Phil Foster, CEO of Love Energy Savings warns small and medium enterprises (SMEs) over rising energy cost despite the warm season and suggests ways to improve energy efficiency and save money.
It’s time to rejoice, summer is finally here! As a nation of weekend sun worshippers, we couldn’t be happier to see the rays shining through our windows and warming up our homes. However once the weekend is over and it’s back to business, our enthusiasm for a warm temperature starts to decline. After all, who wants to be in a stuck in a stuffy office for an entire day?
Summer months may turn the heat up on energy bills
Business owners who have consistently struggled with their energy bills may think that June will be the answer to their prayers, but unfortunately the warmer months may actually increase the size of energy bills for some companies. While it certainly does cost a large amount to have the heating running all of the time during the winter months, the addition of air conditioning throughout summer can also add a substantial chunk to your overall energy bills.
Air conditioning can increase a building’s overall energy consumption by 100%, according to the Carbon Trust. It takes up to ten units of electricity to produce just one unit of compressed air, when you consider how many air conditioning vents you have in an average sized office that operates at a typical 40 hour week, you can understand how summer energy bills rise so steeply.
Employee temperature wars can also cause energy bills to rise. Whatever time of the year it may be, there will always be some people who insist on having the heating on and others who are desperate to open all of the windows. This constant cooling and warming to meet employee demand can equate to a chaotic general temperature, as well as causing your energy bills to soar. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has estimated that electricity prices will rise by almost 30% for SMEs over the next five years, so the time has come to put our bad summer energy habits to bed.
In addition to this, brightly shining sun beaming into the office may seem pleasant at first but after spending an hour squinting at your computer screen it will be time to pull down the blinds and turn the lights on. Research by DECC revealed that lighting can create up to 40% of a business’ energy consumption, so it is crucial to keep these costs to a minimum.
Don’t take a vacation from being energy efficient
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has estimated that SMEs could reduce their energy bills by 18-25% by installing energy efficient measures around the office. But energy management is full-time, year-round job, which businesses should never take a break from.
Staff annual leave during the summer months means that everyone in the business should be even more vigilant when it comes to being energy efficient. While there may be less people in the office, it only takes a few pieces of equipment to be left on for a couple of weeks while people are away to significantly affect the cost of your energy bills.
It’s still not too late to transform your bad energy habits. Becoming more energy efficient doesn’t have to cost your business an arm and a leg, there are plenty of simple and cost effective strategies that can reduce your energy consumption.
Simple steps for saving money
1) To reduce the cost of your air conditioning, ensure that it is switched off in rooms that aren’t being used, for example meeting rooms and the kitchen.
2) Decide whether you are going to open windows or use the air conditioning to cool the room, never use both as these will waste energy.
3) Many systems operate with a controlled timer, so be sure to program the timer so that it doesn’t operate during weekends, bank holidays and evenings when employees are out of the workspace.
4) Utilise natural light by rearranging your office so that it doesn’t interfere with computer screens or people’s eyeline. If this is unavoidable, install sensored lights that are triggered by movement so that the lights will only switch on when people are working in the space.
For smaller businesses the DECC has released a guide for SMEs to enhance their energy efficiency. The report claims that energy prices are expected to rise by 30% over the next five years with a third of firms in the UK claiming it is the cost of energy which is a key barrier for growth. Despite this, many businesses are still falling into the trap of paying overly expensive energy tariffs.
New regulations mean that it now only takes six weeks to switch suppliers and energy price comparison sites, such as Love Energy Savings, can make the switching process even simpler. A business would only need to take 10 minutes out of their day to enter their postcode and estimated energy consumption for the best deal to be highlighted to them.
By implementing energy saving actions as soon as possible businesses could start saving money today. It is important that energy management is not pushed down to the bottom of the to-do list but starts to become a more important part of cash-flow and business management.
Phil Foster is the CEO of Love Energy Savings. Phil has always had a strong desire to support UK SMEs, helping them to make much needed savings on their energy bills. With that in mind, he created a business energy comparison service to help business owners not only improve their profits, but also save valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers. Advocating energy efficiency and awareness of energy usage, alongside tariff comparison, he is committed to helping SMEs save money so they can continue to grow.
Photo: oatsy40 via flickr
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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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