Small Business Saturday Blog

How to: keep tabs on your energy bills

Wednesday, July 15 at 10:44Energy Savings

It’s time to rejoice, summer is finally here! As a nation of weekend sun worshippers, we couldn’t be happier to see the rays shining through our windows and warming up our homes.Small business owners may think that the summer months is a chance to reduce energy costs, but the warmer months may actually increase the bills for some companies.While it certainly does cost to have the heating running during the winter months, the addition of air conditioning can increase a building’s overall energy consumption by 100%, according to the Carbon Trust. It takes up to ten units of electricity to produce just one unit of compressed air!Whatever time of the year it may be, there will always be some people within a business who want the heating on and others who wish to open the windows. This constant cooling and warming to meet employee demand can also impact your energy bills through energy inefficiencies.In addition, brightly shining sun beaming into the office may seem pleasant at first but after spending an hour squinting at your computer screen it will be time to pull down the blinds and turn the lights on. Research by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) revealed that lighting can create up to 40% of a business’ energy consumption, so it is crucial to keep these costs to a minimum when possible.The DECC has estimated that electricity prices will rise by almost 30% for SMEs over the next five years, so now is the time to brush up on good energy habits. Don’t take a holiday from being energy efficient Small business energy bills could be reduced by 18-25% by installing energy efficient measures, according to estimates from the DECC.Staff annual leave during the summer months means that everyone in the business should be even more vigilant- while there may be less people in the office, it only takes a few pieces of equipment to be left on for a couple of weeks while people are away to significantly affect the cost of your energy bills. Simple steps to saving money There are plenty of simple and cost effective strategies that can reduce your energy consumption by becoming more energy efficient:1) Reduce the cost of your air conditioning by ensuring it is switched off in rooms that aren’t in use. Many systems operate with a controlled timer, so be sure to program the timer so that it doesn’t operate during empty office hours.2) Utilise natural light by rearranging your office so that it doesn’t interfere with computer screens or people’s eye-line. If this is unavoidable, install sensor lights that are triggered by movement so that the lights will only switch on when people are working in the space.3) Many small businesses may find themselves paying overly expensive energy tariffs. New regulations mean that it now only takes six weeks to switch suppliers and energy price comparison sites, such as Love Energy Savings, can make the switching process even simpler. A small business can enter their postcode and estimated energy consumption before being presented with a extensive range of energy tariffs and providers, the best deal being highlighted for their business.By implementing these actions as soon as possible, small businesses could start saving significant money today. For more information, see The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s guide to energy efficiency. Phil Foster is the CEO of Love Energy Savings, helping small businesses to make much needed savings on their energy bills, helping business owners not only improve their profits, but also save valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers.

Small Food Businesses Save Money Via Energy Efficiency in 2015

Tuesday, March 03 at 09:24Energy Savings

Per square foot, restaurants consume nearly three times the energy of the average commercial building. Largely due to the long hours of operation and use of highly specialised equipment, oftentimes food service buildings are excessive and wasteful in their energy consumption.As a result, food businesses across the UK will be looking to save money on operations in 2015. One easy way to do this is to make kitchens more energy efficient.
Invest in Energy Efficient EquipmentAs most small food business entrepreneurs know, one powerful way to save money is by investing in energy-efficient appliances and equipment. While initial purchase costs may be higher, these energy-efficient appliances can help you achieve your sustainability goals and save your food business money in the long run.Around 50% of energy use in restaurants and other food businesses goes to refrigeration alone. Appliances like refrigerators have tangible money saving benefits on the cost of energy month to month. Other appliances, such as fryers, can also make a big impact on energy cost savings. The more expensive (and more energy efficient) fryers operate better, which extends the life of the oil and provides additional savings. Also consider investing in demand control ventilation systems. Unlike typical hoods, which generally account for about 20% of all energy use in a kitchen because they turn on at full power whenever any equipment is turned on, these demand control systems have sensors that monitor equipment use and ramp up or slow down exhaust as needed, resulting in less energy use.Embrace New TechnologyIn 2015, we’re seeing a number of new smartphone apps as well as commercial kitchen and food service product introductions that feature smartphone and iPad app remote control capability.Restaurant and food business owners can monitor energy use with the UK-developed app Meter Readings. By tracking data like energy usage and costs over different periods, the app actually begins to understand and control energy usage.Manufacturers have also risen to the challenge of making commercial kitchens more energy-efficient. One example is the development of heat recovery systems for dishwashers and refrigeration units. In these systems, the heat given off by the dishwasher’s waste water or the refrigerator’s condensing unit is recaptured and recycled to preheat the incoming water or air.Follow Local Environmental Regulations Venting and vent hoods are the most highly regulated elements in commercial kitchens. Vents and vent hoods are highly regulated because emissions from the venting of fume hoods are likely to involve small quantities of gases, fumes or dust.It is important to prevent emissions of noxious or offensive substances into the air, which is why this year we are currently seeing more and more equipment going ventless to comply with increasing local regulations on vent hoods. Regulations across the UK state that these substances must be rendered harmless or inoffensive before emission. Equipment must be examined at least every 14 months and you must keep records for five years.Businesses who repeatedly ignore the law will face fines. Be sure to save money by complying with new environmental regulations in 2015.Ross McAllister is the Director of the catering and food technology sales company Fridgeland, which has 18 years of experience in providing catering supplies to the UK and Ireland.

Highlighting Energy Saving Potential for Small Business

Thursday, February 19 at 15:42Energy Savings

Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that they would be conducting a thorough investigation into the domestic energy market. This week, they published their first set of results, and the report’s findings has prompted the Government to create the ‘Power to Switch’ campaign, which urges homeowners to proactively switch their energy and save money.However, the big question here is: ‘how can this apply to small businesses?’ It is important to make sure that businesses are aware that they too can save when it comes to switching energy.The main issue surrounding switching is that people often hear the word, and associate it with hassle and confusion, when it doesn’t need to be. The main benefit of switching is at the heart of every good small business: strengthening the bottom line. Energy costs make up a large percentage of a business’s outgoings, so cutting these costs could potentially save a business a significant amount of money each year.By simply switching to a contract that better suits your company’s consumption habits, you have the potential to facilitate some real business growth. There are a few ways to approach switching, so it can help to know the differences between businesses and domestic energy to make life that little bit easier before you venture into the energy switching world.Differences between domestic and commercial energy switchingThe most distinguishable difference between domestic and commercial switching is that duel fuel is not an option for business customers, so gas and electricity will have to be secured with separate contracts – even if they are provided by the same supplier.Suppliers also act differently when purchasing energy for domestic and business customers. Energy for the domestic market is typically bought just a few months in advance, whereas energy for businesses is bought much further in advance than that. This can be up to 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on the length of the contract between supplier and consumer.The contract that a business customer takes out is personalised to cater to the needs of that business in particular. Because of this, the tariff renewal options are different: unlike a domestic tariff where the consumer can choose to leave early, sometimes at the cost of an exit fee, a business energy customer must wait until their ‘renewal window’ opens before they switch – this is typically 90-60 days before your contract is due to end.What if your renewal window is not open?What happens if you’ve missed your renewal window and have been rolled onto a your supplier’s standard or variable rates? You can still switch after your renewal window has expired, however you will need to give your energy supplier 30 days’ notice before switching your contract.How do I get a quote?There are a number of steps to follow when looking for a quote on your business energy;Step 1: Contact energy suppliers to obtain quotes.Step 2: Once you have enough quotes, decide which best suits your consumption habits.Step 3: Contact the new supplier to begin the application process.Step 4: Contact your old supplier to inform them of the switch.Step 5: Wait for the switch to take effect.Alternatively, you could use a commercial energy broker such as Make It Cheaper, to obtain quotes for you and handle the switching process. A commercial energy broker will keep you updated on the progress of the switch, so all you need to do is apply or phone in, sit back, and relax.This article was written by Emily Farnan, a writer specialising in business energy for Make It Cheaper. For more useful tips for small business owners, make sure you follow her on Twitter.


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