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Only 1 in 10 SMEs audit energy use

Government research has revealed that very few small or medium sized businesses have ever considered conducting an energy audit, despite the opportunities they can uncover.

Government research has revealed that very few small or medium sized businesses have ever considered conducting an energy audit, despite the opportunities they can uncover. 

The findings come from telephone surveys of 1,346 SMEs and 601 non-SMEs between 2014 and 2015.

The aim of the research was to understand attitudes towards the government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) auditing rules for non-SMEs, but also monitor the uptake of audits across the business community more generally.

Audits

Although 84 per cent of the largest organisations (at least 1,000 employees) surveyed inspect and survey their energy use through audits, the number drops dramatically for smaller businesses.

Only nine per cent of all SMEs said they had ever conducted an audit, although the number rises to 42 per cent for larger SMEs with 50-249 employees.

However, despite being ignored by the majority, the SMEs that have chosen to take audits have largely benefitted. More than four in five SMEs took action as a result of an audit, with two thirds implementing an energy efficiency technology and just over half making behavioural changes.  

The most commonly implemented measure was energy efficient lighting (58 per cent), following by heating (50 per cent) and insulation (46 per cent) improvements.

Benefits

Over half made a financial savings as a result of their actions, with an additional small minority saying it was too early to assess the impact of their changes. For larger SMEs, nearly three quarters reported savings of at least £500 in the last year.

Over a quarter of those taking energy audits also reported changing their energy provider, and seven per cent even created an internal team to deal with energy efficiency matters. 

While financial savings was the main incentive for taking action (71 per cent), other motivations included environmental performance (28 per cent), staff comfort (5 per cent) or that it was convenient as machinery was being replaced anyway (4 per cent).

Support available

A government-backed beginner’s guide to energy efficiency and energy audits is available here

Businesses in Greater Manchester can also benefit from fully-funded, expert-led energy efficiency support from the Business Growth Hub