Over the next six weeks, NatWest will be bringing you business-focused tips to support small and medium-sized enterprises through the cost-of-living crisis.

Covering everything from energy efficiency, negotiating savings with suppliers, reducing property costs, and improving your own personal wellbeing, the features are part of the Somerset County Gazette's cost-of-living crisis campaign with NatWest to help SMEs fight back stronger.

This week we look at steps you can take to reduce your energy costs.

1. Choose the right tariff

How and when you use your energy should determine your choice of energy tariff. Depending on your meter type, you can opt for an Economy 7 tariff, which will give you both a day unit rate and a night unit rate. If you have energy-intensive appliances that you can programme to come on at night – for example ovens, dishwashers, or heating and cooling systems – you can make use of the cheaper night-time unit rate. 

2. Switch off

Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when switched off and encouraging staff to be mindful of this could help save costs. Ask employees to enable sleep mode when not using a computer for more than 20 minutes and remember that screen savers are not energy savers – in fact, they can even use more energy than leaving the screen active. Computers and monitors should be switched off if not being used for more than two hours, and when equipment isn’t being used for an extended period, unplug it. These are just a few examples, but engaging employees in a conversation about small changes could make a big difference. 

3. Reduce water temperature and consumption

Less water consumed means a lower water bill and a lower energy bill. Low-water-consumption showers and toilets, automatic shower controls, and tap aerators – clever devices that reduce the amount of water flowing through a tap without losing water pressure – are some of the tools you can use to do this.

4. Keep it clean

Ensure that air conditioning units and refrigeration and freezer systems are kept clean and free from dust, debris and obstruction. While it may seem a simple step, this could produce big results in efficiency, helping to bring down your energy bills. It could also extend the lifetime of the machines.

5. Maintain your equipment

Service your boiler annually, check your refrigerators and freezers are not leaking fluid or cold air, and test any technology you have, such as computers or servers, to make sure it’s all operating efficiently. While there may be some costs involved, you could save money on your energy and fuel bills in the long run. It also helps if you delay switching on heating or air conditioning until later in the year.


6. See the light

Using energy-saving lightbulbs can also give you a small saving. According to the Energy Saving Trust switching from a 100w incandescent bulb to LED can save up to £13 per year (based on a 1,100-luman bulb running for 562 hours per year. And it’s also a good idea to turn lights off when they’re not in use too – leaving them on could be bumping up your bills. The easiest way to curb this is by investing in a motion-sensor lighting system.


7. Make sure everyone knows how to help

Getting your employees on board with energy saving is a great way to reduce your costs. Educate everyone on the benefits of energy efficiency so they can call out ways to save. And offering flexible or remote working could reduce the amount of office space, heating, lighting, and electricity you need to pay as well.

And four steps to potential long-term savings

1. Use smart thermometers 

Smart thermometers and automatic timers will give you greater control over your heating and cooling. You can programme them to make sure the heating is off when the office is empty, for example at weekends, then comes on again just before people arrive for work. You can also use a smart thermometer to turn the heating or cooling off once the room has reached a specified temperature. 

2. Use fewer fridges and freezers

It’s often cheaper to run one larger unit than two smaller ones. By more effectively using the space you have, you may find you’re able to make do with fewer units. 

3. Generate your own energy 

You could save money through on-site generation by installing solar panels on your roof, or elsewhere on your work premises. With the cost of electricity rising quickly, investing in assets that could produce your own power could lead to significant long-term savings. If you don’t use all the energy you generate, you can sell it back to the grid for an additional revenue stream. 

4. Electrify your fleet

As the prices of petrol and diesel rise, your employees and your business will be facing higher charges. Switching to electric vehicles and installing charge points in your car park could help both you and your employees to save on vehicle running costs.