Carbon Trust/ Energy efficiency advice for SMEs

Simple measures can deliver significant benefits when it comes
to energy efficiency. Here the Carbon Trust outlines some initial steps that small to medium-sized companies can take.

Measures to reduce carbon emissions and save energy are becoming more widely adopted across the UK. The government has recently committed to reducing UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, demonstrating growing ambition on climate change.

Companies are waking up to the cost advantages of reducing their energy consumption, as well as the reputational ones. However, not all businesses have fully embraced energy efficiency widow.

In 2016, ScottishPower commissioned a survey from YouGov which found that over 60% of UK small to medium-sized businesses (SME) business owners don’t regard energy efficiency in the workplace as a key priority, and more than half of SME business owners don’t have any active measures in place to reduce energy use.

For many SMEs, their reticence can often be attributed to concerns around the time and money required to implement these measures. However, energy savings can be quicker and more affordable than many believe and can bring a wide range of benefits to a business that far outweigh the costs.

Where to start

There are many low to no cost measures that can be implemented to achieve significant reductions on energy bills. Businesses can save 5-10% on their energy costs through minimal capital expenditure measures, such as behavioural changes e.g. switching off equipment and closing windows at the end of the day. Small changes, including the avoidance of over-heating and over-cooling (especially during non-operational hours) and engaging employees on taking energy saving measures, can make a big difference.

Companies can also start reducing energy by looking at energy bills and taking regular meter readings. By analysing energy consumption, companies can identify where energy wastage can be minimised and improve their overall decision making on energy usage.

Installing a smart meter can provide vital information on those areas of a business that are consuming the most energy. While, installing cost-effective technologies with short payback periods, such as LED lighting, should also be undertaken where possible.

To ensure the best results, taking action to reduce energy consumption should not be a one-off initiative, but rather part of a comprehensive plan. Companies who perform regular energy reviews will help to ensure that energy saving policies are delivering the promised benefits.

Other than saving money on energy bills and lowering the environmental footprint of your business, saving energy can also reap reputational benefits. Customers are increasingly attracted to environmentally conscious companies, which can give a competitive advantage.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement in resource efficiency and carbon reduction measures can help change behaviour in the workplace to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, cut an organisation’s carbon emissions and realise significant savings. It is vital that companies communicate their energy management plan to employees at every stage, as effective energy management relies on everyone being involved and playing their part.

Among the benefits of employee engagement are:

  • Energy savings: a well implemented employee engagement scheme can lead to energy savings of approximately 5-10%. 
  • Employee satisfaction: participation in employee engagement schemes can make employees feel valued. Knowing that their organisation cares about sustainability can improve employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Reputation: an employee engagement scheme around sustainability shows that an organisation cares about both its employees and the environment which can positively impact its reputation with its customers and other stakeholders, such as suppliers and investors.

How the Carbon Trust can help you

The Carbon Trust has produced a number of guides and resources to support SMEs who are trying to become more energy efficient. These can be downloaded free in the Tools, Guides and Reports section on the Carbon Trust website: 

The Carbon Trust also has free online tools available which are specifically designed for SME businesses in the UK and which take users through a step-by-step process with the aim of reducing their energy bills. They include the:

  • SME Energy Benchmark Tool: comparing relative performance of sites against industry benchmarks, helping to prioritise savings opportunities.
  • SME Carbon Footprint Calculator: enabling companies to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Lighting Business Case Tool: assessing current lighting use and potential savings from upgrading to more efficient lighting and controls.

Sector and technology guides, energy saving
self-assessment tools, and more information
can be found online at:

Previous articleConstruction lift-off for aviation maintenance hub
Next articleHow energy market changes could affect your business and its sustainability