Energy advice that could help businesses save thousands of pounds

The SIC's Alan Grieve carrying out an energy use assessment at the Toll Clock Shopping Centre in Lerwick. Photo: Shetland News

A NEW energy advice service offered by Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has been set up to help the isles’ 1,200 small and medium sized enterprises reduce their carbon footprint and make big savings in the process.

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, the SIC’s Carbon Management Team’s Alan Grieve is working on a transition project as an independent energy assessor to help businesses become more energy efficient.

Alan can also help eligible businesses access up to £100,000 in interest-free loans provided for energy saving and other measures. These loans are administered by the government agency Resource Efficient Scotland. Currently eligible businesses qualifying for their interest free loans can also receive cash back on the loan of up to 15 per cent.

Whilst it is known that over half of all homes in Shetland – and as many as two-thirds in the remoter isles – are defined as fuel poor in that they spend 10 per cent of their income on household energy use, no-one has ever carried out such an energy audit for the islands’ many small businesses.

Mary Lisk, who leads the Carbon Management Team, says many businesses were likely to suffer from similar energy problems as domestic properties, and she encouraged business owners to get in touch on the numbers below.

She said that in the past five years the Carbon Management Team had supported over 600 domestic property owners to improve their buildings.

As part of the wider Estate Operations Service the team also had a programme for energy improvement in many Council owned and operated buildings which have been successfully upgraded with better insulation, more efficient heating and the use of LED lights.

“A number of Shetland businesses either lack the knowledge or are overburdened by the work they have to get done as a business, so they don’t have the time to step back and analyse their energy use,” she said.

“By getting an independent assessor in to do that, the report you get can potentially save you a lot, and it can raise issues that you maybe have not even thought about. The measures identified might not be too expensive to do but could save you a lot of money.

“It is about overcoming that lack of concentrated thought on energy in the business. Alan can come in and help.”

Following an initial chat with the assessor, an energy audit could be carried out to identify potential energy efficiency measures and if required Alan can produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for you.

There may be a number of low cost energy efficiency measures the business can undertake which will have a cost saving benefit.

Alan would then discuss the options available with the company and make contact with Resource Efficient Scotland for them if required. He could also give advice for the business on the potential for small-scale renewables such as solar panels and wind turbines. Small-scale generation can also cut bills for the property concerned.

The Carbon Management Team can also arrange for businesses to make contact with Citrus Energy, a Scottish social enterprise specialising in finding the best energy prices for domestic and commercial customers.

Switching energy supplier could save domestic and commercial customers hundreds of pounds every year. Citrus has already visited Shetland twice this year to support public events and has saved domestic customers on average £350 each – one home saving £750. Businesses can also save substantially if they consider switching. Citrus Energy will do all the work for the business.

Mary Lisk added that saving energy did not just make environmental sense in that it would cut carbon emissions and help to tackle global warming and climate change, but it would also open up many commercial opportunities for local contractors specialising in the field.

The business carrying out the energy reduction saves money and improves its bottom line – but also local firms in the energy and insulation sector can find new business which could enable them to take on new workers. Everyone wins.

As half of all carbon emissions in Scotland come from properties, both commercial and domestic, upgrading those to acceptable energy standards was all “part and parcel of preparing the world for our grand-children”.

“It is important to get on with this sooner rather than later,” Lisk added.

Shetland Islands Council’s energy helpdesk can be contacted on 01595 744759 or via e-mail carbonmanagement@shetland.gov.uk 

More information on Resource Efficient Scotland can be found at www.resourceefficientscotland.com or telephone: 0808 808 2268.

Citrus for Business can help you find the most cost-effective energy supplier – phone 0800 221 8089.