023, when it will be reviewed.

Ultimately, whilst the Energy Bill Relief Scheme can help businesses keep on top of rising costs, there are still concerns that despite this discount, the energy costs businesses will face moving into the winter months will represent a monumental increase on the same time last year. Though there is support available, it is important for businesses to take a pragmatic approach and scope out how to reduce energy usage to save costs on both a short- and long-term basis.

Short term tips

No matter what industry your business operates in, paying for energy usage is a given and with energy prices continuing to rise, there are a range of short-term thing you can do to help lower overall cost. It’s all about efficiency, finding a balance between minimal energy use for maximum output of the appliances used day-to-day.

Turning down the thermostat on your heating equipment to a regulated temperature can help reduce overall costs, as well as ensuring the thermostat reading is accurate by positioning the sensor away from direct sunlight. If your business has an individual temperature control in each room, make sure the maximum temperature is limited to 23 degrees as this should be hot enough for both guests and staff without costing more.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Installing more energy efficient equipment and software can also help to make short-term cost savings. Replacing lightbulbs with LEDs can account for a large energy saving on your business as they use much less energy than traditional lighting. Additionally, fitting reflective heat film on the inside of windows where appropriate can act as insulation, helping to save on energy bills during the winter. But can also reduce pressure on air conditioning systems and cooling units during the summer months- aiding efficiency of the equipment all year round.

Not leaving electrical appliances on or on standby when not in use may only be a small change but can save on costs quickly. Almost all electrical appliances consume energy when in standby mode, so switching this equipment off is a sure way to avoid unnecessary costs.

Long-term savings

Rising operating costs are having an impact on every business, and many are having to take decisive measures in order to cope. Short-term cost-cutting measures are the natural go-to, but taking a step back to understand how the organisation can be more fiscally sustainable can be more effective in the long term for your energy bills.

Conducting an audit of your energy conservation could also prove critical to reducing consumption and costs, as you can’t effectively reduce costs if you don’t know where you are losing money. Audits can pinpoint areas that may be losing businesses money, from wall and roof insulation, heating systems, and even current appliances. Though audits only take a short amount of time, they can result in long-term savings for businesses if the correct actions are taken as a result.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are used by almost every business that have physical premises. They can take a significant portion of energy to run, and with colder weather ahead, it’s a good time to review the efficiency of such systems. Even small changes can reduce the energy cost of heating and other requirements of a HVAC system.

Regular maintenance of HVAC systems is an effective way to reduce energy usage long term. Conducting regular checks ensures the system is running optimally and can prevent possible breakdowns which may result in hefty repair costs, or even loss of business. For example, even a minor leak in pipework can result in your system having to work much harder to overcompensate, which results in a higher amount of energy used.

If your business has a gas boiler, this should be serviced annually to ensure they continue to heat the building at the most optimum level, this doesn’t have to be costly and can save you having to replace your boiler system in the near future. Similarly, reviewing what type of fuel you are using is important, as in some cases gas is slightly cheaper than electricity per unit for producing the same energy output.

Accessing government schemes and looking for quick ways to dial down on energy usage is a sure way to help with the increased cost of energy his winter. However, keeping an eye on long term measures must also be treated as a priority, and will help to ease uncertainty and be more effective in cutting costs further down the line.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024