For business owners, managing your energy consumption is no longer just about keeping tabs on your outgoings – it’s a prerequisite for doing business. Consumer-facing companies that aren’t seen to be environmentally responsible face losing customers, while those further up the supply chain are now being asked by prospective clients to prove their green credentials.
Putting sustainability into practice should now be at the top of the agenda across every industry. Companies are becoming increasingly bold in how they communicate this to customers and stakeholders; at the end of January, The Guardian reinforced its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by announcing a ban on advertising from fossil fuel firms.
For most business owners, however, it needn’t be that complicated. One of the simplest ways to reduce your impact on the planet and improve your bottom line is by switching to renewable energy and being smart with the energy you use. But how do we navigate the sea of information out there and find a solution that truly works for you and your company?
In this article, the experts at Opus Energy, one of the leading providers of renewable energy to businesses, gives 5 top tips on how to become more sustainable and save some money in the process. All of these can be scaled in a way that works for you – no matter what size your business is.
Implementing more sustainable practices into your business needn’t break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of small steps you can take that, when measured over time, end up going a long way. For example, did you know that turning the office heating down by 1°C you can reduce your annual heating bill by up to 8%? So, if your business spends £500 a month on energy, that small turn of the dial would save you £480 each year – the equivalent of one month’s energy.
Similar savings can be made across other aspects of your business. Take electricity costs for lighting as another example: leaving the lights on in the meeting room never seems like a big deal – but, by using motion sensitive lighting you could save enough energy to make up to 300 cups of tea. Likewise, using energy-efficient lighting can save businesses about £1,500 a year.
Another tip is to have a company-wide switch off policy. While it may seem trivial, leaving 50 computers on overnight for a year would create enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus – and cost your business £1.76 a day.
Company cars: Choose the right vehicle
While a lot has been said about leveraging the benefits of car-pooling and subscription-based mobility services, the use of cars for some companies is an unavoidable part of doing business. If your business offers company cars to your employees, it pays to ask yourself the right questions when deciding on what vehicles to go for. How long will your drivers be on the road for and what distances will they be covering? Will they be driving in city centres where Clean Air Zones are in place? And if they were to drive an electric vehicle (EV), would they have access to charging points along the way?
Taking all of this into consideration is key in saving money and reducing emissions, as it can make a huge difference in determining the correct type of vehicle necessary.
It’s also crucial that you look at the whole life costs when choosing a vehicle. It’s easy to focus on the headline sticker price – this is often the case when looking at EVs which in the past have carried a heftier price tag – but there are many other costs involved, from taxes and insurance to fuel and vehicle depreciation. So, when you add all of these up, you might find that switching to an EV fleet isn’t as expensive as you thought.
What’s more, EVs are becoming increasingly affordable, so there’s never been a better time to think of making the switch. They offer two solutions at once: reducing exhaust-related emissions and reducing the use of fossil-derived fuels. By switching your business-use vehicles, including fleet vehicles, to EVs, you can make a drastic cut your carbon footprint.
Use a smart meter
The UK Government estimates that installing energy efficiency measures could reduce the energy costs for SMEs by between 18% and 25%. One such example of this is the smart meter, which gives SME owners access to vast quantities of real-time data-related insights into how and where they use their energy. This transparency allows businesses to be smarter and more energy efficient, providing them with an easy way to be more sustainable.
Smart meters are also the backbone of the Smart Grid, which will play a significant role in the UK Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 by ensuring that supply and demand are always in balance. For companies looking to be proactive in their efforts to cut their carbon footprint and play their part, the smart meter is a savvy move.
Invest in renewables
If you’ve already switched your energy supply to a more environmentally friendly tariff or provider, why not look into generating your own renewable power? If you are able to, installing solar panels are a cost-effective way of ensuring the energy your office or building uses is completely renewable.
Making this switch to renewable energy can reduce not only your environmental impact but contribute towards the wider decarbonisation across the UK’s electricity network. It’s also a way for your business to diversify, by bringing in a new stream of revenue. If done right, it can be low effort, high impact and great for the environment.
Think long term
When it comes to saving money through sustainable practices, it’s crucial that we train ourselves to think long-term, rather than simply thinking about immediate gains. The change associated with moving towards sustainability can often be a deterrent for business owners, as there is a perception that these come at a large cost. But making small changes really can pay off in a big way, both for the environment and your bottom line.
Every business is different, but by taking inspiration from the tips above and combining this with your own research, you should be able to find ways that work for you and your budget.