Energy efficiency has higher priority with employers than redundancies or other staff cost-cutting

Employers now rank energy efficiency ahead of redundancies or cutting staff bonuses as a better way to save money, a study has found.

More than half the employers polled said they were looking to save money with energy efficiency than redundancies or reducing staff bonuses.

The survey of 867 senior managers of small and medium companies by Carbon Trust, a government-funded company, also found UK businesses could save nearly £2.5bn over the next 12 months by enforcing energy-saving measures, the equivalent of 13% of UK companies’ energy bills or the annual salaries of 100,000 employees.

More than £7m is wasted daily because of poor energy efficiency, the study found, and Hugh Jones, solutions director at the Carbon Trust, claimed this could save HR a lot of work.

“Our research shows that energy efficiency measures, not job cuts or salary freezes, are the cost-cutting steps businesses are considering first during this economically challenging time,” he said. “It’s an encouraging sign that wise companies are realising that cutting carbon and being green is the easiest way to make a business lean.

“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.”

In the professional services sector more (15%) business leaders said that reducing carbon emissions had become more important in the last six months than those who said it had fallen down their agenda (10%).

Jones urged all employers to reduce their carbon emissions.

“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.”

Neil Bentley, director of business environment at the CBI, said: “The analysis confirms the compelling business case for urgent action to improve energy efficiency and common-sense measures like turning off lights and turning the heating down can lead to substantial reductions in firms’ energy bills.”

David Boomer, head of energy efficiency and climate change at the Institute of Directors, said: “Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective measures that business can take to reduce operational costs and improve their competitiveness. We strongly endorse the Carbon Trust’s message and would encourage businesses of all sizes to reduce their energy use.”

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