In a new survey of over 2,100 businesses, 55% said the most important item on their energy efficiency wish list was financial help from the government to install energy efficiency measures.
The Energy Investment/Savings Seesaw
The survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and British Gas gathered responses from over 2,100 businesses of all sectors and sizes in England and Wales, although 91% of survey respondents (were SMEs with 1-199 employees.
The survey indicated that businesses are keen to reduce energy costs and increase energy efficiency – but are concerned that it’s not financially viable for them to invest in order to do so.
Barriers to Energy Efficiency
27% of businesses who rent their premises said that they have no influence on energy efficiency improvements.
“Commercial landlords also need to do more, to support leaseholders and renters who are looking to save money and make their energy use work for them,” commented Mike Spicer, Director of Research and Economics at the BCC.
Gab Barbaro, Managing Director of British Gas Business, agreed. “It’s clear from this research that businesses in rented and leased premises need more help from their commercial landlords, and new regulations to tackle the least energy-efficient premises can’t come soon enough.”
When asked what is preventing their business from investing in energy efficiency measures, 23% of the largest firms said that other investments were taking priority, compared with 13% overall, and 15% of businesses were concerned that the potential savings would not be worth the investment costs.
However, energy efficiency and cost is a continuing concern, with as over a third of businesses (35%) stating their energy costs had risen over the last three years, compared to 37% who reported little or no change and 13% who reported a decrease. So how do businesses feel the government can help?
Financial Aid from Government Would Be Biggest Help, Say Majority
When respondents were asked what the government could do for businesses, 55% said that financial aid from the government to install energy efficiency measures was most important – either via grants (36%) or tax breaks (19%).
Only 8% felt that more information would help them, while 6% felt that ensuring the wider use of smart meters, enabling them to monitor their energy usage more closely, was the most important thing government and suppliers could do for them.
Mike Spicer said, “These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up. At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.”
So what immediate steps can businesses take?
“I’d urge all businesses to seek help from their supplier or landlord, and start with the basics,” recommends Gab Barbaro. “For example, by applying for a smart meter, businesses could much more accurately work out what’s driving their energy use and make considered decisions about how to reduce it.”