Urgent need for energy efficiency

UK industry is haemorrhaging almost £7m a day due to poor energy efficiency, according to new research released by the Carbon Trust.

The report reveals that energy efficiency is now the number one cost-cutting priority for UK businesses looking to combat the impact of a potential economic slowdown.

Of business leaders surveyed by the Carbon Trust, twice as many say reducing carbon emissions has risen up their agenda in the last six months than those who say it has fallen down (20% vs 9%). And they now rank energy efficiency ahead of recruitment freezes, redundancies, freezing salaries or giving below-inflation pay rises as a potential cost-saving measure.

Despite this, however, UK industry is still wasting almost £7m a day on poor energy efficiency. The Carbon Trust and business groups are urging businesses to seize the potential savings on offer.

New statistical analysis by the Carbon Trust highlights the scale and urgency of the issue, with estimates showing that UK businesses could collectively save nearly £2.5bn during the next 12 months, simply by implementing cost-effective energy efficiency measures. And the savings are not just the preserve of large energy-intensive companies: the potential savings for SMEs are around £1.3bn.

Hugh Jones, solutions director at the Carbon Trust, said: "Our new statistics provide stark evidence that if companies are starting to feel the bite from the economic downturn, the first place to look for cost savings should be their energy bill. There are literally millions of pounds going out of the window every day, across the UK.

"We're talking about money that could be saved by making quick and easy changes, such as encouraging staff to turn off computers and lights, turning down the heating or maintaining equipment properly."

Carbon emissions are the key cause of climate change, and business is responsible for around 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. The Carbon Trust analysis shows that, as well as saving cash, the measures would save around 22m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions - equivalent to Scotland's total annual business and commercial carbon emissions.

Phil Woolas, minister of state for the environment, said: "With companies increasingly feeling the pinch, this is a welcome reminder that saving carbon also saves money. And, as this research highlights, business leaders know that there are big savings to be made and they're taking action accordingly.

"In recent years there has been some exceptional work by businesses on making the energy they use go further - but there's still a lot to be done to avoid energy being wasted, and I'd encourage everyone in business, no matter how big or small, to adopt some of the cost-effective ways that will help them to cut their bills and their impact on the planet."

To find out more, businesses can call the Carbon Trust advice line on 0800 085 2005 or visit the Carbon Trust website at www.carbontrust.co.uk.