Is your company auditing its energy use in time for December's Esos deadline?

Big businesses in the UK are being urged to get a grip on their energy consumption in time to comply with new rules requiring them to audit how much they use and identify ways to reduce it.

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme applies to businesses that employ more than 250 people, whose annual sales exceed £38 million, or whose balance sheet total is above £33 million. If companies haven’t complied by the deadline of 5 December, they could face fines of up to £5,000, plus £500 for every working day.

Esos doesn’t require companies to reduce their consumption – only to check how much they’re using and find ways they could use less. The idea is that this will spur them into taking energy-saving steps for themselves"

But with three months to go, fewer than 200 of the 10,000 or so companies covered by Esos have complied with the requirements. The Environment Agency says it is expecting a late surge of submissions as the deadline gets closer. It is yet to provide detailed information on how it intends to enforce the scheme.

Esos doesn’t actually require companies to reduce their energy consumption – only to check how much they’re using and find ways they could reduce it. The idea is that this will awaken businesses to the benefits, and spur them into taking energy-saving steps for themselves.

But Kevin Greenhorn, managing director of SSE’s energy management business, said businesses ‘must act now’ to be sure they’ll comply before the deadline.  ‘This legislation will not just ensure businesses are more energy efficient but could identify significant cost savings to the tune of £1.6bn,’ said Greenhorn. ‘Good energy management starts with a thorough audit of consumption.  There’s then generally a wide range of action companies can take to reduce their overheads and realise significant cost savings.’

Colin Lawson of UK lighting manufacturer Tamlite said: ‘Lighting, while not necessarily a big win compared to other energy-saving technologies, represents some of the ripest low-hanging fruit available to organisations wanting to implement Esos recommendations – it’s affordable, quick to implement and offers a strong return-on-investment in the face of rising electricity costs.’

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: ‘It’s mandatory, so companies will have to comply, but it’s also a good thing for business. We understand that it’s work, but it’s about finding measures that will reduce companies’ energy consumption, save them money, improve energy security and reduce carbon emissions. It benefits everyone.’

The agency reckons the average savings from energy-saving measures identified through Esos will be 13.5 times higher than the cost of conducting the audit.

Duncan Biggins, managing director of BG Energy Solutions, said: ‘The Esos audit should be seen as simply the start of a journey to wider benefits. Our message to UK businesses is to act on Esos and take the recommendations to the heart of their efficiency strategy.’