The average small and medium sized enterprise (SME) could reduce energy bills by 18-25% by installing energy efficiency measures and implementing behavioural change . If the average SME energy bill was £4,000 in 2020, it could rise to £10,000 in 2022. Installing energy efficiency measures could result in savings of £1,800 - £2,500 per year [2 and 3 ].
Quantifying the absolute cost savings of implementing energy efficiency measures is difficult as there are many factors to consider, such as the size of the business, the size and type of the building(s), the source of heating and how much heating and cooling used.
Simply put, it’s difficult to know exactly how much a business can save because they are all so different: a high street hairdressing salon does not consume electricity and use heat in the same way as a canned food manufacturing plant. We recommend businesses carry out an energy audit for accurate recommendations on carbon efficiency measures and cost savings. Commercial Energy & Utilities Consultancy | Advantage Utilities
However, there are initiatives all businesses can take to save money on energy bills whilst tackling climate change.
Heating is usually the most significant energy cost in a workplace, accounting for up to 40% of energy use in a non-domestic building
Heating and air conditioning
Make sure heating and air conditioning systems are not in use at the same time
- Check that employee desks aren’t too close or too far from radiators and air conditioning.
- Keep external doors and windows closed when using air conditioning to prevent warm air from getting into the building.
Install smart controls
- Set the heating in offices to 19°C and cooling at 24°C or higher. The temperature in corridors, storerooms and areas of higher physical activity can be set lower than 19°C.
- Turning off air conditioning and heating when meeting rooms are not in use.
- Make sure timers are set to the right date to make sure rooms are not heated or cooled during weekends or public holidays.
Prevent heat loss by stopping draughts
Seal unused doors and windows (excluding emergency exits) and fit draught-proofing measures such as excluders where drafts are identified (windows, external doors etc).
Consider smart windows
Low-e stops heat coming through windows from radiation. Low-emissivity (low-e) coatings on glass control heat transfer within the insulated glazing. Windows manufactured with low-e coatings typically cost about 10% to 15% more than regular windows, but they reduce energy loss by as much as 30% to 50%. 
Many rooms in the workplace are often lit unnecessarily leading to high energy costs and carbon emissions.
Use energy saving light bulbs
Halogen bulbs use around five times more energy than LEDs. Switching to LEDs is an easy win, with the potential to reduce lighting costs by as much as 85% - 90% [7 and 8]
Switch to motion sensor lights
Automatically turn off lights when meeting rooms are not in use. Consider timed switches, movement sensors and daylight sensors to reducing lighting costs.
Work natural light in your favour
Consider vertical window blinds, which let in more light (and heat) than horizontal ones when open or closed, such as brise soleil.
Alternatively, you can also opt for curtains and blinds with white backing to reflect light away and keep buildings cooler.
Turn devices off and enable power saving modes
Remember to turn off monitors and devices that might be left on standby at the end of the day.
You can also set office equipment, such as printers, to automatically shut down when not in use.
Optimise the brightness of monitors
Not only will this waste less energy but it can also reduce screen-induced headaches .
Switch to laptops
Laptops use less energy than desktop computers since they have smaller components .
Manufacturing and production equipment
- Switch off motors during breaks and lunch.
- Turn off all machines such as fans, pumps and conveyors at the end of the day.
- Label switches correctly so staff know which operating machinery they can turn off and how to do it correctly.
- Optimise the speed of equipment to save up to half its energy consumption.
- Listen for leaks in compressed air pipes.
- Change air filters regularly.
- Keep doors closed.
- Switch off lights inside cooled spaces when not needed.
- Don’t overfill refrigeration units.
- Defrost freezers regularly.
- Repair door seals.
- Make sure there is space around refrigeration unit vents to allow air to be drawn in and expelled.
Bigger changes equal bigger savings
Insulate your buildings
Insulation will create the largest savings on your energy bills. Consider the following:
- Are hot water tanks, boilers and pipes insulated?
- Are existing cavity walls insulated?
Install rooftop solar PV
Solar PV is not a quick win and required upfront capital, but it will save your business a lot of money over its equipment lifetime at current energy prices.
Myth: It's cheaper to leave the heating on low all day 
Having the heating on only when you need it is, in the long run, is the best way to save energy, and therefore money.
Myth: Turning lights off and back on uses more energy than leaving them on all the time 
It’s always best to turn them off when not required, even if it’s just for a short time
Myth: Devices on standby or chargers left in the socket do not use electricity while plugged into the socket but not in use 
‘Vampire Devices’ on standby or chargers left in the socket while not in use still use small amounts of electricity.
Behaviour change and workforce engagement
- Ensure employees are aware of the cost of wasted heat and air conditioning costs.
- Ensure employees are aware of their responsibility to turn off lights when they leave a room
- Inform employees that the thermostat should be turned down before opening windows
- Encourage staff to turn off monitors and computers at the plug when they leave and avoid standby.
- Identify a member of staff to take responsibility for heating, air conditioning and lighting controls
Workshops and trainings through the Carbon Trust and CIBSE
Still struggling to save money on your energy bills?
H&F Climate Alliance
Interested in how your business can help tackle climate change? The H&F Climate Alliance brings together organisations from across the borough to work on climate action together and learn from each other.
Find out more about how we can help you measure and reduce carbon emissions and meet likeminded organisations and enquire about joining the H&F Climate Alliance.
Free energy audit for your workplace
H&F have partnered with Fulham based business Advantage Utilities, to provide free energy efficiency advice to small businesses. Their audit service can help you switch to a cheaper tariff, get support for large and small energy efficiency improvements and more. Contact Sam Ridley email@example.com to find out more.
Visit our cost-of-living crisis page
Find out more about support and advice available for you and your employees.
Claim capital allowances for energy efficient equipment
External links for more energy saving information
- Energy Saving Trust – a guide to energy efficiency in the workplace
- The Carbon Trust - a range of tools, guides and reports to help your business or organisation achieve your sustainability goals
- Ofgem – energy advice for businesses
- British Gas – Energy saving tips for your home – tips are applicable to businesses
- Energy Technology List (ETL) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Department of Energy – Lighting Controls - subscribe to energy saver updates
- UK - SME Climate hub (businessclimatehub.org) - find out what other small businesses are doing to tackle climate change
The Carbon Trust guides and resources for businesses
The Carbon Trust has published a range of free guides and resources to help SMEs and start-ups tackle net zero, energy efficiency, and carbon reduction.
- Carbon footprinting
- Better business guide to energy saving
- Energy procurement and green tariffs
- Effective energy management for business
- How to be a good supplier
- Commissioning an energy efficiency project
- Warehousing and logistics
- Office based companies
- Retail sector
- Hospitality sector
- Green events
- Renewable energy sources
- Electric and smart vehicles
- Heat pumps
- Building fabric
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
- Energy storage
- Motors and drives