Steve Gardner, Managing Director, EcolightingUK
The onset of COVID-19 has impacted businesses in ways never experienced before. From grappling with remote working to rolling out company-wide testing measures, businesses have had to adopt immediate agility in order to overcome the various challenges presented by the pandemic.
In the midst of these unprecedented obstacles, the UK economy is currently experiencing a 9.7% drop compared to pre-pandemic levels. Businesses have undoubtedly been hard hit by the virus, but a recent article found that some companies could be set to pay over £1million in unused electricity while closed due to lockdown measures.
With new restrictions that mirror the strict lockdown in March 2020 recently implemented by the UK Government, the issue of unused electricity leading to substantial bills could become an added concern for businesses that are already struggling.
Businesses aren’t always aware of the types of energy-saving solutions available to them, and are missing out on systems and grants that could help to significantly reduce the financial cost and environmental impact that is contributed to by a rise in unused electricity. From government schemes to just choosing the right solution for a building, help is available to get businesses on the road to the UK’s net zero target as well as ensuring no extra money is being spent on electricity bills.
With lockdown measures becoming a staple for most businesses over the last 12 months, many companies have spent a lot of time not trading, with a high percentage of these having to close abruptly during the first lockdown resulting in them not being given the opportunity to review their current energy contracts. There are many outdated usage agreements with energy suppliers still being used by thousands of companies which are charging businesses for their estimated use of electricity based on meter readings, previous usage or both, says Co-op SEO Steve Murrells.
Businesses have to use a certain percentage of their estimated annual consumption or face penalties, for both under-use or overuse, because of a small print clause known as ‘volume tolerances’ generally found in energy supply contracts. Very often businesses remain locked in such contracts in fear of paying a penalty, but also could be paying for unused energy without even realising it. With this in mind, businesses are being urged to not only review their current contracts but also to make the switch to more energy efficient systems.
In addition to substantial economic benefits, making the switch to LED lighting provides a sustainable contribution towards the fulfilment of long-term environmental objectives for all businesses. Significantly lower energy consumption means a reduced carbon footprint and less impact on the environment, and creates a lighter and brighter working environment with improved visibility for employees.
Aside from the financial and environmental factors, the most obvious and instant benefit of LED lighting is the quality. They also allow companies to save in excess of 70% in lighting energy costs, significantly reduce the cost of carbon tax as well as lowering maintenance costs, and depending on the grants available to them, companies can expect to see massive energy savings, with it now easy to achieve 50% to 80% energy savings on most projects leading to a fast return on investment, often in just 18 months.
Grants vary depending on the authority but can be as high as 60%, and whilst often capped this can be as much as £50,000, which can outweigh any penalties that could occur from exiting an energy contract early.
Introducing smart systems is also a good way to monitor and control how much electricity is being used and allows users to access the systems from their mobile devices, so they aren’t required to be on site in order to manage consumption. Smart systems follow schedules and make decisions, and when operated alongside the right energy plan can still help businesses save thousands even when they aren’t able to open their doors.
In what has been an extremely unprecedented and difficult year for everyone, there have been many challenges that have surfaced that weren’t even on the radar for many businesses 12 months ago. By taking the time to research local and national finance grants for your business sector and investing in upgrading the onsite electrical equipment to include sensors, smart lighting and energy efficient systems, companies are given the peace of mind that they are doing what they can to save money on their bills when so much else is still uncertain.