EEF research reports that hospitality SMEs overspend by £92m on energy bills
03/12/2014 - 10:37

Inefficient and old technology is causing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to overspend by almost £92m per annum on energy bills in the hospitality sector according to research conducted by the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme.

The research carried out by the EEF scheme studied the sector’s use of lighting, heating, hot water and other key areas of energy consumption. It reports that energy saving of over £414m could be achieved per year by the UK’s service sector SMEs.

Darren Riva, head of Green Financing of the EEF scheme, said: “Today’s tightened credit environment makes it increasingly difficult for SMEs to obtain affordable funding as traditional lenders have become more risk-adverse in their lending policy. Consequently, many firms feel discouraged from investing in green technologies because of insufficient access to capital. However, with funding available from innovative schemes like the EEF, where expected savings pay for the investment, organisations can now act on their green endeavor without having to worry about upfront capital.”

Myles McCarthy, managing director of Carbon Trust Implementation Services, said: “By investing in energy-efficient equipment as well as renewable energy technology, businesses can reap significant energy savings and cut down on their energy bills. Any sort of green investment is a step towards saving money, improving business competitiveness, and being a responsible citizen. Organisations that recognise the long-term benefits brought by energy efficiency will no doubt be better positioned than their competitors to grow their businesses more sustainably and profitably.” 

However, the British Hospitality Association suggested SMEs could do more than just replace old equipment when trying to cut high-energy costs.

Lucy Aldrich-Smith, sustainability manager, BHA, said: “Although new equipment is often more efficient, businesses shouldn’t rely solely on technology to maximise energy savings, they also need to understand how the technology best works for them and combine this with staff engagement and behaviour change. For example, if you install a new efficient heating system, without operating it in the right way it won’t work to its full potential. Furthermore, if staff have it on but with the windows open there is still going to be huge energy wastage. The BHA works closely with Utilitywise, Powerful Allies, Co-Save and E.ON to provide advice to members to improve their energy efficiency and lower carbon footprints to all aspects of their business.”

Jon Newsham, business development manager at Utilitywise said: “Through the findings made in the Utilitywise Energy Audit, one of the largest areas of energy waste is within food preparation areas within businesses, cafes and restaurants. Instead of upgrading straight away, there are ways to monitor the energy efficiency of existing equipment. Monitoring systems, such as Utility Insight, act as a virtual Energy Managers, which can help a business understand how energy is used and ways to reduce consumption and associated costs. Utilitywise have helped thousands of businesses in every sector, and in some cases installing energy monitoring products their customers have reduced consumption by as much as 33%.”

Launched in 2011, the EEF scheme, a joint initiative between the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services, aims to make finance for the acquisition of energy-efficient and renewable energy equipment more accessible and affordable for companies, in particular SMEs, in an economic environment where business lending remains tight.