The audit programme, run in partnership with Mentor, RBS Group’s business consultancy service, has been rolled out across the UK following a pilot in the north of England.
Over 60 businesses with an annual energy spend of between £10,000 and £200,000 a year took part in the pilot, achieving an average projected potential saving of £23,000. This includes annual savings on payments as well as potential refunds from overpaid energy bills.
Ian Burrow, Head of Agriculture and Renewable Energy for Commercial Banking at NatWest and RBS, said: “We are committed to supporting a sustainable future for our customers, suppliers and communities.
“The audits look at the behaviours of businesses from helping them tackle the small things like encouraging staff to switch off lights and appliances, as well as implementing energy saving initiatives such as better insulation and equipment to regulate energy flow into buildings."
Energy cost concerns
A survey carried out by the bank at the end of 2013 showed that although 85% of businesses agree that the rise of energy costs is a concern, less than a quarter carry out regular reviews of their energy (every 7-12 months).
The research also showed that 96% of respondents were on the standard energy tariff with only 11% generating their own energy through renewable technology.
Burrow said: “Businesses could be spending more than required on energy, which is why we are rolling out the programme to all businesses across the UK and helping them to make more informed decisions about their energy use.
“Something as simple as checking your business is on the correct energy tariff could make a huge difference. We saved one of our manufacturing businesses over £11,000 by just switching them from the standard tariff.”
How the audits work
The audits look at three main areas of energy including efficiency and use, how businesses are buying their energy – are they on the correct tariff – and whether there is an opportunity for them to produce their own energy through renewable technology. Audits aim to highlight immediate, medium and long-term opportunities for businesses, guidance on what to do next and estimated costs, savings and payback periods.
John Muncey, Head of Mentor, said: “Our Energy Auditors have been trained in energy management by the Energy Institute and are highly experienced in audit work. The RBS Mentor Energy Audits provide a range of benefits to businesses, which includes helping them to run their business more efficiently and save money, demonstrate green credentials when bidding for contracts, build a positive culture among employees and even increase their income.”
Business to save thousands each year
Furniture manufacturer Contrax undertook an energy audit with RBS and NatWest Mentor and saved thousands of pounds by implementing some simple changes.
Director Simon Baldwin said: “Our Mentor Senior Environment Consultant Dr Chris Wilson spent a day on-site, as well as on a number of phone calls, getting to know the business and helping us to follow through on his recommendations.His thorough research included looking at our use of energy for heating and running electrical equipment.
“He then prompted us to investigate how much energy we actually use, rather than simply paying a set amount to our supplier – we discovered we were overpaying by £650 per month and Chris has since helped us to negotiate a refund of £11,000 from our provider.”
Chris also highlighted that the furniture-maker’s waste materials such as sawdust, wood off-cuts, pallets and veneer left over from the manufacturing process could be burnt on-site in an industrial wood waste burner. Our oil bill and our waste has been reduced by a third,” Baldwin says.
“Another bonus is that the factory floor is now much tidier, as we don’t need to store waste for the next skip. This means the factory is a safer and more open place. Now we have seen how much we can save, we have been inspired to look at other areas where we can improve.”
Annual energy spend: £22,118
Cost to implement changes: £2,610
Indicative annual energy savings based on implementation of audit recommendations: £6,016
One-off energy refund: £11,000 - Indicative payback period: instant