How you can take control of your energy bills in your bar

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Claire Maugham Smart-Energy-GBClaire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB, explains how you can take control of your energy bills by upgrading to a smart meter in your bar or pub

Staying warm and cosy this winter is on everyone’s mind, especially those in the hospitality industry. Around this time of year, guests pile into every corner of even the most crowded pub or drink Christmas cocktails at the bar with friends and colleagues. Busy periods are great for business turnover, but with more traffic, comes a greater strain on your business’s energy bills.

Customers coming in and out of the door lets the cold air in and makes heating indoor areas harder than normal. The poor hot chocolate machine can end up working overtime all season, and those little issues like loose seals around the windows that you noticed in summer months, might suddenly cause you a lot more bother.

Around this time of year, everything adds up and the last thing you want to worry about is not knowing how much money you’re spending on your energy bills. That’s where smart meters come in.

Many people already know that smart meters are available for every household in Great Britain, but lots of small businesses can also upgrade to the new, digital meters.

The first step to saving on energy costs and improving your business policy on sustainability is understanding your energy use. And, by making small, sustainable changes with the help of a smart meter, you can keep your gas and electricity a little bit more under control this winter.

Why smart meters?

With a smart meter, you will get accurate bills – no more estimates – so you can rely on only paying for what your business is actually spending on energy. Smart meters allow you to monitor your energy use in near real time and in pounds and pence. With this knowledge, you can begin to take control of your energy consumption, and take steps towards reducing it.

For some guidance on how to begin making such steps, Smart Energy GB has worked with the Carbon Trust to produce tips on how small bars, pubs and hospitality businesses can reduce their energy waste and save money, detailed below.

Smart meter installations normally take around two hours and your energy supplier will work with you to try to find a time that’s convenient for both parties. Many businesses can get their smart meter at no additional cost; others may need to pay a small charge for the installation or access to data. Your supplier will tell you about any charges up front.

If your business has fewer than 10 employees – or their full-time equivalent – you may be eligible to upgrade to a smart meter. Contact your energy supplier today about arranging your installation.

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Dr Paul Swift from the Carbon Trust shares his six top tips to help the hospitality sector to get smart about business energy use

Understand your energy consumption: Look for patterns in energy use and monitor unexpected spikes, such as high gas use in summer. Getting a smart meter installed will allow you to do this, as well as helping you to keep track of energy costs, giving you the information you need to budget and manage cash flow. You’ll also get accurate bills instead of estimates.

Don’t skimp on maintenance: Badly maintained equipment uses more energy and costs more to run. Service your boiler regularly, check that pipes and valves are well-insulated, defrost freezers and clean air filters. Keep gutters and drains clear and repair any holes in roofs and walls – a wet building is more expensive to heat than a dry one.

Check your temperature: Ask your customers and staff for feedback to improve comfort – there may be areas you can reduce heating or air conditioning, or times you can switch it off. Use a thermometer to check thermostats are in working order and ensure that timers are working as expected.

Keep an eye on the kitchen: Modern kitchen equipment reaches the desired temperature quickly, so don’t switch it on until you need it. Check that the seals of fridges and oven doors are snug, and that gas burners show a blue flame. Consider replacing old equipment (over 15 years old) with more efficient alternatives.

Check the cellar: If you have a cellar, ensure heat-producing equipment, such as line coolers, cooling cabinets, ice-makers and even old tungsten light bulbs are not also in there. Check your insulation and ensure the cellar is kept at the recommended temperature (11-13°C).

Take advantage of refurbishments: Get advice on installing new lighting, insulating roofs and walls, or upgrading single-glazed windows. Improving insulation will lower bills by eliminating draughts in winter and overheating in summer, creating a more comfortable temperature which will be appreciated by customers.

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