Guide to business energy audits
No matter the size or type of business you run, you will rely on energy. However, most businesses don’t use energy as efficiently as they could.
Even those who have switched to the best value business energy deal could be losing money due to a lack of energy efficiency.
The best way to increase your businesses energy efficiency is by carrying out an energy audit. Here, Love Energy Savings explain what is involved in a business energy audit and how it can help you reduce costs.
What is a business energy audit?
A business energy audit is an assessment of the energy needs and energy efficiency of your business premises.
An audit can assess everything that affects energy usage and efficiency, from the structure of your building to the equipment you use. This will give you an in-depth understanding of current energy usage to identify areas where it can be reduced.
Why should your business carry out an energy audit?
Energy audits are a legal requirement for large businesses with more than 250 employees. Even though SMEs are not legally required to carry out an audit, they can still be incredibly beneficial.
Research by Green Alliance found that wasted energy across just 5 UK cities were costing businesses £60millon in unnecessary energy bills.
An energy audit will allow your business to identify areas of energy wastage and take steps to improve your efficiency.
Energy efficiency measures do not need to be expensive, so there’s no need to worry if your business doesn’t have significant funds to invest. Even something as simple as changing your lighting could help reduce your energy expenditure.
Not only can a business energy audit help to reduce your bills, but it can also have great environmental benefits.
The UK has set a target of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by the year 2050, putting pressure on organisations to reduce emissions where possible.
Taking steps to reduce your energy wastage will reflect positively on your business, allowing you to demonstrate your environmentally friendly credentials.
Types of business energy audits
Energy audits are often carried out by your supplier or an external company, however, businesses can carry out their own audit.
Private audits can involve an on-site visit or a simple consultation over the phone. The type of energy audit you carry out will often depend on how much time and finances your businesses would like to invest in the process.
On-site business energy audits
There is a wide range of energy auditors in the UK who will provide your business with an on-site consultation, highlighting areas where you could save money.
During an on-site energy audit, an expert will visit your business for a day to assess your energy usage and provide advice on reducing your consumption levels. They will also assess the equipment your business uses including air conditioning, heating systems, lighting, and any other appliances.
After the assessment, you will be provided with an action plan outlining your current energy usage and ways in which you can reduce your energy consumption. You should also receive details of how much any proposed changes will cost and the likely impact of the changes.
Over the phone business energy audits
If you complete a business energy assessment over the phone, an expert will ask a series of questions about your usage.
They will use this information to provide you with a plan on how you can improve your energy efficiency. The plan will contain a series of energy-saving tips and the costs involved.
An over the phone energy audit may be free to new customers when you switch energy business supplier.
DIY business energy audits
Performing your own energy audit - no matter how basic it is - will give you the perfect opportunity to get a real understanding of your company’s utility bills and usage.
Although it will not be as thorough and expertly carried out as a professional audit, you will be able to spot the tell-tale signs of energy wastage.
Start by taking a quick tour of your premises – check for air leaks around doorways, identify the types of light bulbs you use, and look at the insulation you have. Take notes of every issue you have found so you can prioritise which ones need to be tackled first.
Although some improvements may be more time consuming – or need professional advice and support – there are some very quick wins you can achieve to make a considerable difference to your energy usage.
What is involved in a business energy assessment?
Most assessments of your business’ energy usage can be broken down into three areas.
Assessing your current usage
The first step to completing an energy audit is finding out where energy is currently being used and lost.
This may show areas where energy usage can be reduced through simply changing habits. For example, if lighting or heating is commonly left on in rooms with little use.
Planning improvements and costs
If you are carrying out a DIY audit, it’s important to work out the costs involved for any changes and the potential savings of the measures you put in place. This will allow you to get an understanding of the pay-back time so you can prioritise projects which will offer the most immediate savings.
Implementing your findings
Once you’ve identified problem areas and the costs involved, you can start implementing your findings.
If any financial decisions require sign-off, make sure you put together a business case demonstrating the benefits of implementing the changes. It’s also advisable for managers to communicate changes to employees, ensuring all staff can be involved in reducing energy usage across the business.
Tips for improving your energy efficiency
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving energy efficiency, it’s safe to assume that most businesses will encounter similar issues when it comes to wasting energy
Reducing energy waste and making your business greener doesn’t always need to cost a fortune. Here, we’ve provided some top tips for improving your business energy efficiency.
Check your insulation
Insulation is the most effective and long-standing method to improve energy efficiency within any business premises.
Research by Which? found that savings of up to £215 a year can be made simply by fitting loft insulation in your premises. The initial cost of installation should be recouped within two years, so it’s a very shrewd long-term investment for any SME.
Install energy-efficient lightbulbs
This is one of the quickest ways to make a simple energy change and can reduce lighting costs by up to 90%. There are two main varieties of energy-efficient light bulbs on the market - Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and the more popular choice, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
CFLs are most widely used in the home, thanks to their cost-effective qualities. However, for commercial and business use, LEDs are the way to go. They are more expensive initially but will save you more money in the long run, making them perfect for business use.
Use appliances wisely
Each year, businesses fork out millions of pounds running electrical appliances including computers and printers.
Reducing your printer usage can have a real impact on making an office greener. Not only will you cut down on energy usage, but you can also reduce the amount of paper you use.
Now we don’t expect you and your employees to never use the printer; that just wouldn’t be practical. But there are little changes you can make. Request that your bank, suppliers, customers etc. send all documents online. This improves productivity and considerably cuts down your paper usage.
Making sure desktop computers and laptops are turned off overnight will also cut down on needless energy consumption. For a small business, leaving desktop computers on overnight during the week could cost more than £5,000 a year in wasted energy.
Provide training for staff
To really get your staff on board, provide them with some green energy training. There are many workshop providers that will come to your premises and educate your workers on the importance of energy efficiency.
It could transform the way in which your employees look at your business and how they can get involved in your green energy project.
Switch to a green energy tariff
A simple way to make your business more eco-friendly is to consider switching to a green business energy tariff.
With a green energy tariff, your supplier will offer 100% renewable business electricity and up to 100% renewable business gas. Where it isn’t possible to provide 100% renewable gas, the shortfall will be made up for through carbon offsetting.
Carbon offsetting involves investing in green energy projects such as environmental research or the planting of trees.
Over recent years, there has been a rapid growth in the green energy tariffs available to both businesses and homeowners.
At Love Energy Savings, we can help your business find the best possible green energy deals which match the needs of your business. You can find out how much you can save when switching by completing our online energy comparison tool.