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Small businesses to get smart assistance to cut consumption

When it comes to improving business energy efficiency, most of the Government’s investment goes to large energy users – typically industrial and commercial organisations – and small businesses can find that there’s little support for their efficiency measures.

While small businesses usually have lower energy consumption levels, their combined energy usage is significant. Small businesses in the hospitality, retail and education sectors, for example, use as much energy as 4.3 million homes. The Government has recently pledged 8.8 million in funding to develop technologies that will help small businesses to gain control over and reduce their energy use.

Investment in innovation

It’s estimated that smart technologies, such as thermostats that can be controlled remotely, could help the UK to save up to £40 billion in energy costs in coming years. The Government believes that smart meters will be central to this revolution, and adoption of smart meters is rising – there are currently over 11 million smart meters in operation in homes and small businesses across the UK.

Simply installing a smart meter won’t make a business more energy efficient, however – they need the right tools to make the most of the data that their smart meter provides. The Government has identified a lack of products specifically aimed at SME enterprises, to help them to use their smart meters to reduce their consumption, and they’ve set out to change this.

As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, they have awarded £8.8 million to 9 UK-based competition winners and an evaluation project. The winners, which range from energy management start-ups to tech leaders like Toshiba and Samsung, have designed smart systems which can provide businesses with real-time, tailored data on their energy consumption.

The winners

Some of the winning projects have already been announced, and the potential for each to deliver improved energy efficiency is clear.

Funding has been allocated to RAE2, an energy management system that takes data from smart meters and analyses it, before turning that data into a visual representation of the business’s (or site’s) energy usage. The intelligent system can use its analysis to create energy strategies that are aligned to specific business needs and set accurate budgets for individual machines or operational activities. It also monitors energy usage in near real-time, which means it can schedule workloads efficiently and quickly identify and potentially rectify operational issues.

Another winner, Considerate Hoteliers, is developing an energy management app for SMEs in the hospitality industry. The app will give users information on their energy usage, such as daily energy performance trends correlated to room nights, trends in utility costs and alerts to spikes in consumption. Users will also receive recommendations on how to become more energy efficient from the app, along with the ability to record any actions they take to reduce consumption and track their impact.

Small business benefits

It’s hoped that by adopting these new tools, small businesses will be able to gain a greater understanding of their energy consumption and find ways to effectively reduce their usage. By implementing energy efficiency best practices, it’s estimated that SMEs could cut their energy use by almost a quarter, and they could reduce their energy bills as a result.

Larger businesses with half-hourly meters have been able to benefit from detailed insight into their consumption for years now, and this could be the first step towards giving SMEs the same advantage. With access to real-time consumption information, and intelligent energy management systems in place, it should be easier for SMEs to participate in demand side response schemes and cut their carbon emissions. In the near future, they may also be able to manage their operations to reduce peak charges.

Seeking support

At Inenco, we know that small businesses don’t always have the time or in-house expertise needed to create an optimised energy strategy.

If you’re in a small business, and you’d like some advice on how to become more energy efficient and keep your energy costs low, Inenco’s industry experts are here to help – give us a call today on 0800 408 1499 or email enquiries@inenco.com.