June 19th, 2018.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the hospitality and retail sectors like high street cafés, restaurants and shops, as well as schools and colleges are set to benefit from new, innovative ideas aimed at reducing their energy use.

Together these sectors use the same amount of energy as 4.3 million homes, but through more efficient practice this number could be cut by more than 1 million. Funding of £8.8 million has been awarded to help develop and evaluate technologies that will help these sectors take control of their energy use through the use of smart meters, as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

The innovative smart technologies of an upgraded energy grid, like electronic household devices and thermostats you can control from a mobile phone, can help the country save up to £40 billion on energy costs over decades to come and smart meters will be central to this revolution.

The UK based competition winners, ranging from small energy management companies to tech giants Samsung and Toshiba, have designed smart information systems that give businesses real-time, tailored data on their energy use, helping them save money by being more efficient.

The benefits range from highlighting spikes in energy use in real-time and recommending ways to cut use in the long-term, to identifying faulty equipment or inefficient ways of working.

Over 11 million smart meters are in operation in homes and small businesses around Great Britain, helping consumers take control of their energy use and bring down their bills. Despite this, there is currently a lack of products specifically aimed at small and medium-sized businesses to help them to use their smart meters to take control of their energy consumption. Competition winners have been granted funds to develop such products.

Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Claire Perry said: "The scale of the ambition displayed by the winning projects demonstrates that the UK is ready to lead the world when it comes to helping smaller businesses understand their energy use through smart systems.

"Energy costs for businesses can be one of the hardest things to understand and control, but these projects can change that, as well as help educate the next generation in our schools on the importance of controlling our energy consumption.

"Smart meters are an opportunity for us to rewrite the rules on how we engage with the energy market and these winners will ensure that the benefits can be felt by businesses and schools as well as homes."