AS overheads continue to rise across the board, it has become more important than ever for pubs to keep utility costs under control.
Yet it remains the case that some publicans continue to struggle with energy efficiency in their premises.
Trade bodies and service providers told SLTN last week that operators continue to have difficulty finding ways to cut their energy costs.
“Our experience is that many licensed operators are aware of the need to save money and that becoming more energy efficient is a key route,” said Carbon Trust Scotland manager Paul Wedgwood.
“However, this awareness does not always translate into an understanding of how to become more energy efficient themselves, nor indeed that it can often be done for minimal investment or even for free.”
In Scotland, companies that have an annual energy spend of over £30,000 are advised by the Carbon Trust, while businesses that spend under £30,000 can turn to the Energy Saving Trust.
John Forbes, advice network manager for Scotland at the Energy Saving Trust, said awareness of energy efficiency in the trade fluctuates between operators with little or no recognition of the issue and those who hire professional consultants to help them cut their energy bills.
“Our analysis of recent public houses audited by the Energy Saving Trust indicates that their average annual energy spend is around £11,000 with potential annual energy savings of £2500, with the main areas of focus being space heating, chillers for the beer cellar and lighting.”
Specialist energy efficiency consultancy Eco-monitor provides businesses with advice on how they can become more energy efficient.
The company recently carried out a survey of different businesses in the UK, asking them about their attitudes towards energy efficiency.
It found that 76% of companies were more concerned about rising energy costs than they had been six months before, with over half of respondents expecting further energy price rises over the next three years.
Despite this, around a third of respondents said they had no plan in place to manage these rising costs, despite acknowledging that they should have one.
While companies generally agreed that energy efficiency is important, several factors held them back from taking steps to cut their bills, according to Eco-monitor, including a perception that energy efficiency is less important than other business considerations. A lack of time was cited as another barrier to investigating efficiency.
An absence of legal protection is also a problem for pubs, said the Federation of Small Businesses, which argues that safeguards should be put in place for small firms to ensure that they do not fall foul of energy companies.
“Small licensed businesses need to be smart when they deal with energy firms and use the public advice and support available to make sure their business is as energy efficient as possible,” said Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor.
“The FSB continues to argue for more competition and better protection for small firms. However, in the meantime, small businesses need to do all they can to make sure their profits don’t end up in the energy companies’ pockets.”
Our analysis of public houses indicates potential energy savings of £2500.
Fortunately for publicans, help is available. Both the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust offer free energy reviews for businesses. And a new initiative from the Scottish Government aims to provide a single point of reference for Scottish businesses looking at energy efficiency.
The Scottish Energy and Resource Efficiency Service (SERES) web portal went live earlier this year, combining advice from the Carbon and Energy Saving trusts as well as Zero Waste Scotland. It is a recommended first stop for pubs who want to find out more about cutting their utility bills.