November 28 2013.

- Half of SME bosses left to turn off lights and machines when not in use

- Energy waste main worry, but third of small firms do not track consumption

Britain's workers are leaving the majority of small business bosses fuming and frustrated by leaving lights, equipment and machinery powered up at the end of the working day, a new survey by E.ON1 has revealed.

Energy waste is one of the top irritations for seven out of ten small business bosses, creating tension in the workplace as two-fifths (38%) say they are the ones left to take sole charge of monitoring and managing their company's energy consumption.

Whilst minimising costs is the main motivation for SME leaders wanting to see greater workplace efficiency (69%), four out of ten said that a poor reputation for sustainability could lead customers viewing their business in a negative light. As a result, controlling energy waste is seen as the most important thing for maintaining business efficiency, behind accurate budgeting and collecting debt.

Older generations of business leaders appear to be more motivated, with 70% of bosses aged 35 to 54 tracking energy consumption, compared to half (50%) of respondents aged 18 to 34. The focus also varies across sectors, with catering and hospitality revealed as most proactive (72%) and professional services shown to monitor the least (63%).

Anthony Ainsworth, sales and marketing director at E.ON, said: "It's positive to see many small business owners and managers proactively monitoring energy performance but it is understandably frustrating if you feel you're fighting that battle alone. Senior staff might not always have time to keep track of consumption, and businesses that are able to embed a culture of monitoring throughout the workplace will have a greater chance of improving overall business efficiency.

"To achieve this it's important all employees have greater visibility of their company's energy habits as well as understanding the implications of waste. At E.ON, we want to help customers address both of these needs, providing the tools and advice they need to gain better insight of their energy performance, and how to use no more than they need, but delivered in a way that helps them get on with the business of running a business."

The research of 1,000 small business decision-makers also provided insights on some of the measures small business leaders are taking to encourage a more positive attitude to workplace energy performance. Nearly half (43%) set improvement targets and a quarter align staff bonuses with overall business efficiency.

Other measures businesses said would help encourage staff to monitor energy consumption more closely include real time information showing use/waste (39%) and a breakdown of consumption across heating, lighting, machinery and equipment (36%).

E.ON's Energy Toolkit is a package of energy saving help and advice for small business customers, designed to give greater visibility on where and when energy is used, help detect waste and identify areas where changes can be made.

The service includes:

- A wireless electricity monitor with a real-time display showing when consumption is highest, allowing businesses to measure use by cost, kilowatt-hours and CO2 emissions

- A dedicated energy saving advice line and online hub with detailed information relevant to customers' specific industries

- A range of downloadable posters and staff engagement advice for customers to use within their business to encourage colleagues to take greater responsibility for saving energy.

Fig 1. Sectors monitoring energy consumption


Catering (72%)

Light industrial / Manufacturing (71%)

Construction (70%)

Retail (66%)

Agriculture / Farming (64%)

Professional services (63%)

Fig 2. Most commonly tracked utility uses


Overall electricity consumption (85%)

Telephone / Broadband (79%)

Heating (68%)

Lighting (66%)

Overall gas consumption (58%)

Water (46%)

Machinery performance (29%)

Air Conditioning (14)