You might think that big businesses are creating most of the environmental footprint of UK PLC – but remember that there are 4.8 million small businesses in the UK. The EU thinks that small and medium sized businesses (those with 250 employees or less) are responsible for more than 60% of business’ environmental footprint.
Realise what it could be worth!
SME’s know that maintaining and growing sales & orders is imperative– customers must come first. But studies have shown that a massive 20% potential saving on energy spend lies within SMEs. What would a 20% saving mean for your business? It’s probably £100s+. Would you ignore a job with £100+ profit?
Tip 1. Check Your Numbers
You wouldn’t pay a supplier invoice without checking details – but busy businesses do pay estimated utility bills. Don’t rack up credit or build up unexpected debts – check those numbers!
Tip 2. Price Comparison
Businesses only get one opportunity a year to change electricity / gas suppliers. Miss the window for this changeover and you may find you’ve been put on a rate which is not competitively priced – just like mobile phone contracts. Watch out for your window and use a free brokerage company to check the market for you.You can look at eco-chain to find energy brokers.
Tip 3. Temperature
No two people will agree what the ideal temperature is for workspace. For an office, most people are comfortable at 19 or 20 degrees C. Every time you turn your thermostat down 1 degree C you will save 8% on your fuel bill.
Tip 4. Turn Offs
Switch off everything you can overnight and when your business is closed. Invest in timer switches and check these are set correctly every now and again (including ones on your heating system!).
Tip 5. Bright Lights – Big Spending
If lights are often left on in under-used space, investigate motion sensors to control this automatically. Get savvy with lower energy light bulbs – many are available which will go into your existing fixtures and give the same light effect with lower energy use and a longer lifespan.
Tip 6. Don’t Pay Rubbish Prices
Waste bills are another thing that accountants in small businesses just pay and don’t think really think about. Could you get a cheaper rate and more of your waste recycled from another provider? Get some quotes and check.
Tip 7. Look Your Rubbish In The Eye
Take a moment to look at what you are throwing away – you might be surprised. If you see lots of leaflets, you might discover you’re over-ordering publicity. You might find lots of cardboard and paper and realise you could recycle this. Reduce what you throw away and you could reduce your waste bills and your environmental footprint.
Tip 8. Un-Binables
A quick reminder: current regulations mean that electronic items, fluorescent light bulbs and batteries should all NOT go in your general waste bin. Speak to your current waste contractor for special pickup of these items. Check out the Gov.UK website if you want to read up on these regulations yourself. You could be rapped on the knuckles with a fine if you get this wrong.
Tip 9. Listen To Your People
The people who know your business best are your employees. Ask questions and get the whole team involved – you’ll be surprised at how much waste they may have already noticed.
Tip 10. Show off your Green Streak
Many buyers are looking for environmentally savvy suppliers. Have an environmental policy which reflects your current action points & update this every year. Many small businesses buy local as a policy point – this gets a big green thumbs up. If you’re asked about your green credentials a lot, you might want to consider developing a formal Environmental Management System (ISO 14001) or look into the new Investors in the Environment accreditation.
A shortened version of the above was published in the Yorkshire Post’s Business Supplement in Spring 2012.
And…since then we’ve come across another tip so top we just had to add it.
Tip 11. Ask Suppliers to Guarantee Savings
Sadly there are ‘snake oil’ salesmen in the Green world as in any other. A really good energy manager recently gave us his top tip: if any contractors quote expected energy savings to you, ask if they are willing to guarantee them should you make a purchase. Contractors who are above board & confident in their numbers should be fine with this. Those who aren’t…. are probably the people you should be avoiding. Stay on top of your energy numbers & costs & you should be able to see yourself that savings are being made.