Get a free smart meter and free access to British Gas's Business Energy Insight dashboard
Get a free smart meter and free access to the Business Energy Insight online dashboard with British Gas Business.
Is it time to upgrade that old electricity meter? Image by awoodvine via Flickr
We have a special offer from British Gas Business - when you switch your business electricity via uSwitchforBusiness you can get a free smart meter and free access to the Business Energy Insight online dashboard. We estimate that the smart meter would usually cost £300, and access to the dashboard would be around £500 a year, so this deal can give you a great saving.
The smart meter and dashboard themselves can help you save money too; with the dashboard you’ll have access to lots of data about your electricity usage, so you can identify areas where you’re wasting energy and ways to cut back. Plus, with a smart meter, you’ll only ever pay for the energy you actually use, which can really help your cashflow. (Find out more about smart meters.) You also get a dedicated account manager who can provide you with advice about energy efficiency.
If you’re interested, or want to find out more about his deal and whether or not it’s right for your business, give our energy advisors a call on 0800 688 8568.
For more information on smart meters visit our partner company Business Juice.
Engage your employees and save £6000 on your bill, says the Carbon Trust
A new tool which helps engage your employees in energy efficiency could save you 15% or £6000 on your business energy bill, according to the Carbon Trust.
With a new online tool called Carbon Trust Empower, an individual employee could cut 220kg CO2 a year - for larger businesses, the Carbon Trust estimates that this could lead to savings of as much as £150,000 a year.
Carbon Trust Empower lets employees explore different ways of saving energy, whether at their desk, at the printer, in reception, the kitchen, the corridors and even the toilets.
It creates and tracks personal action plans, and enables office managers to view their employees’ individual energy savings.
Richard Rugg, Director of Carbon Trust Programmes, said: “Companies often struggle to harness the huge energy savings that an effectively engaged workforce can help deliver. Part of the problem employers face is making actions practical, fun and sustained. By creating a virtual tour entirely from an employee’s viewpoint, every aspect of Empower has been designed with the end-user in mind. Employees are a critical ally in cutting energy waste. Get them onboard and reap the rewards in lower bills and reduced carbon emissions.”
Whitbread and Oxford City Council have already signed their staff up to the scheme.
Chris George, Head of Energy & Environment at Whitbread, commented: “Whitbread has a clear target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% by 2020. To get there we have embedded sustainability into the heart of our business and we are working closely with our teams and business partners to reduce energy and water consumption. We believe that Empower is a strong learning platform which will help our teams to understand how we can work together to reduce energy consumption within our portfolio of buildings in the UK. It is a straightforward and user-friendly tool, which is easily accessible online and may lead to tonnes of CO2 emissions being saved across our business. It also demonstrates that as we save energy, we also save money, bringing real commercial benefits to the bottom line.”
Meanwhile Paul Robinson, Team Leader, Energy and Climate Change at Oxford City Council, said: "Oxford City Council is committed to tackling climate change, and engaging and empowering employees is a critical way for us to make significant carbon and financial savings. The new Empower tool is great fun to use and we intend to roll this out to all our staff in the near future as part of our commitment to reduce our operational carbon emissions by 28% by the end of March 2012, relative to the 05/06 baseline emissions. We will also encourage our Low Carbon Oxford partners to use it with their staff too."
Turning back the clocks – is it really the way forward?
Today, Business Advisor Risha Premarajah writes about the impact of Daylight Savings Time on businesses as the government moves one step closer to reviewing the potential impacts of turning the clocks back.
Now we have adjusted to the dark nights and cold mornings, the shift to winter patterns and increases energy consumption, the risk of accidents and the numerous inconveniences that the changing hour and the dark nights of winter bring, we can ask ourselves: Does daylight saving time actually save us anything?
When the clocks went back signalling that winter had finally arrived, I was looking forward to that extra hours’ sleep and to not having to wake up for work in the dark, but realised that the positives of this daylight saving act are relatively short lived. Winter in general, costs us more.
As we know from our school science days, the sun gives us two types of energy - heat and light - and we have to replace these (at our own expense) when it sets, leaving us in the cold and dark. We cannot change how much daylight we receive… but, with a little clock fiddling, we can change when we receive it. As summer spoils us with such an abundance of daylight, everyone is happy. Winter is more problematic as we are faced with a season that simply doesn't provide enough hours of light to shine from the morning to the evening. So what do we do?
For a start, the cold weather means that we turn on and crank up the central heating without a thought for the cost – you just want to be warm right? And then there’s the issue of light. Darkness falls around 4:30pm on the darker days compared with as late as 9pm in summer, and so increases the use of artificial lighting, leading to inevitably higher consumption and higher bills.
Winter is undoubtedly a trying time for everyone. For me, waking up to sunlight on my retinas (however faint) is a plus and keeps us in tune with our natural, diurnal rhythms that maintain our body clocks. It could even be a help in warding off the comically titled but potentially devastating affliction, S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). If we are resigned to travelling home and spending the evening in darkness, so be it. Once home, we can always take comfort in a hot mug of tea, a warm duvet and a (responsible!) blast of central heating. We can cosy up and forget about the world outside.
But what does it mean for businesses who have to keep going throughout the winter period without the luxuries of domestic diversions? Increased costs can be a real strain for business budgets and keeping the workforce comfortable to maintain productivity comes with the associated expense. So is this daylight saving really the way forward in an economically tough climate where energy efficiency and saving resources are hot topics?
Daylight saving is something so routine that I’ve never stopped to think why we have it at all. Getting my head around whether we ‘lose’ or ‘gain’ an hour has always proved too much for my mind and outweighed the need for any further bamboozlement. But what is Daylight Saving Time and why do we do it?
During the latter half of the year, the earth tilts slightly on its axis so that the Northern Hemisphere is angled further away from the sun, while the Southern Hemisphere becomes closer. The sun is lower in the sky and begins to set earlier, so that in winter, the evening and night hours can be as long as 19 hours in some places.
Daylight Savings Time or DST is the practice of putting the clocks forward during summer so that the evenings have more daylight. The way I like to think about it is, in reality the working day gets moved up in time, with everyone waking up an hour earlier and sleeping an hour earlier. In summer, this is more in keeping with the time the sun actually rises and sets, and thereby maximises the number of sunlit hours we receive. DST was first implemented in 1916 and with the exception of a few experimental years here and there, has been the norm ever since. The clocks go forward in the first week of March and return back to Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT) in the last week of October.
Unlike winter, the advantages of summer DST are bountiful. There is the obvious gain of finishing work with many hours of sunshine left to enjoy, and there is evidence of fewer traffic accidents during the hours when there is natural light illuminating our roads. One other great benefit of DST is the reduction in electricity consumed as people need to turn on the lights for at least one less hour per day, and with so many people doing the same, has the cumulative effect of saving significant amounts of energy and reducing carbon emissions.
Getting the same effects in winter is much harder to achieve, but there are ways to cut costs and lower consumption. It is a time when we take for granted heating and lighting and flick the switches rather than reaching for an extra jumper.
But, both homes and businesses alike can become more energy efficient by ensuring that you have the best deal for your energy. In both arenas, prices always start to rise as winter begins, leaving us out of pocket by the time it’s ready to change the hour again! Check your rates and see if you can switch your energy to get a better deal.
For business users, it is a time to not only check your rates, but check your contract end date to see when you are able to start negotiating your new prices. The service offered by uSwitch for Business can help you get the most out of your business energy contracts and help you to find the best deal to suit your business needs. They can also offer tariffs with Smart meters to help you to identify periods of heavy usage so that you can rethink your output, and advise you when you can switch.
With limited daylight available, use this to its maximum where possible so that you are only doing activities that need artificial lighting for a minimum period. Rethink your heating methods – are you using costly electric heaters, rather than investing in more cost effective means? Various companies provide energy reviews and can advise you where you can really make savings with regards to insulation, metering, output and general energy saving measures such as automatic switches, energy monitors and draft excluders. When the hour changes, we need to be prepared and employ methods to counteract its effects, however, this is often met with additional costs and a certain amount of effort, which can be hard to find, especially when running a business in today’s climate.
by Risha Premarajah,
Business advisor, uSwitch for business
- Daylight-saving time in Japan: Bright idea (economist.com)
- The draft Energy Bill: a five-minute summary
- 60% increase in business energy costs as average turnover falls by 6%
- Business week in brief: 11th May 2012
- Ed Miliband and the Queen talk energy
- Interview with Steve Fitzsimons of new business energy supplier, Hudson Energy
- Business week in brief: 4th May 2012
- The see saw of corporate profit
- Business week in brief: 27th April 2012
- EDF Energy’s Business Customer Commitments: four key pledges
- Businesses buck the trend when it comes to smaller energy suppliers