The UK’s population is continuing to grow and with it the demand for goods and services is increasing at a similar rate. However, have you ever stopped to think about just how much energy is required for commercial industries to keep up with this demand?
According to Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, domestic consumption of electricity alone only amounts to around 30 per cent of all electricity produced in the UK, with the rest being used by businesses and public sector organisations. Indeed, whether you look at the retail industry, manufacturing industries or even the public sector, the amount of energy consumed by non-domestic organisations in the UK is quite simply mind boggling.
To help you learn more about UK energy consumption and which industries use the most, this blog breaks down some of the most power-hungry non-domestic sectors in the UK to find how much gas and electricity they use to function and what they use it on.
Types of businesses that use a lot of energy
Energy consumption varies greatly from industry to industry in the UK. Some, such as the transport industry, experience consistent year-on-year increases in energy consumption, others, like the UK’s mining industry for example, have continued to consume less and less energy as these sectors gradually decline. As of 2018, the UK as a whole consumed over 142,724 kilotonnes of oil equivalent energy (natural gas, solid fossil fuels and electricity) across four main sectors: domestic, industrial, travel and services. Within this break down, high energy consumption industries included:
Supermarkets, convenience stores and high street retailers
When you consider power-hungry businesses, it’s common to first think about manufacturing industries that seemingly use lots of energy-sapping heavy machinery and storage facilities, as opposed to the clean and airy retail stores you use each day. However, the fact is that basic retailers such as supermarkets and convenience stores actually represent one of the largest non-domestic consumers of energy in the UK.
Using a combined total of over 2,300 kilotonnes of oil equivalent to power everything from appliances to keep food refrigerated and frozen to basic overheads including lighting and HVAC (heating and cooling) systems for large chains of individual stores, this industry is deceptively high on the list of the UK’s largest non-domestic energy consumers.
Perhaps less surprising is the amount of energy hospitals in the UK consume. Again using over 2,300 kilotonnes of oil equivalent each year in order to function, hospitals are one of the largest users of gas and electricity in the UK. With typically large buildings to light, heat and cool, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, not to mention an array of power-hungry medical tools, equipment and appliances that are crucial in modern hospitals, the energy needs of both NHS and private institutions ensures the healthcare industry consistently remains one of the UK’s highest energy consuming sectors year-on-year.
Although you might not realise it, businesses that operate out of offices and other similar workplaces account for some of the highest non-domestic energy consumption in the UK. Using over 3,000 kilotonnes of oil equivalent energy each year according to government data, businesses in this sector pay millions of pounds each year to run electronic appliances in the office and heat buildings for an average of eight hours a day. This results not only in high UK electricity consumption and gas usage in order to function, but also plenty of wasted energy on appliances such as internet servers, landline phones and some HVAC systems that run 24 hours a day. After all, do you know which office appliances consume the most energy?
Although switching to more energy-efficient equipment and implementing energy saving company policies for staff to follow can lower the amount of energy consumed by office-based businesses, the sheer number of these businesses operating in the UK, and the amount of electricity and gas they require to function even at a basic level, means this sector is likely to consistently appear on a list of the nation’s biggest energy consumers for many years to come.
Unsurprisingly, the UK’s manufacturing sector represents one of the largest non-domestic energy consumers. From rubber and plastic production and basic metal manufacturing to mineral, chemical and food production, according to government figures, the UK’s manufacturing sector used a whopping 10,493 kilotonnes of oil equivalent energy during 2018.
Energy in this sector is needed to power everything from heavy machinery and specialist storage facilities to the lighting and heating of each warehouse and factory. Although the use of new technologies such as smart meters and energy optimising equipment, as well as an increased use of renewable energy, has seen manufacturing industries reduce the amount of wasted energy in their operations and better embrace energy efficiency in the UK, this has not prevented a year-on-year increase in energy consumption in the sector. The backbone of the UK’s economy, while the prices these businesses pay for their energy can change depending on their provider and current gas and electricity tariffs, the actual amount of kWhs they consume is unlikely to decrease anytime soon.
Transport and travel industries
While it will come as no surprise that the fuel-reliant transport and travel industries in the UK consume a lot of energy, the actual amount may come as a shock. According to government data, an incredible 40 per cent of all energy used in the UK in 2018 was consumed in these industries. To put that into context, that was 11 per cent higher than all domestic energy consumed in the UK during the same year.
Although energy consumption in all major UK industries appears to be increasing, the transport sector actually recorded the highest growth. With more logistical businesses needed to deal with a boom in online delivery services, the transport industry has grown exponentially in recent years, perhaps accounting for this growth. This trend is surely set to continue with an increase in online shopping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversely however, the pandemic could also see the travel industry suffer. With fewer people able to book holidays due to government restrictions, this could potentially result in a drop in energy consumption in the future.
If your business operates in one of these power-hungry industries, why not let Utility Bidder help? Switching your energy deal to a better tariff can help your business save thousands of pounds each year. We make it easy to find and compare the best business energy deals on the market. Compare with us today to see how much your business can save.
22. Take advantage of energy efficiency loans and grants
Another energy saving business opportunity is to take advantage of grants and loans for energy efficiency projects. The eligibility criteria and availability of business energy saving grants and loans varies, often being dependent upon the size of your organisation, the area you are based in, the market sector you work in, or the product or service you provide. You can search for energy saving grants for businesses, as well as loans, here.
23. Apply for environmental tax cuts
The UK government has various environmental taxes in place to help encourage businesses to operate in more sustainable ways. For example, your company may be entitled to tax deductions or exemptions if you make a conscious effort to embrace energy-efficient technology, or if you’re a small business that doesn’t use much energy. You can visit the government website to discover more about any relevant entitlements.
24. Get your workers involved
Getting buy-in from your workers can be key to achieving real energy savings across your business. To help with this, make sure you train your staff in energy efficient practices, including how to use equipment efficiently. You may also want to place posters around your workplace to remind staff of specific ways to save energy. Additionally, many businesses now appoint employee energy champions who are responsible for coming up with small-scale energy saving business ideas and helping to ensure fellow employees remain enthusiastic about the company’s eco-friendly policies. This can help to get everyone involved in making your company leaner and greener.
25. Keep track of your energy usage
So that you can measure how effective all of your energy saving methods are, make sure you keep a close eye on your power usage. If you have a smart meter, you will find it easier to keep a precise account of how much energy you are using. Monitoring your power usage can help you to see which energy efficiency practices are having the most impact and allow you to refine your approach on an ongoing basis.
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