Save your energy for a green winter

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Smart meters are an easy way for businesses to understand how much energy they're using and to identify ways to reduce their consumption, explains Smart Energy GB

Environmental sustainability is becoming standard practice for many small businesses, and many are becoming more profitable as a result - that's because when physical waste is reduced or energy efficiency is increased, it can often lead to cost savings.

LED lights are a great example - they can make a huge difference in terms of environmental impact, but they will also lower a businesses' energy expenditure and last much longer than traditional lights.

Energy use has traditionally, however, been a tricky area for small businesses to have oversight of - not only is it difficult to gauge what they are using and spending, but it is also hard to understand the difference, both financially and environmentally, that their energy efficiency actions are making.

The good news is that there is an easy way for many businesses to understand how much energy they're using and to identify ways to reduce their consumption - smart meters.

Smart meters are replacing traditional analogue energy meters throughout Britain, and are available for many small businesses. These clever devices help small businesses to keep better track of their energy use and give them the information they need to reduce their consumption. This in turn enables them to cut back on unnecessary use, thus helping their bottom line and the environment - in fact, 44 per cent of small business owners who have had one installed say it has highlighted areas of spending they weren't aware of.

If you are eligible and if your energy supplier is ready to fit your smart meter, they will arrange a date and time that is suitable for you and your business requirements. A trained installer from your energy supplier will call round to your premises and fit your smart meter, and after the installation process is complete, the installer can show you and your staff how your smart meter works and answer any questions.

Take one small step towards a greener Christmas today, by asking your energy supplier if you are eligible for a smart meter. More information is available at www.smartenergygb.org.

Case study: Amaryllis Hair Salon, Cardiff

Credit: Smart Energy GB

Tiffany Hall and Rebecca Ryce are the co-owners of Amaryllis, an eco-friendly salon based in Cardiff with six employees. They recently had a smart meter installed by their energy supplier to help save money and make their business even more sustainable.

We strongly believe in looking after the planet for the next generation, so it's hugely important to us that our salon is as eco-friendly as possible. We offer fully sustainable hair care products, all our bags and stationary are recycled, our coffee and chocolates are locally sourced and we use biodegradable towels. We even offer a hair recycling service now, sending it to the Green Salon Collective who ensure that it is used to either help adsorb oil from our waterways, be added into gardeners composting mixes, or if it's long enough, be donated to wig making charities.

We're always aware, however, that there is more we could be doing, so a while ago we invited an energy advisor come to the salon. Several of the tips she gave us were very simple to do, and we were particularly interested to hear about the benefits that a smart meter could bring to our business, both in terms of sustainability and cost cutting.

We had already made a number of energy saving measures to the business, including fitting a condensing boiler and ensuring all the lights were LEDs, but despite this we sometimes struggled to keep track of how much energy we were using or which equipment and activities were causing unnecessary waste and additional costs. 

All that changed when we had the smart meter fitted. It was very easy to arrange and the installation itself was quick and simple. We were instantly provided with near real-time access to our energy use and costs, which has made it much easier to identify what is using the most energy, at what times, and to take actions to cut down.

It has also been a very useful tool to help our staff manage our salon's energy use. Now that they are able to see how much energy each appliance uses and how much it costs in pounds and pence, they are more aware of taking steps like turning the water boiler off or unplugging electrical items from sockets at the end of the day. As well as being better for the environment, this has undoubtedly saved us a lot of money over time, as we are not needlessly paying for energy to run items that are not in use.

The smart meter has also been really helpful in terms of budgeting, for example during lockdown the business used a lot less energy. Having access to our energy data enabled us to track exactly how much money we were saving and amend the budgets accordingly. 

Ultimately, knowledge is power when it comes to saving energy. It can be hard for small business owners to know where to start when they want to cut their energy use and costs - especially when they can't see how much they're using and at what times. With a smart meter you will get accurate bills, no more estimates, and the visibility you need to make changes to the way you use energy.

Credit: Smart Energy GB

This article was sponsored by Smart Energy GB

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