Short briefs on small and medium-sized companies

This week there were two good articles on SMEs and energy efficiency in the UK. The first is by Ben Lobel for the smallbusiness website. The second is by Lucinda Borrell for the smeweb website in the UK.

 

• SMEs mindful of environment in energy efficiency drive

Small businesses are placing the environment on the same level as cost savings when it comes to energy efficiency

Small company owners are actively seeking to improve energy efficiency in their business, and not just for cost reasons.

Nine in ten small companies seek to be more energy efficient in their own business, according to a study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Some 78 per cent list cost savings as a motivator, but 70 per cent say protecting the environment is an important motivator for action.

A quarter highlight improved energy efficiency as a way to attract customers and help promote their business.

Smart meters will be a vital tool for giving small businesses the information they need to make the right decisions on energy use, says the FSB.

The lobbying group has called for the hardware roll out to be supported by an ongoing package of information and support from energy companies.

FSB national chairman John Allan says, ‘Small businesses are really enthusiastic about energy efficiency and this desire should be capitalised on for the good of their business and the environment. However, what our research does tell us is a simple ‘one-size fits all’ approach will not work as different businesses are driven by a diverse range of factors.’

Looking at the action taken by small businesses, three fifths of small businesses (58 per cent) say they have already taken small steps towards energy efficiency, such as installing energy efficient lighting and equipment.

However, many say they were prevented from going further by a number of obstacles which include: not owning the premises where they operate (45 per cent), a poor understanding of the options available (20 per cent), and a lack of capital to invest (29 per cent).

Timely return on investment is also seen as an important issue. Well over half of those surveyed (55 per cent) say they would require a return on their investment within two years, with two fifths (39 per cent) saying they would require a return within one year.

Two in three (60 per cent) small firms suggest that enhanced tax relief would encourage them to become more energy efficient but many are not aware of support already available or find it hard to navigate.

Small businesses also give their backing to energy companies providing more support on how to consume less energy. Longer energy contracts in return for improved support and advice from energy suppliers are broadly supported by nine in ten (89 per cent) of the companies questioned.

Allan adds, ‘The energy market will continue to fail small firms until it can help businesses reduce their energy consumption, as well as their underlying unit costs.

‘There are several initiatives in place to help businesses become energy efficient, including the Green Deal. But government and energy companies need to do more to understand the different circumstances and motivations of small businesses to help promote further action on energy efficiency.’

 

Money is only one factor in energy efficiency

Nine out of ten businesses are seeking to be more energy efficient despite the cost.

According to research by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) there is overwhelming support for energy efficiency with 78% listing saving energy costs as a motivating factor for carrying out energy efficiency measures.

A further 70% said that saving the environment was also a strong factor in deciding on energy policies within business.

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small businesses are really enthusiastic about energy efficiency and this desire should be capitalised on for the good of their business and the environment.

“However, what our research does tell us is a simple ‘one-size fits all’ approach will not work as different businesses are driven by a diverse range of factors.”

Three fifths of small business have already taken steps towards energy efficiency through the installation of equipment and lighting with many businesses facing obstacles to do more.

Lack of capital to invest was the reason cited by 29% of businesses as a barrier to energy efficiency with 45% finding non-ownership of business properties a barrier.

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