The UK-wide rollout of smart meters will save small businesses £2.2 billion by 2030 and cut carbon emissions by 16 million tonnes, say economists
New research from consultants Oxford Economics reveals that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will save billions in energy costs by having access to accurate data on how much electricity and gas they use.
The study, commissioned by British Gas, predicts that the government’s plans to ensure that by 2019 every home and businesses has a smart meter, will result in SMEs cutting annual energy consumption by 4%–5% as they become more aware of their energy consumption, saving, on average, £230 a year.
Firms that use the data to take a pro-active approach to energy efficiency, by installing more efficient lighting or equipment, for example, will see savings jump to 7%–15%, reducing annual bills by up to £800, according to the report.
It states that, by 2030, reductions in energy demand will mean smart meters will have saved businesses a total of £2.2 billion in energy costs, and prevented 16 million tonnes of carbon being emitted.
“Smart meters will fundamentally change the way businesses manage their energy,” said Angela Needle, head of energy consultancy at British Gas Business. “They will put businesses in control of their energy costs and help them identify steps they can take to reduce their energy bills at a time when controlling costs is a priority for many small businesses.”
Robert Purcell, owner of Barnstaple Bakery, which has cut energy bills by 12% since installing a smart meter or smart meters, said: “We have completely changed our approach to managing our energy use. By looking at our actual energy consumption on a daily basis we’ve identified energy saving measures, such as changing our lighting, replacing some of our old energy intensive appliances and being far more vigilant in turning ovens off when we’re not using them.”
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that the national rollout of smart meters will only help SMEs if they have free access to the data collected. Unlike the government’s plans for households, which require meters to display energy consumption data, meters in commercial properties do not have to include such a display.
“Under the current proposals, small businesses could face paying to access their energy consumption data,” states a new FSB report. “This will seriously undermine the credibility of the programme as well as limit its potential economic and environmental benefits. Smart meters in themselves do not save any energy – it is how the data is used that leads to savings.”