That’s according to new research from utility provider E.ON, which reveals that more than 12% of small businesses use electrical appliances, such as shop-front gadgets and attractive lighting, as a tactic to lure customers from competitors.

E.ON’s business energy director Anthony Ainsworth said: “This research paints a picture of British businesses sitting side-by-side on the high street, competing not just amongst rival firms in the same sectors but also against neighbours in order to attract customers.”

Wasting energy

However, through the overuse of machinery or equipment, inefficient or outdated appliances and fixtures, and excessive use of lighting, air conditioning and heating, businesses could be wasting far more energy than they realise, ultimately hindering their attempts to generate revenue.

More than half (57%) of catering and hospitality businesses are likely to leave equipment on when not in use, while 52% of retailers leave window displays on through the night.

Ainsworth added: “Using attractive lighting can be a useful way to exhibit goods or attract customers but it may not be cost-effective if you rely on outdated or inefficient fixtures to light your store through the night.”

Cost of technology

The vast majority (88%) of small business owners said they are motivated to manage and control workplace energy use better. However, two thirds said factors such as the cost of new technology prevent them from doing so.

“Improvements can often be made for free,” added Ainsworth. “At E.ON we have a package of help and advice on offer so customers can identify areas of waste and help implement changes, showing the potential cost savings against any investment required.”

E.ON’s research was carried out in March 2014, with more than 1,000 business leaders from across the UK questioned about their energy usage.

INFOGRAPHIC: Efficiency on the high streetThe new findings correspond with a study carried out by utility software firm, Opower, earlier this year. The research suggested that the UK could save up to 2.2TWh of energy every year through simple behavioural change adopted by businesses and consumers across the country.

Lois Vallely

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