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Should your business switch to low-carbon electricity?

How you can make your business' electricity consumption greener

With computers running all day, printers left on stand-by, and air conditioning accidentally left on overnight, energy consumption is usually one of the biggest contributions to a business’ carbon footprint.

While you may not always be able to control your staff’s behaviour when it comes to overfilling the kettle, one way to mitigate the guilt brought on by their energy-guzzling is to switch to a more eco-friendly energy supplier.

The good news is that consumption of renewable energy has almost doubled in the last few years, so there is a wide range of choices available. Most large suppliers now offer a ‘green tariff’, they either promise to offset the carbon you produce from your energy consumption, or guarantee to source an agreed percentage of the power supplied to you from a sustainable source.

According to the Electricity Guide, there is only one company in the UK, Good Energy, which sources 100% of its energy from renewables. The rest range from the good (Ecotricity – 17.4%), to the bad (nPower – 3%), to the not very attractive at all (Powergen – 0.5%).

Switching to a green tariff can cost from around £10 a month extra for a green tariff from British Gas, to 10-15% of your total energy bill for a basic tariff with Good Energy, so your choice will depend not only on how much emphasis you wish to place on your business’ green credentials, but how much you have to spend on that reputation.

Owen Broadway from Good Energy says either way, the cost is worth it in the long term. “Reducing the amount of electricity you use is a really easy way you can reduce your impact,” he says.

Broadway adds that when choosing whether or not to switch tariffs, it’s important to keep in mind the role that businesses play in society.

“A business outlet wants to carve its own niche in the marketplace, and wants to be the best at what it does, which should extend to environmental principles as well. It’s key that businesses set the agenda, because they are the opinion formers,” he says.

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