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November 01, 2011

Just one in five small businesses is energy efficient, claims E.ON

Just one in five small UK businesses has energy-efficient equipment in the workplace, according to research commissioned by energy supplier E.ON, writes Simon Wicks

Drawing on previous research by the Carbon Trust, the energy company has claimed that UK small businesses could collectively save £7.7 billion by becoming more energy efficient. This is almost 20 times the Carbon Trust’s own estimate that energy-saving measures can save small businesses £400 million.

E.ON’s figure is based on the results of a survey of 1,167 small businesses which found that just 21 per cent of respondents had energy-efficient equipment. Eight out of ten (81 per cent) had no energy monitor installed and 13 per cent of businesses left windows open while air conditioning was on.

The survey also found that almost all businesses in the finance and professional services sectors (97 and 91 per cent respectively) were unaware of the savings they could make through simple measures. Previous research by E.ON has found that the majority of businesses believe leaving computers in standby mode uses less energy than switching them off completely.

Iain Walker, head of business sales at E.ON, said: “Four out of five small businesses are not aware of the significant savings that can be made by becoming more energy efficient in the workplace.

“Introducing small changes in business behaviour, like installing energy-saving equipment, light sensors and smart meters, can have a significant financial impact on your energy bills,” he added.

In May 2011, the Carbon Trust found that UK small businesses could save on average £2,000 by taking carbon footprint reduction and certification measures. Using this figure and their own finding that 79 per cent of small businesses have not introduced energy saving measures, E.ON has concluded that UK small businesses collectively could make savings of up to £7.7 billion by becoming more energy efficient.

However, Paul McKinney, head of advice dissemination for the Carbon Trust, said E.ON had used the Trust’s calculation incorrectly. “We say that small and medium-sized enterprises using our Standard have saved £2,000 on average. E.ON has taken this to say that all small and medium-sized enterprise can save £2,000 and applied this to the 4.7 million small businesses in the UK, of whom four million are sole traders or have just one employee,” he said.

“Clearly the actual amount that any business can save depends on their size and energy spend,” McKinney added. “On average we find that most small and medium-sized enterprises can save up to 20 per cent through cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.”