Many businesses still not doing the basics on energy efficiency

12th April 2016


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  • Management/saving ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • General services ,
  • Manufacturing

Author

Matthew Powell-Howard

The most common recommendations to improve energy efficiency are for technologies that area already well understood by many businesses, according to the Carbon Trust.

The trust analysed a sample of audits it conducted for businesses needing to comply with the energy savings opportunity scheme (ESOS). It found that firms spent an average of £1.8 million a year on energy. The average energy saving achievable through cost-effective measures was around 20%, or £360,000 per company, the trust said.

A large number of the businesses audited by the trust were manufacturers. Although the largest proportion of their energy consumption was typically related to industrial processes, it found that potential savings tended to be in improving lighting, metering and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) plant control. The trust said average saving in these areas amounted to 23%.

Changes to lighting and HVAC systems also dominated energy saving recommendations for office-based businesses. Replacing traditional lighting technologies with LEDs was a very common suggestion and investment was generally found to pay back over two to five years, the trust found.

Construction companies spent most energy, with average annual costs of around £4.9 million, the audits revealed. Energy management, lighting, heating and metering were again common recommendations, with an average potential saving of 25%.

One area of ESOS that most businesses struggled with was assessing the energy used in transport. The trust found that most companies outside the transport and logistics sector were not effectively managing vehicle energy consumption, despite the fact that it accounted for 28% of overall energy costs on average.

Fleet audits carried out by the trust typically identified savings of around 15% on existing transport energy expenditure. The most frequent recommendations were for better vehicle procurement and replacement, taking into account the efficiency of a fleet or vehicles used for business travel but not owned by the company.

The trust also provided a large number of recommendations to improve company strategy, policy and training programmes to help monitor and reduce vehicle mileage and fuel consumption.

Overall, the organisation said that many of the companies it supported were new to energy management, indicating that the ESOS regulations had cast a wider net than some other schemes by forcing businesses to understand their energy use rather than just encouraging better management through higher costs.

It hopes that the scheme will have a bigger impact than that originally suggested by the energy and climate change department (Decc), which estimated that it could collectively save businesses £250 million if a 5% reduction in energy use was achieved.

However, the real proof of success will be in rates of implementation of recommendations, since this is not required by the regulation, it added.

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