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Grant delivers energy saving benefits to 94 per cent of SMEs, but barriers remain

Energy efficiency news – by GreenWise staff
5th March 2012
A programme that provided small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South East small grants to improve their energy efficiency has delivered savings to the vast majority of those that bought into the scheme, but found that a poor understanding of the potential savings achievable was a barrier to take-up.
The Energy Grant500, which offered SMEs in the South East a £500 grant towards the cost of implementing an energy efficiency measure, delivered energy savings and other benefits to 94.3 per cent of those that too up the grant. However, it also highlighted a number of barriers preventing SMEs improving their energy efficiency, in particular a poor understanding of the potential savings and payback of investment and poor understanding of their energy consumption and how to reduce it.

A survey of the companies that participated in Energy Grant500, which ended in November last year, reveals that 40 per cent of those that took part are now consuming between 10 and 19 per cent less energy than they were before they embarked on the programme, while almost 15 per cent have achieved a saving of between 20 and 29 per cent on their energy bills.

Energy Grant500
Energy Grant500, which ran for three years in the South East and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and South East Regional Development Agency and was delivered through the Business Link programme. 

Energy Grant500 encouraged SMEs to improve their understanding of their energy consumption by loaning an energy monitor, reviewing their bills and looking around their premises at the building fabric, lighting, equipment, heating and cooling. They had access to a walk-round checklist that helped to highlight simple low and no cost measures to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as materials to support behavioural change. The stimulus for action was a programme of small grants, allowing SMEs to make energy efficiency improvements to their business premises or processes.

Survey findings
The survey carried out by BSK-CIC, which helped deliver the programme, found that of the 521 SMEs that fully engaged in the programme and took action to reduce energy consumption, 42 per cent of them had a better understanding of they energy consumption since being on the programme and 77 per cent had been helped to make financial savings. 

It confirmed that without the support from the programme, 92 per cent would not have taken action at this time.

"SMEs are thinking more about energy efficiency as a result of their engagement with [the programme] and are taking reduction action ranging from no cost measures such as switching off and better control, through to investing in energy efficient products and services," the BSK-CIC report said. 

Barriers to take-up
However, of those businesses (976) that did not make a grant application, the survey revealed that take up was hindered by a number of barriers. These included a lack of funds, poor understanding of energy consumption and how to reduce it, and distrust of the savings achievable from energy efficiency products and services. 
"Distrust of technologies and products arising from bad press and the activities of cowboys in the market and lack of funds [is a barrier]," said one supplier of energy efficiency products who was surveyed.

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Grant delivers energy saving benefits to 94 per cent of SMEs, but barriers remain
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