The cost of fuel has been one of the year’s major talking points and things are set to get worse for businesses, as the energy price cap for October is set to be confirmed by Ofgem this Friday.
It has been widely documented that many households up and down the UK are going to struggle to heat their homes or pay their bills this winter. Business leaders are also struggling, with many needing to make a call on whether powering their premises is sustainable.
With a change in Prime Minister also in the offing, all eyes will be on the next leader to see what level of support they pledge to offer. This could either help or hinder the finances and livelihoods of millions.
Business finance expert from NerdWallet, Connor Campbell said, “The rising cost of utility bills is unsustainable and millions of people will be massively affected by the price cap hike. Not only are consumers bearing the brunt, but business owners are also struggling. Extra support may be needed sooner rather than later.
“There are ongoing debates about whether hybrid working employees will go into work in the winter months just to save on energy bills, but what does this mean for business leaders who may be thinking the opposite and encouraging people to work from home?
“It’s a tough situation we find ourselves in, but there are some steps that business leaders can take now to try and soften the blow as we approach the backend of 2022. It’s always worth shopping around for a good deal and doing your research to see what you might be able to save.”
To try and help businesses owners prepare for the winter energy price rises, Connor has shared his five top picks from NerdWallet’s guide to save money on business energy. They are:
1. Carry out an energy audit
To find out where you can make savings, it’s worth first carrying out an energy audit to assess where you use the most energy in your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot areas where you’re potentially wasting energy – and money – and you can make changes.
You should take stock of your workplace at different times throughout the day to get an idea of when and where your business uses the most energy. Can you spot any trends or spikes in energy usage?
For example, if you noticed that your energy bill was still high overnight despite no one being in the office at that time, you could be wasting energy on computers on standby or heating an empty office unnecessarily. By assessing how much energy is used, when it’s being used and why, you can make a plan for change.
Organisations such as the Carbon Trust and the Energy Savings Trust also offer advice on how your business can use energy more efficiently.
2. Keep an eye on your appliances
Appliances such as computers can use energy even when they’re on standby. If you leave your laptop or desktop computer on overnight while you’re not using it, you’re wasting electricity. The Carbon Trust estimates that by turning computers off at night and at weekends, you could cut the amount of energy these devices use by 75% per year, which could have a positive impact on your business energy bill.
Printers, TV monitors and even appliances such as microwaves in your work kitchen can also use energy in the background when they’re switched on but not in use. You could save money by turning these off at the electric socket when you’ve finished using them or overnight.
If you operate from a warehouse rather than an office, the same principle applies. You should turn off tools and equipment when they’re not in use.
How energy-efficient your appliances are has an impact on how much energy they use and, as a result, how much energy your business has to pay for.
Although it may not always be possible when budgets are tight, replacing older, less efficient appliances with more modern, energy-efficient ones can help you save some money on your energy bill.
If you can’t afford to replace your appliances at the moment, it’s still important to have them regularly cleaned, checked and maintained. For example, if you work from a warehouse that manages chilled goods, you could ensure that your refrigerators are not overstocked, which can block air vents and affect energy efficiency. Also make sure they are serviced from time to time. Regular maintenance can help ensure that your devices work correctly and are as efficient as possible, keeping your costs down.
3. Save energy as a team
Saving energy in the workplace is a team effort. If you have employees, get them involved in the little nudges that can save your business money.
You may want to send weekly emails to staff about what they can do to help, or ask for their suggestions on how to improve energy efficiency in the workplace.
4. Check your lighting
According to EDF Energy, lighting a workspace can account for up to 40% of your business energy bill, so it’s important to ensure that your lighting set-up is energy-efficient.
Make sure you turn off lights when you’re not using a room, and especially when leaving your workplace for an extended period of time (such as overnight or during a holiday period).
When it comes to replacing light bulbs, it’s worth making sure that you buy energy-efficient options such as LEDs. These last longer and cost less to maintain than traditional bulbs. You may also be able to use lower-wattage bulbs or fit more energy-efficient light fixtures to further reduce the electricity needed to light your workspace.
Installing motion sensors – so that lights only turn on when someone is in the room – is another way you could save on your energy usage. If that isn’t an option for your business right now, try to make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room. You may find that sticking a note by the light switch may help everyone remember to do this.
5. Switch energy supplier
The ongoing energy crisis is likely to affect your business energy bills. Prices are being pushed up across the board, so switching your energy supplier may not have a huge effect on the price of your energy at the moment.
However, it can be possible to save money by switching your business energy supplier.
If you’re in the middle of a business energy contract, you’ll usually have to wait until the end of your current contract to switch, and you may need to give notice too. If you’re not tied into a contract – if you’re on a deemed or default tariff, for example – you should be able to switch whenever you choose.
When you’re not fixed into a contract, it can be worth comparing different suppliers to see if they offer deals that suit your needs.
Alternatively, if you are still in contract and can’t switch suppliers but want to save money on your business energy bill, your current supplier may let you switch to a cheaper tariff. You’ll need to contact your energy provider to see if this is an option for your business.
Ofgem has a list of schemes and grants, which can help your business become more energy-efficient without breaking the bank. For example, you may be able to get help from the government to pay for new energy-efficient equipment. Your energy supplier may also offer grants for small businesses to help with similar costs.
It’s worth checking what funding is available from a range of sources, as you might find that going green is easier or cheaper than you think.