In light of the substantial hikes in electricity and gas prices, energy bills are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With higher raw material costs and increasing wage bills thrown into the mix, it’s now more important than ever to look at ways to reduce your business energy bills.
Like many small business owners, energy usage in the workplace was likely low on the priority list until now. Bills were manageable and you could reduce costs simply by switching suppliers. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
To help you make savings without sacrificing productivity and efficiency, take a look at our top 10 tips to reduce your business energy bills.
1. Conduct an energy audit
Carrying out a business energy audit is essential for understanding and managing your organisation’s energy usage.
It involves taking a close look at your consumption and conducting a systematic walk-around of the premises to see where, when, and how this energy is being used.
Every aspect of the business is assessed, including all appliances and equipment, systems and processes, and the building’s interior and exterior.
This will help you to identify immediate and long-term energy-saving opportunities, improve efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and lower your business energy bills. In most cases, it can lead to a 10-40% cost reduction.
You can conduct an energy audit yourself, or you can appoint a professional auditor to assess your business for energy-saving opportunities.
2. Install energy-efficient lighting
Around 20% of electricity generated in the UK is used for lighting. It can be one of the most energy-intensive aspects of running a business, often responsible for up to 40% of electricity usage.
However, a number of small changes could significantly reduce costs in this area.
- Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
- Ensure lights in rooms, cupboards, and hallways are switched off when not in use
- Install timer switches
- Minimise the lighting in non-working areas (e.g. corridors), whilst adhering to workplace lighting guidelines
- Maximise natural light by arranging desks close to windows and fully opening blinds during daylight hours
- Ensure windows, skylights, and light fittings are kept clean
Installing motion sensors or timed switches in areas such as corridors, stairwells, and toilets can also lead to considerable savings. This will prevent lights from being left on when not required, which could reduce your business energy consumption from lighting by 30%.
3. Control the temperature
Maintaining a comfortable temperature in the workplace is important for employee wellbeing and productivity. But the way in which we manage indoor climate is often inefficient.
Keeping air conditioning on all day in the springtime and summer can double your energy bills. Instead, consider installing ceiling fans. Even on the high setting, fans use around 99% less energy than air conditioning units.
If you do decide to use air conditioning, try to be as energy-efficient as possible by:
- Setting the thermostat at a comfortable temperature – ideally, no less than 8 degrees below the outside temperature
- Using a timer on the thermostat to set hours of operation, rather than keeping it on all-day
- Turning the AC off when rooms are unoccupied – even setting it one degree warmer can reduce costs by up to 10%
- Ensuring filters are cleaned regularly and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Keeping windows closed when the AC (or fans) are switched on
- Lowering the blinds on sun-facing windows
- Tuning off heat-emitting equipment when not in use, e.g. computers, printers, televisions, ovens
Ways to reduce heating costs
When it comes to heating the workplace during the colder months, there are many ways you can reduce your business energy bills whilst keeping employees comfortable.
According to the Carbon Trust, heating typically accounts for up to 40% of energy usage. By simply lowering the thermostat by 1°C, you can reduce your heating costs by 8%.
To make even more savings, consider the following:
- Only switch on the heating when necessary
- Set a timer on the thermostat, rather than keeping the heating on all day. Alternatively, install a smart thermostat and maintain a temperature of 19-22°C / 66-72°F
- Ensure radiators are free from obstructions – this improves flow and prevents heat from being absorbed by furniture
- Lower the thermostat on radiators in unoccupied areas and where there is a higher level of physical activity
- Clean radiator vents regularly
- Keep all windows and doors closed when the heating is on
- Ensure the boiler is serviced at least once a year
- Improve insulation in walls, and draught-proof windows and doors
- Install window blinds to improve thermal insulation
- Avoid the use of portable electric heaters – they are incredibly expensive
Allowing and encouraging staff to wear weather-appropriate clothing (rather than enforcing a strict uniform policy) can also make a huge difference.
4. Minimise water usage
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the UK wastes over £68 million each year from overfilling kettles. Imagine how much unnecessary energy is being used if extra water is boiled every time someone makes a cup of tea of coffee.
Businesses are also charged commercial water and sewerage rates on a volumetric basis, so it’s in your best interests to minimise usage and encourage staff to do their part.
Ask your water supplier if they can install a smart reader to help you monitor consumption. You could also save a considerable amount of money by lowering the hot water temperature and using a timer to restrict the hours of hot water availability.
If you use a dishwasher, consider upgrading to an energy-efficient model, choose the eco setting, and only run it when it is full.
5. Turn off appliances when not in use
Leaving appliances on standby mode wastes a lot of energy, with the average UK household spending £55/year powering appliances left on standby.
Depending on the size of your business and the industry you operate in, this could be adding a sizeable sum to your bills.
To save money, unplug equipment – such as printers, TVs, chargers, coffee machines, and microwaves – when they’re not being used.
Ask employees to turn off their computers at the end of the day, and when they’re not in use for an extended period of time. By doing so, you can reduce the energy consumption of these devices by 75% a year, according to the Carbon Trust.
Choose equipment with an A+ energy rating. And try to use laptops instead of desktop computers whenever possible, as they consume 90% less electricity.
6. Monitor energy consumption closely
If you only take meter readings occasionally, you won’t know when you’re using (and potentially wasting) the most energy. Consequently, it will be harder to understand your business energy consumption, make necessary adjustments, and save money on your bills.
The best solution is to install a smart meter and take readings throughout the day. This will enable you to:
- Gain a clear picture of business energy usage in real-time
- Determine how much electricity your appliances and devices use
- Programme the thermostat accordingly
- Set and maintain a preferred temperature, rather than switching the heating on and off manually
- Compare energy usage against previous days, weeks, and months
- Set a daily spending budget and be alerted when you go over this amount
- Get accurate bills, rather than estimates. Meter readings are sent to your provider automatically, so there is no need to provide manual readings
It’s also worthwhile keeping your thermostat somewhere with limited access. This ensures that temperature settings are controlled by only certain people in the business.
With greater control, you will gain valuable insight into your business energy usage and behaviour. This will allow you to make informed decisions about the best ways to achieve your energy-saving goals.
If you’d like to install a smart meter, contact your energy supplier for more information or visit Smart Energy GB.
7. Offer flexible working
Flexible working can provide a host of benefits to employees and businesses. Aside from increasing staff wellbeing and productivity, allowing your employees to work from home, or implementing a four-day work week, where possible, can improve energy efficiency.
With fewer people on the premises, less equipment will be being used in the office (including that expensive overfilled kettle). And if all employees have the same day off or work from home at the same time, you could save a huge amount of money on your lighting and heating.
When Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day work week in 2019, one of the many benefits experienced by the business was a 23% reduction in electricity costs.
If remote working becomes a permanent fixture for your entire workforce, you may also be able to reduce the number of rooms in use or move to smaller premises.
You could save even more money by using co-working spaces or a serviced office for staff and client meetings – rather than continuing to rent expensive, rarely used premises. If you choose to go down this route, a professional registered office service will help you to maintain your corporate image.
8. Use less paper
Transitioning to digital working can go a long way toward reducing your business energy bills. It can take time, and you may not be able to avoid the printer altogether, but it’s nevertheless a smart move.
Instead of printing on paper, consider using a digital document management system like DocuWare to safely store, share, and edit documents.
When important documents need to be signed, consider using electronic signature software like DocuSign. Not only does eliminate the need to print, sign, and store paperwork, but it is also far more secure.
If employees work together on general tasks and specialised projects, try to do as much sharing as possible online. Look at cloud-based applications like Google Docs or Dropbox, and collaboration tools such as Trello, Asana, and Slack.
You can even get scanning apps to convert paperwork into PDFs and upload the files to your digital document management system. This will ensure that everything is organised and securely stored in one place.
9. Involve your employees
Engaging employees in energy-saving measures is crucial to success. To reduce business energy consumption and bills, everyone needs to be on the same page and do their part.
Brief employees on your plans and goals. Explain the importance and benefits of reducing energy consumption, and provide learning materials – online, not on paper! Repeat the message on a regular basis to keep it at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
To remind employees of your goals, consider the following:
- Create and share an official energy-saving policy
- Conduct recap meetings
- Keep staff up to date with results
- Place signs in apt locations requesting that they close doors, turn off lights, unplug appliances, etc
- Put up posters to highlight energy-saving measures
- Designate an ‘energy champion’ in each team/department
- Offer rewards as an incentive for hitting targets
- Hold energy-efficiency competitions between departments
- Relax strict dress codes and encourage staff to wear weather-appropriate clothing in the workplace, e.g. thermals and jumpers in the winter
You could also motivate staff to reduce energy consumption in their homes, sharing interesting and useful resources that could help them to lower their utility bills.
10. Evaluate customers’ use of laptops and charging facilities
Certain types of businesses, like cafes and bars, are prone to ‘cheeky chargers’. These are customers who charge their laptops, tablets, and phones on the premises. This has come to be expected in many places, increasingly so in the advent of remote working.
Some businesses are choosing to ban laptop use. Either outright or during the busiest periods – in a bid to prevent customers from overstaying whilst underspending. For others, however, allowing people to charge and use their devices can increase sales and encourage repeat custom.
In light of rising energy prices, it would be wise to weigh up the pros and cons of this situation. Does your particular business benefit from laptop users? Will you lose more money than you will save from prohibiting laptop use or charging facilities?
A potential solution may be to provide working customers with a unique Wifi code that gives limited-time access to the internet. You could provide this for free with every minimum order purchase, or charge a small fee for each hour of access. This could counter the extra cost of energy without the risk of losing valuable custom.
If you’re struggling to pay your business energy bills
No one has escaped the rising cost of living that we’re currently experiencing in the UK. It is a concerning time for many households and businesses.
Growing numbers of small firms have been forced to close their doors as a direct result of unaffordable utility bills—some of which have increased tenfold.
Moreover, new data from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals that 53% of firms predict they will stagnate, downsize, or close in the next 12 months.
If you’re struggling to pay your business energy bills, it’s important to act quickly.
- Check your bills and compare against meter readings to make sure you’re not being overcharged
- Contact your suppliers immediately to discuss your options. You may be able to set up a payment plan, take a payment break, or access schemes and grants
- Ask for a smart meter to be installed, if you don’t already have one
- Improve energy efficiency to reduce consumption and costs
If you are unsure about anything, contact Citizens Advice for impartial advice on dealing with your business energy bills.
So there you have it…how to reduce your business energy bills
The spiralling cost of energy is just one of a number of pressures affecting the UK. With bills expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, getting to grips with your business energy consumption must be a top priority.
Starting with an energy audit, there are countless ways to reduce the amount of gas and electricity you use in the workplace. Once you have a clear picture of where the most energy is being used, you’ll be able to cut out waste and reduce your business energy bills.
We hope this post has been helpful as you begin your energy-saving journey. Please leave a comment below if you have any tips to share with other small business owners.