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Services sector wasting millions on energy bills

According to new analysis, UK SMEs in the services sector are wasting over £414 million per year on unnecessary energy expenditure, largely due to inefficient technology and old equipment.

According to new analysis, UK SMEs in the services sector are wasting over £414 million per year on unnecessary energy expenditure, largely due to inefficient technology and old equipment.

The data was compiled by the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme, a joint initiative between the Carbon Trust and Siemens to provide energy-related financing for SMEs.

EEF looked at the use of lighting, heating and hot water, cooling and ventilation, and other areas of energy consumption across key service sectors and calculated that SMEs could save £414 million a year by investing in more energy efficient equipment. Commercial office businesses could save £82 million alone. 

‘Significant savings’

Myles McCarthy, managing director of Carbon Trust Implementation Services, said: “By investing in energy efficient equipment as well as renewable energy technology, businesses can reap significant energy savings and cut down on their energy bills.

“Any sort of investment is a step towards saving money, improving business competitiveness and being a responsible citizen. Organisations that recognise the long-term benefits brought by energy efficiency will no doubt be better positioned than competitors to grow their businesses more sustainably and profitably.”

The EEF scheme launched in 2011 as the first dedicated low carbon finance scheme in the UK, offering finance for a range of green technologies such as low energy lighting, solar PV, energy efficient motors, low carbon air conditioning or biomass heating.

The aim of the scheme is to make energy efficient and renewable energy equipment more accessible and affordable, particularly for SMEs.

Tackling barriers

Richard Baker, sales manager at the EEF scheme, said that access to funding was a key barrier to improving energy efficiency.

“Today’s tightened credit environment makes it increasingly difficult for SMEs to obtain affordable funding”, he said. “Consequently, many firms feel discouraged from investing in green technologies because of insufficient access to capital.”

However, research from ENWORKS published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in January 2015 suggests that barriers to energy efficiency are often far more complex and that getting expert support is crucial.

The research, which analysed data from 3,000 SMEs, found that over a third of cost savings from energy efficiency opportunities require zero capital investment to be implemented.

Savings guide

In March 2015, DECC published a guide to help SMEs take low-cost measures to save energy.

Launching the report, energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, argued that the benefits of energy efficiency go beyond cost and environmental considerations.

“By taking simple steps to improve your energy efficiency you can enhance the working environment for your staff and tap into new business opportunities, as more and more businesses are choosing suppliers that can demonstrate their resource efficiency”, she said.