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Simple and inexpensive ways to go green

Simple and inexpensive ways to go green

Simple and inexpensive ways to go green

Most businesses are aware of the advantages of going green. They could benefit from lower overheads, improve their reputation among an increasingly knowledgeable and concerned public and, of course, help the planet save resources.

Just last week, BM TRADA - an international certification organisation - urged every company to make sustainability top of its agenda, arguing that energy efficiency was now a "necessity, not a nicety".

The good news is that green investments do not need to be expensive renewable projects or schemes that will drastically alter the way a business operates.

What initiatives are available?

Energy is one of the prime concerns of green agendas and it's a subject that chimes closely to the objectives of small and medium-sized businesses, as heating and electricity are major overheads on the balance sheet.

Simple improvements, such as insulating office buildings, could lead to savings of thousands of pounds on fuel bills. As both energy suppliers and the government wake up to the importance of green initiatives and their responsibility for ensuring the country meets ambitious carbon emission targets, there is increasing support available.

New funding sources have now been launched, with the Green Deal Finance Company chief among them. More commonly known for its work helping homeowners lower their bills, this is in fact a government-sponsored loan programme that is also available to communities and workplaces.

Companies can easily book an assessment and see if they can benefit from any improvements to their property.

There is also the option of the £550 million Energy Efficiency Financing scheme, which is run by Siemens Financial Services and the Carbon Trust. Businesses can use this to invest in cost-effective energy efficiency infrastructure and other low carbon technologies, such as new lighting and biomass heating. Businesses offset the cost of the new equipment against the energy savings they make.

Specifically for small businesses, the SmartEnergy Fund also offers commercial loans - typically between £25,000 and £250,000 - while the Renewable Heat Incentive is a government-run scheme which will pay small businesses for any renewable heat they generate.

Adopting a green ethos

Going green is not all about upgrades, however. There is a big benefit to be had from making small changes in the workplace.

Look at the supply chain - are all partners equally committed to the environment? Service providers such as office cleaners and caterers can be chosen on the basis of their green ethos, ensuring there are no embarrassing contradictions waiting to catch a newly focussed business out.

Sometimes, the simplest steps can be the most effective. Installing a smart meter will directly show business owners how much energy they use. These are effective due to their advanced accuracy and all UK energy suppliers will be obliged to provide business customers with smart meters by 2020, so that firms can see exactly how their operations use power on a daily basis.

Iain Walker from E.ON said: "There are many benefits of having a smart meter fitted; at the most basic level they help ensure your bills are accurate and up-to-date, sending meter readings directly to your supplier so you don't have to. This helps businesses manage their cashflow because they only pay for what they've used.

"At E.ON our customers can request a free energy monitor which together with the smart meter can help businesses get a better understanding of how they use energy. By acting on the increased knowledge they provide, this in turn could help identify ways to save energy and money on your bills."

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Thinkstock