It’s not difficult to find somebody significantly worried about how the energy crisis is set to impact them in 2022 and beyond. Many UK families, come October, will be attempting to put off switching the heat back on for fear that the cost of gas and electricity will have more than doubled. The energy price cap increased by a staggering 54% in April 2022 and continues to rise. Yet, whilst this will affect numerous UK households, from students and young working professionals to pensioners and families with young children, some business owners are facing the crisis both at home and at work.
For small and medium business owners, the energy crisis is poised to potentially double their running costs – an impact that could reduce their ability to make a profit. Usually, when running costs rise, businesses are forced to pass the added cost onto the customer, in some cases only to keep the business operational. However, with a country facing a cost of living crisis, passing these costs on may not be an option since many will simply not be able to absorb them.
Although businesses typically pay lower rates for utilities, usage tends to be higher. Apart from heating or cooling commercial premises, businesses also tend to be using more lights and power for technology and machinery. The energy crisis is therefore going to be a burden for many UK businesses in 2022. Even those smaller businesses whose employees and owners are working from home.
Here are a few ways small businesses can prepare for the energy crisis:
Naturally, using an energy procurement service comes at an initial cost. However, energy contracts can be difficult to decipher and estimating the best deal between the various options can be challenging. Businesses with commercial premises may consider using an energy procurement service to source the best contract for them, or at least to confirm that the one they are on is the most cost-effective. Whilst households are being advised not to switch or cancel existing fixed-rate contracts right now, commercial energy contracts work a little differently and a professional advisor may be able to offer insight to save you money on your energy bills. Furthermore, the relationships that these companies have with energy suppliers can mean they have access to more competitive rates, simply due to buying power (no pun intended).
Simple Ways For Businesses To Prepare For The Energy Crisis
There are some simple ways to save energy that may seem obvious but are still worth mentioning. For instance, many commercial premises leave lights on even when the business is closed. Although this may be considered good advertising or a deterrent from theft and vandalism, timers and dimmer switches could be used to save on energy usage during non-operational hours.
Swapping light bulbs for LEDs can also save on electricity and will help to reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, you’ll find you hardly ever need to change your bulbs.
Small changes in the office to save on energy can also make a big difference. Work practices and even office layout can also be rethought. For instance, check that your radiators or conditioning units are not being blocked by furniture or anything else that might decrease this effectiveness. Your office or commercial kitchen could probably be made more energy efficient by ensuring washing machines (including dishwashers and glasswashers) never get turned on until they are full. If you can afford the initial cost, instant hot water taps are also known to save as much as 50% energy compared to the traditional kettle, since employees will only be heating what they need for their brew. In commercial kitchens, it’s important to make sure equipment, including ovens and refrigeration units are regularly cleaned and that doors are shutting properly to ensure optimum performance and reduce waste energy.
Many of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint as a business will also help you reduce your energy bills. So consider going paperless, turning down the settings on equipment where possible and turning off electrical appliances at the switch when not in use.
As a small business, you’ll need to get your employees on board to help you in saving energy around the workplace. However, if there is one advantage of the global energy crisis it will be that everybody is aware of the very real and rising cost of energy and will likely already be applying these practices at home.
Do you run your business from home? During the energy crisis, it may be worth considering if hiring desk space or joining a coworking community might help reduce your business energy costs. Working somewhere where someone else is paying for heating and electricity may mean you can turn yours off at home during the daytime. Of course, there is a cost attached to these coworking spaces and there is always the chance that will increase if their running costs rise. However, there can be other benefits to working alongside other entrepreneurs and business owners. Many find it inspirational and motivational and it can be a productive networking opportunity too. With more and more of these spaces popping up in communities, it’s clear that plenty of people are finding the benefits outweigh the cost. Besides, it may be that you save enough on energy costs at home to make up the expense anyway.
Check In On Your Remote Employees
Just as many UK businesses are warming to the idea of remote working, remote workers are finding there’s a much higher cost to working from home than before. Whether your employees are working from the office or working remotely, it is your responsibility to ensure their working conditions are suitable. It is possible, that some employees working from home may find themselves under financial pressure which could lead them to consider turning off the heating in the colder months. Not only is this potentially dangerous for their health, but they will ultimately not be able to properly perform their role if they are unable to heat their home-based workspace or are worried about using electrical devices.
Having employees working remotely does not mean you can’t carry out a workplace assessment. This could be done via a questionnaire form given to the employee or even via video conferencing. Remote worker assessments can be carried out with Bureau Veritas or an HR Consultant may be able to assist you in preparing a risk assessment specifically for employees who work from home. You can use this assessment to check that heating and energy usage is not becoming a problem, especially for lower-paid employees.
The Best Way Small Businesses Can Prepare For The Energy Crisis
Above all, the best way your small business can prepare for the energy crisis is to keep up to date, both with the news and your usage. Monitoring your usage is more important now than before and it’s something that many businesses neglect to do since the focus is understandably on ways to make money rather than ways to save money. However, for small businesses, an astronomical energy bill could have a highly detrimental effect. Set up a calendar reminder to check in on your usage or to call your procurement company if your energy is managed externally.
Keeping up with the news at the moment will also be beneficial as new schemes to help businesses struggling with energy costs are likely to be launched over the next few months.
We’re also hoping we may get some insight into how long this crisis might last. On which note, another option worth serious consideration is greener energy. Solar energy is a clean low-cost energy source that can be harnessed through the installation of solar panels. Although most effective during hours of sunlight, solar power stores energy so that it may be distributed when required. Although in the UK most businesses will be able to rely entirely on solar energy yet, the amount of energy it will contribute to powering your business should make you significant savings on your energy bills. Heat source pumps may also be installed in commercial buildings to reduce waste and make your premises more energy efficient. Check out some of the government grants for heat source pumps.