Research consistently shows that young companies are striking up in business with a green mind-set; yet for those who are outside of co-working spaces, and are instead inside of freezing sole offices and workspaces, the challenge of staying green during the coldest of winters can quickly become impossible. With this imposing challenge in mind here we take a look at how startups can begin, and stay, green throughout the year – for decreased CO2, as well as decreased energy bills.
CO2: Sobering insight into the need for business eco efforts
CO2 has long since served as a political hot potato and over the course of two decades government after government have put into place ever more stringent measures for driving down commercially created CO2. To put these efforts into perspective, consider this: 90 companies have, since the industrial age, contributed to more than two-thirds of manmade global warming emissions (The Guardian); and whilst today commercial CO2 emissions are at an all-time low, they still represent 70 million tonnes per year (which compares to 110 million tonnes as of 2000 [Statista 2016]).
Business green grants
Due to the ongoing task of driving down commercial energy consumption the Government have committed significant levels of funding to the cause, which may represent viable options for startups; these include the £3 billion Green Investment Bank, the £2.6 billion Regional Growth Fund and the private sector operated Green Deal Finance Company.
Average energy use and cost – all in cold, hard figures
Whilst we can state the case for being green for the sake of the planet, it’s typically of equal concern for a startup that energy use continues to rise in impact to the bottom line. Understanding usage – and the costs associated with it, is essential for driving down both usage, and energy bills.
Annual business energy consumption
|Business Size||Electricity (Low kWh)||Electricty (High kWh)||Gas (Low kWh)||Gas (High kWh)|
The figures above provide an overview of usage – but how do these translate into pence and pounds?
Annual business energy costs
|Business Size||Electricity – average price||Gas – average price|
These figures demonstrate that there are equally as many reasons for going green to cut costs as there are for caring for the planet; yet beyond reducing energy bills, it seems that there’s business impetus to reduce CO2 output, as consumers overwhelmingly consider green companies and products favourably (BCG 2016).
Cutting down the cost of the colder months
1. Review your supplier
Before you even begin to consider efforts to cut down on your energy usage, you should first review your energy supplier; typically businesses find that they can save up to £1150 each year when they use a comparison site to review their supplier (uSwitch 2016).
2. Undertake an energy audit
Energy audits have three aims:
- To discover how energy is used throughout the business
- To identify wasteful energy use
- To establish opportunities for savings
The Carbon Trust have created a dedicated guide for undertaking energy audits: Better business guide to energy saving.
3. Follow these simple tips to drive down your lighting costs
The following simple tips form the basis of good energy usage– although the biggest challenge you may face is ensuring that staff stick to good practice when it can easily become forgotten.
- Ensure that lights in empty rooms and corridors are turned off;
- Establish a night-time lighting policy to use only minimal lighting;
- Ensure that windows and skylights are clean all year round – for using the few hours of natural daylight throughout working winter days;
- Ensure that light fittings are kept clean and use energy efficient bulbs;
- Switch off any equipment that isn’t in use;
- Ensure that all PCs are turned off overnight.
4. Follow these simple tips to drive down your heating costs
- Be sure not to heat the office up too much – typically workplaces should be around 16°C – although 19°C has been found to be more comfortable;
- Turn off heating in areas that aren’t in use;
- Ensure that radiators have space around them as furniture can block heat;
- Keep heating to a minimum over the weekend and during holidays;
- Ensure that thermostats are in places free from draughts – this ensures you get an accurate insight as to the current temperature;
- Draft proof the windows and doors throughout your building;
- Ensure that your heating system is well maintained (poorly maintained systems can add as much as 10% to your business electricity bill).
5. Prepare for the potential of a Smart Meter
Smart Meters are soon going to be providing the detailed insight into how energy is being used in your business. By 2020, every microbusiness in the UK should be signed up for the Smart Meter, Government led scheme.