Brighter business / Direct debits and data: 6 simple switches to save carbon in your business

Direct debits and data: 6 simple switches to save carbon in your business

17th November 2020

As we head into the final stretch of the year, many businesses will be planning for the 12 months ahead.

Sustainability will continue to be a focus for businesses next year and beyond, so getting ahead of the curve now is more important than ever - particularly so since COVID caused sustainability to move up the agenda for many businesses.

We’ve compiled some simple, surprising steps that you can take to reduce the environmental impact of your business.

Send fewer emails

Emails, surprisingly, come with a significant environmental cost attached to them.

The data centres which help to power almost all internet traffic are responsible for around 1% of global energy use, estimated at 200 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2018.

In 2019, an estimated 64m unnecessary emails were sent in the UK each day, amounting to 16,433 tonnes of C02. To reduce your carbon footprint, think before you hit send. It’s better for the planet to say some things face to face, or over the phone.

The cost of computing

What’s true for emails is true of any other cloud-based activity. If your businesses relies on cloud storage or server-based activities, there’s likely to be an energy-intensive data centre somewhere, contributing carbon to the atmosphere.

Choosing a provider whose data centres are powered by renewable energy can help you to take control of the associated emissions of your IT activities; Google is working towards that goal.

Switch to direct debit

Paying your bills by Direct Debit is convenient, and a recent study has also found that it’s the most environmentally friendly method, too.

The study found that Direct Debit payments have lower associated carbon emissions than cheque payments.

Direct Debits with paper billing have a carbon footprint of 73.36g of CO2 per year, compared to 591.36g for cheques. With paperless billing, Direct Debits drop down to just 35.51g of C02 per year; another summary estimates carbon reductions of between 66-99% compared to paper billing.

As well as being good for the planet, Direct Debit is good for your bank balance, too. If you don't currently pay by Direct Debit as an Opus Energy customer, your rates will have a 7.5% uplift applied. If you switch to Direct Debit, this 7.5% uplift will be removed - saving you money. Login to your My Opus Energy account now to set up your Direct Debit.

If you don’t have access to My Opus Energy yet, you can sign up for an account here.

Log into My Opus Energy

The carbon case for remote working

Commuting hasn’t been a concern for many people this year, but as the nation gradually returns to the workplace, transport - and its carbon footprint - will come back into focus.

Your carbon footprint can be broken down into three “scopes” according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Scope 1 emissions are directly related to your business activity, while Scopes 2 and 3 are indirect, and come from sources upstream or downstream of your activities.

Business travel and employee commuting falls under Scope 3 emissions, but 2020 has given us a solution to this: remote working. Introducing remote working, even for just one day a week, could reduce emissions by as much as 20%.

Improve your energy efficiency

By using less energy and only using it when it’s needed, businesses of all sizes can save money while doing their bit to protect the planet.

Many energy efficiency measures are free or cheap to implement. Raising staff awareness is an easy place to start; you can find out more about energy efficiency here.

Smart meters can help you to better understand your energy use, giving you detailed information on your energy consumption and its cost in real time. Understanding these insights may help you to make changes to your energy use, and there are no up-front or installation costs for a smart meter.

Finally, you can upgrade equipment, investing in more modern and efficient appliances or lighting. Through our exclusive partnership with Goodlight, Opus Energy customers can get up to 50% off LED lighting products. You can find out more about this exclusive discount here.

Technological lifecycles

The lifecycle of a computer or monitor is rarely at the top of your thoughts, but all items have a definitive lifespan and will likely be disposed of at some point.

Goods will also have to travel to you. Think again about those Scope 2 and 3 emissions; choose providers that are closer to your workplace so that associated emissions in travel are reduced. Fewer miles travelled means greater (indirect) carbon savings.

When choosing between comparable equipment with different lifespans, try to choose the one with the best energy efficiency performance and the longer-lasting option. This will likely amount to fewer carbon emissions over its lifecycle.

When it comes to disposal, choose the most environmentally friendly option. Computers and phones could be donated to schools (provided data has been securely removed and can’t be recovered). Where donation isn’t an option, choose a disposal company that has robust sustainability credentials.

Cutting down your hidden carbon costs by taking small, simple steps is one of the ways that businesses can become more sustainable. To find out more about how to become sustainable, download our free guide here.

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