By Marcus Leach

Businesses in the industrial and public sector plan to make the biggest investments in energy efficiency measures this year, with 32% and 30% respectively saying they will spend over £5,000, according to research from British Gas.

In contrast, the research reveals that 26% of retailers and 22% of business services firms — including corporate lawyers and accountants - do not plan on spending anything on energy efficiency at all in 2011, thereby missing out on potential savings of up to 20% on their energy costs.

Simple steps including monitoring usage and installing energy efficiency devices along with other low and no cost options, including supporting positive behavioural changes among employees, can quickly save 10% of costs leaving such businesses thousands of pounds better off. Other, more involved measures, which generate greater savings — such as building controls and microgeneration — can cut bills by upwards of 20%.

Those businesses that opt for long-term cost saving measures — such as installing energy efficiency technologies — stand to gain not only from cost savings and reduced consumption, but will reap reputational benefits through compliance with current legislation such as the CRC.

The findings highlight disparities in energy efficiency spend across UK regions, with businesses in the North leading an energy efficiency drive. The survey suggests such businesses intend to invest £4,750 on average in efficiency measures — more than five times as much as those in London and the South East, and significantly more than the countrywide average of £2,958.

“Rising costs and growing legislative requirements for carbon reduction mean that businesses are facing huge pressures to become more energy efficient," Kanat Emiroglu, managing director of British Gas Business, said.

"These findings are encouraging as they suggest that despite tough economic conditions, many UK businesses are playing a long-game and investing in energy efficiency measures. Such businesses need the right information and support to enable them to make the best possible investment choices and reap the maximum benefit. Helping them get this right is vital to ensuring their long-term success.”

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