|Energy bills are one of the biggest expenses for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but it’s surprising just how many aren’t actively trying to bring them down. A ScottishPower survey has found that nearly two-thirds of SME owners don’t consider energy-efficiency in the workplace a big priority. Meanwhile, more than half admitted they don’t have any active measures in place to try to cut energy usage, and just 1 in 10 have actively tried to reduce energy consumption in the last year.
The reason we’re surprised is because the financial benefits of becoming more energy-efficient are very well known these days. Indeed, the Carbon Trust believes a typical SME could reduce their energy costs by about 20-30% simply by making small behavioural changes such as turning off equipment when it isn’t being used and investing in more efficient technologies, such as LED lighting.
Introduce green policies
According to the ScottishPower survey, half of all SMEs don’t have measures in place to encourage employees to turn off lights and equipment at the end of each working day. Similarly, two-thirds haven’t implemented policies regarding printing. That’s a significant proportion of SMEs who stand to benefit from fairly small behavioural changes, with large sums of money being freed up to be reinvested elsewhere in their business.
Reward staff for going green
One area where new money can be reinvested is in rewarding staff who adhere to the new green policies. It’s a great way of giving them a vested interested in your energy-efficiency drive, as they’ll get something tangible out of it. That could be anything from a financial bonus to gifts and giveaways such as sweets or a fancy pen. At the same time, you could give employees reusable items that help them reduce their environmental impact further, such as travel mugs, water bottles and cotton bags. It all helps to promote an eco-friendly message throughout your workforce, which may in turn become a positive and distinctive message you can convey to customers.
Let staff work remotely
Another good way to minimise energy usage on your premises is to consider if some staff could work from home, a local coffee shop or another offsite location. It’d place less demand on your IT infrastructure and office facilities, and positions you as a progressive employer at a time when flexible working opportunities are becoming increasingly popular. You can reinforce your commitment to flexible working by providing staff with equipment to make it easier, from branded USB sticks to notebooks bearing your name and logo.
Carry out energy audits
No business stands still, so it pays to regularly monitor how you are using your energy and where changes could be made. According to ScottishPower, just 1 in 10 SMEs perform an energy audit each year. So while many firms might have made positive changes recently, they aren’t necessarily building on it and driving further improvements down the line and missing out on possible savings and reductions in their carbon footprint.
While many businesses are aware they could be doing more, some will be put off by the belief that becoming more energy-efficient is costly, difficult and time-consuming. But making smart energy choices doesn’t have to be any of these things and can go a long way towards helping your firm make better use of both energy and money.
Sources / Further Reading
New survey reveals UK SMEs missing out on vital energy savings Carbon Trus