New reforms proposed by government regulator Ofgem require energy suppliers to take all practical measures to roll out smart meters to their customer bases by 2020. As smart meters become integrated into the lives of consumers, there is also a greater onus being placed on their role within the business world. This is especially so within the context of the UK Government’s environmental target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, with pressure likely to mount on the energy output and carbon footprint of businesses. While the adoption of smart meters within business has been somewhat lethargic to date, the benefits they bring in terms of energy usage management and sustainability can have a significant financial impact on an organisation.
An evolving business landscape
Driven by financial management concerns, technological advancements and an increasing awareness of their environmental impact, the business mindset itself is also beginning to shift. The arrival of smart meters is a contributing factor behind this – allowing businesses to take control of their energy usage and expenditure, rather than being controlled by their suppliers. Several energy companies are serving as industry trailblazers when it comes to adopting and rolling out this innovative tech, such as that offered by the likes of Lucid, to their business and consumer customers. Lucid’s solution, for example, comes with the richest energy insight feature set on the market – enabling end-users to benefit from features such as real-time consumption updates and forecasts, energy budget tracking, and usage by activity. At the same time, it allows energy providers to meet the demand for such insights from their customers.
Increase sustainability, reduce costs
With access to such a solution, organisations can reduce their carbon footprint by more accurately managing usage and identifying wastage. Beyond the positive sustainability impact, there are also obvious financial benefits to this and for CSOs, being able to demonstrate ways to improve energy output while also reducing cost is an ongoing challenge. For smaller business, bricks and mortar costs – including utilities – can be a substantial drain on resources when margins are tight. Similarly, for larger organisations, even if the budget is there for greater energy bills, it is easy to lose track of usage across multiple sites, from which costs can very quickly spiral.
We are also now operating within a world where people are much more environmentally conscious than five or 10 years ago, and for any business – whether B2B or B2C – this is an increasingly important factor within the purchasing decision of their potential customers. The arrival of smart meters will only increase such awareness amongst the population, with research from Lucid and PwC finding that 71% of people agree that they do as much as they can to reduce their environmental impact, while 46% are willing to pay more for products and services which will reduce their environmental impact. Naturally, energy usage may not directly impact these costs but, as awareness grows, the expectation that businesses continue to increase their green footprint will too – and that needs to be across the entirety of their operations, including day-to-day energy usage. Further still, and as mentioned previously, CSOs and energy providers alike can also expect greater governmental pressure in order to help meet the UK’s new environmental targets. Innovative new smart-metering technology can be an easy and effective first step to doing so.
Adopt to adapt
Business leaders – whether CSOs or CIOs – must seek new solutions and adopt new smart tech to align their businesses with changing customer environmental expectations. Reducing your carbon footprint can be essential in retaining and attracting new customers, and smart meters can not only help to achieve this, but also deliver detailed metrics around energy usage which in turn enable a reduction in operational costs. For their part, energy companies should also act now to roll out this new technology within a climate where the risk of not adapting can lead to high business costs, loss of custom and the danger of being considered outdated.
James Hunt is the Business Development Director at UK-based energy management specialist Lucid Energy