(Last Updated On: 19th April 2012)

Towards the end of March I was lucky enough to get a free Home Energy Report, as part a project run by Brighton and Hove 10:10 and Brighton Energy Coop.  These organisations won a grant from DECC to carry out energy saving projects, you can read more here.

The cost of the Energy Assessments would have been around £400.

My question is whether a small business would pay £400 plus for an Assessment? Do businesses see the value in an Energy Assessment?

I run my business from my home, and therefore the Home Energy Report I received applies to my business as well as my home. As an office based business, my energy use is a key contributor to the carbon emissions generated by my business.

So do I feel this Energy Assessment has value for my business?

The overall answer is ‘Yes’. Here’s why:

1. Peace of mind – I’ve been putting in DIY measures and doing what I can to reduce my energy use.  But by getting an experts view I gain peace of mind, I’m doing all I can.

2. Cost Benefit Analysis – The Energy Assessment breaks down the measures I can implement by expected cost and the expected energy saving in £. That way I can see how many years it will take to recoup my investment for each measure. It helps me focus on what to implement first. For me, it will be double glazing (tricky in a conservation area). I’ve used the ‘Double Glazing Film’ before, but this autumn will hopefully put in secondary glass.

3. False economies – The Energy Assessment highlights areas where I would have thought I ‘should’ make a change, but in reality it wouldn’t save that much energy and the cost would outweigh the energy saved. Take as an example, a new boiler.  The report states: ‘Upgrade …. to a 90.2% efficient gas condensing boiler…this course of action will probably only be worth it at the end of your existing boilers lifetime’.

This report enables me to make informed decisions.

However, to make Energy Assessments cost effective and to deal with the large volume of such assessments that need to be performed to improve the housing stock, the assessments are standardised.

When you standardise something, you lose flexibility and detail.

For example, the savings are based on an average energy use for my type of house and occupancy.

Am I average?

When I’ve switched energy companies the new Direct Debit is based on expected energy use. Time and again I’ve then had to ask them to reduce the Direct Debit, as my energy use is always less than average.  Given I’m less than average, I’d expect the expected savings listed in the report to be less.

The costs to input measures are also averages. I’m hoping that it won’t cost me £2,390 to fit Thermostatic Radiator Valves to my 6 radiators!

Sometimes we don’t fit in the box.  For example, the Report states ‘currently none of your lights are low energy’.  This is not true, but there isn’t a box which reads, ‘some lights are low energy, and only those are used’. Also, the report considered fixed lights only, and not free standing lights.

There are more tailored assessments, but these would cost more for the additional time involved.

So when using an Energy Assessment you must bear in mind that averages are used, and therefore do not take the costs or savings as guaranteed.

Finally, if you want to save energy then a basic assessment will give you a good starting point.  If you are going to invest thousands of pounds in energy saving measures, then a few hundred on an energy assessment would be a wise investment.

So, would a business spend £400 plus on an Energy Assessment?

I believe the problem lies in a lack of information; businesses don’t know the potential savings.  I’m hoping that with the upcoming Green Deal there will be more media attention on Energy Assessments and potential savings.  This will motivate businesses to get advice on energy saving measures, be it in the form of a standardised or tailored energy assessment.

I’ll leave you with one tip from my Energy Report:

‘ To find out where warm air could be leaking from your home, take a candle around on a windy night. Look for gaps!’.

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