Brighter business / 6 ways small businesses are going green while saving money

6 ways small businesses are going green while saving money

22nd June 2020

For business owners, managing your energy consumption is no longer just about keeping tabs on your outgoings – it’s a prerequisite for doing business. As consumers become more aware of businesses environmental responsibilities, companies that aren’t seen to be environmentally responsible face losing customers, while those further up the supply chain are now being asked to prove their green credentials.

Sustainability should be at the top of the agenda across every industry, and companies are becoming increasingly bold in how they communicate this to customers and stakeholders.

For most business owners, however, it needn’t be that complicated. One of the simplest ways to reduce your impact on the planet and improve your bottom line is by switching to renewable energy and being smart with the energy you use.

Small changes that add up in the workplace

Implementing more sustainable practices into your business needn’t break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of small steps you can take that have long-term impacts. For example, did you know that turning the office heating down by 1°C you can reduce your annual heating bill by up to 8%? So, if your business spends £500 a month on energy, that small turn of the dial would save you £480 each year – the equivalent of one month’s energy.

Small savings such as this can be made right across your business. Take electricity costs for lighting as another example: leaving the lights on in the meeting room never seems like a big deal – but, by using motion sensitive lighting you could save enough energy to make up to 300 cups of tea. Similarly, using energy-efficient lighting can save businesses up to £1,500 a year.

It could also be beneficial to implement a company-wide switch off policy. While it may seem trivial, leaving 50 computers on overnight for a year would create enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus – and cost your business £1.76 a day.

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Company cars: Choose the right vehicle

While a lot has been said about leveraging the benefits of car-pooling and subscription-based mobility services, the use of cars for some companies is unavoidable. If your business offers company cars to your employees, it pays to ask yourself the right questions when deciding on what type of vehicles to go for. Consider how long your drivers will be on the road for, and what distances they’ll be covering. Will they be driving where Clean Air Zones are in place, and if they were driving an electric vehicle, would they have access to charging points? Asking these questions before deciding on your fleet is key in saving money and reducing emissions.

It’s also crucial that you look at the whole life costs when choosing a vehicle. It’s easy to focus on the headline sticker price – this is often the case when looking at EVs which in the past have carried a heftier price tag - but there are many other costs involved, from taxes and insurance to fuel and vehicle depreciation. So, when you add all of these up, you might find that switching to an EV fleet isn’t as expensive as you first thought.

What’s more, with EVs becoming increasingly affordable, there’s never been a better time to make the switch. They offer two solutions at once: reducing exhaust-related emissions and reducing the use of fossil-derived fuels. By switching your business-use vehicles to EVs, you can make a drastic cut to your carbon footprint.

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Be savvy: Use a smart meter

The UK Government estimates that installing energy efficiency measures could reduce the energy costs for SMEs by between 18% and 25%. One example of this is the smart meter, which gives business owners access to vast quantities of real-time data-related insights into how and where they use their energy. This transparency allows businesses to be smarter and more energy efficient with their energy usage, providing an easy way to be more sustainable.

Smart meters are also the backbone of the Smart Grid, which will play a significant role in the UK Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. For companies looking to be proactive in their efforts to cut their carbon footprint and play their part, the smart meter is a savvy move.

Think long term – go renewable

When it comes to saving money through sustainable practices, it’s crucial that we think long-term, rather than simply thinking about the immediate gains. The change associated with moving towards sustainability can often be a deterrent for business owners, as there is a perception that these come at a large cost. But this isn’t always the case – the majority of business energy suppliers now offer renewable energy as standard.

With our product, Opus Advance, customers get 100% renewable power sourced from generators in the UK and Europe. Not only will you be receiving renewable energy as standard, but you can promote your organisation’s commitment to sustainability through responsible sourcing and purchasing of renewable energy with our certificates and digital tools.

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Invest in renewable generation

If you’ve already switched your energy supply to a more environmentally friendly tariff or provider, why not investigate generating your own renewable power? If you’re able to, installing solar panels are a cost-effective way of ensuring the energy your office or building uses is completely renewable.

Not only does this switch to generating your own renewable energy reduce your environmental impact and contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation, but it’s also a way for your business to diversify, by bringing in a new stream of revenue. If done right, it can be low effort, high impact and great for the environment.

Look at the source: your supply chain

Finally, can you go back to the source? The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) each have underlying targets surrounding the importance of conducting business with sustainability in mind.

Looking at your supply chain with these goals in mind doesn’t necessarily mean extreme changes – it can be as simple as considering your packaging options. Goal 12 of the UN’s SDGs aims to “ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns”. As a business, are you encouraging sustainable production and consumption patterns by reducing unnecessary packaging and opting for recyclable alternatives?

By taking a step back and improving the environmental performance throughout your supply chain, you can save resources, optimise processes, promote your corporate social responsibility, all whilst improving your sustainability and saving costs.

Every business is different, but by taking inspiration from the tips above and combining this with your own research, you should be able to find ways that work for you and your budget.

To find out how Opus Energy can support your business with its green credentials, get in touch below.

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