Energy Budget Tight for Many Small Businesses

A new survey carried out by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has found that almost a third of it’s members said the cost of energy was a barrier to growth for their company.

Carried out across the 8,000 FSB members, the survey revealed that the cost of electricity, water and gas for their business remains a significant concern for owners. With little spare capital to invest in renewable energy solutions such as solar panels, it seems that as many corporations are able to make grandstand launches of energy efficiency measures (like Microsoft’s solar-powered offices or Google’s wind-turbine-fuelled data centres) smaller businesses are being left behind.

According to Mike Cherry, FSB national policy chairman, the options for smaller businesses are limited.

“Small firms do have the appetite to be more energy efficient, namely because of the obvious benefits to keeping the cost of doing business down. However, for firms to take on energy efficient measures in real numbers, they need the payback to be quick and the upfront costs to be small.

There has to be a tangible business benefit and a low risk to their investment. And the process has to be simple and clear” wrote Cherry in his column for The Guardian newspaper.

Some smaller companies have taken the Government up on the same ’Green Deal’ that has been offered to homeowners over the last two years, however, given the deal’s loan-structure, smaller businesses again cannot risk the added overhead in comparison to a lower energy cost that may or may not come years down the line.

The FSB’s findings also found that many smaller businesses feel they would benefit from the roll-out of Smart meters for their firm. Real-time energy monitoring devices, many business owners feel by having constant feedback, they’ll be better suited to managing their gas and electricity usage.

“Energy companies are committed to installing smart meters in all homes and businesses by 2019. However, this is all they are legally required to do.

To make this new technology worthwhile, energy companies must go further, providing ongoing support and advice to customers on energy use. The information gained from these meters must be clear and simple. The meters and their supporting services must also be interoperable between different energy firms, so switching is quick, easy and low cost for small businesses. The costs associated with smart meters or accessing their data must not be prohibitive for the smallest firms.” added Cherry.