Energy advice to SMEs in Coventry and Warwickshire

Small and medium sized businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire have been urged to review their energy use to cut their costs and become more environmentally friendly.

The SME Business Group of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) heard from Keith Budden, chair of the LEP’s Energy Business Group, about the different measures which can be introduced to reduce usage, improve carbon footprint and lower bills.

Keith told the group, which is made-up of SMEs from all sectors across the area, to look at their bills for gas, electric and waste disposal.

He said: “There are various steps which can be introduced for either little or no cost which could lead to significant savings.

“It is important to monitor your energy consumption – perhaps through an energy monitor or an online tracking system – and to let your supplier know your exact reading so you are only paying for what you have used.

“You could take it one step further by requesting a smart meter from your energy supplier to end estimated bills forever. There’s the added benefit that you can see real-time information to help you understand how much energy you are using.

“It is also important to check when your current energy contract is coming to an end to prevent it automatically rolling over. Ofgem is requiring energy companies to stop doing this, but it is wise to check. When you are due to renew shop around for a better deal and contact energy companies directly, don’t just use a broker, as suppliers are often a great source of help and information.

“Another good idea is to fit more efficient, energy-saving products such as LED lighting in high usage areas or more modern heating controls so that you can control the heating and use no more than you need.”

He advised SMEs to contact the ECO Business project, led by Coventry University Enterprises and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, for advice and information on the funding available to implement energy efficiency measures.

He said: “The ECO Business West Midlands team can help with accessing a range of grants for capital expenditure and advice from consultants.

“They can help with introducing the environmental management systems needed to reach ISO standards, supporting feasibility studies, design, building infrastructure and equipment, and easing compliance and providing support in waste management.

“There is a raft of support and funding available for SMEs – but it is often a case of knowing where to look to find out more information.”

Amrik Bhabra, chairman of the LEP’s SMEs Business Group, said the presentation had been interesting and thought-provoking.
“The energy measures which SMEs can introduce can not only make a business more environmentally friendly and competitive but have the added advantage of reducing bills,” he said.

“Energy is a high cost particularly for SMEs in retail and manufacturing and by working with our colleagues from the Energy Business Group, we hope we can encourage Coventry and Warwickshire businesses to look at their usage and whether they can introduce renewable energy measures which have the added bonus of lowering their costs.”