It is a difficult time for UK businesses. Those that survived the COVID pandemic now face record energy prices, compounded by rising UK interest rates and inflation. This summer is a critical time for businesses to brace and reduce costs.
For those with offices, shopfronts and other premises, reducing electricity and gas bills is in the Business Survival 101 manual, especially as winter is coming.
So how do you go about it? The easiest way is through an energy audit, in which we give you an overview of all the options, from hiring third-party experts to doing your own DIY audit.
Why exactly do I need an energy audit?
An energy audit lets you see how much and where your business is using energy, as well as how to go about reducing that usage and ultimately the business rates and bills.
Where do I start?
You cannot know to solve the problem until you know what it actually is, so taking an honest look at your own business is the first step of an audit. Can you do this yourself or can you benefit from an impartial outside view?
Depending on the size and in-house capabilities of your business, you can either contact a third party expert to do the audit on-site or over the phone, or if you are confident, do it yourself through a checklist.
This involves having an energy specialist come to your site to review everything: lighting, heating, air conditioning, electrical appliances, insulation, etc. Once reviewed, the specialist normally provides you with an action plan to reduce your bills.
Obviously, a visit comes at the highest cost but also guarantees you get the most in-depth energy assessment, especially if you or your staff do not have any technical subject knowledge.
If an on-site audit is equivalent to visiting your GP, the phone-based audit is like having your GP call you and ask you a bunch of questions.
Note: an over-the-phone audit may also be offered for free if you change small business energy suppliers.
This is a great low-cost alternative for those who are relatively technical to get some guidance and then proceed with the changes themselves.
DIY Internal Audit
This is for those with the confidence or in-house resources to give it a go independently.
Ultimately, many of the changes do not require a PhD in Nuclear Physics, and following a checklist may suffice in solving the big energy inefficiencies.
Examples include insulating your offices, changing to LED lightbulbs and having a smart meter would be energy efficient.
Suggestions if you go DIY Audit
Step 1: Review
Your first task would be to review as much information as is available to you regarding energy usage, bills, energy suppliers, and your premises’ infrastructure over the last 4-5 years.
- Take into account that energy bills are subject to market price fluctuations, as well as usage and supplier fees.
- Try to recall any changes that you implemented and how these have affected usage.
- Remember that seasonal changes will change your usage due to heating/cooling.
- Assess your premises’ energy efficiency: double-glazing, old gas pipes, electrical heating.
Step 2: Plan
Once you have identified any patterns, it is time to create a list of actions.
- Address the cheapest, highest-impact changes first.
- Sometimes drastic changes such as changing premises, or altogether going remote may be the best solution.
- Think long-term, any green energy solutions you can implement now will reduce your costs in the long run as environmental regulations and emissions caps are introduced.
- Changing electricity and gas suppliers can often reduce your bills, as well as your carbon footprint. AquaSwitch has the best electricity supplier and gas supplier comparison tool.
Step 3: Execute
Again, depending on your level of in-house expertise and confidence, you may choose to install those solar panels yourself or outsource those new double-glazed windows.
And don’t be scared of thinking outside the box, my hippie uncle’s advice on using bubble wrap to insulate my old flat once saved me hundreds of pounds in energy bills.