High gas prices: what can you do?

Rising energy prices are making news headlines every day. Sustainable solutions pay for themselves faster and faster, but you still have to pay your gas bill this winter. When is the best time to invest in sustainable systems? And are there any small steps towards sustainability you can take right away?

If you choose to make your business operations greener now, you will save money in the long run. But it will not help you get through this energy crisis right away. In fact, there is currently so much demand for sustainable solutions that there are long waiting periods for heat pumps and solar panels, for example. Also, there is a major shortage of installers in this industry. If you order a heat pump now, delivery can take up to a year. But in the meantime, you do not have to sit still. By carrying out small, sustainable actions, you can reduce your monthly energy bill by 10 to 20 per cent. At least according to Kornelis Blok, professor of energy system analysis at Technical University Delft.

Saving energy: small adjustments

Blok emphasizes that when saving energy, you have to look at both your building and your daily habits. “Replace old lamps with LED lighting and, if possible, work together with your colleagues in one room, instead of divided across a building.” He advises entrepreneurs to check their workplace for the following points:

  • Use time switches on power sockets.
  • Only heat and light areas where people are working and try to work in one room where possible.
  • After closing time, turn off all lighting and heating that you are not using.
  • Use draft strips, radiator foil, door closers, and other insulation material. For example, you can insulate heating pipes and tubes.
  • Check whether machines and installations, such as the ventilation, can be switched off at night or can be adjusted to a more economical setting.

Close the door

The INretail industry organisation launched the ‘Close the door’ campaign, calling on retailers to keep their doors closed in order to save energy. If the heating is on inside and you keep the outside door closed, you can save your business an estimated 30% on energy costs. Various INretail tests show that customers do not walk away just because they see a closed door.

“You cannot win back the enormous price increase by only closing the door”, Blok says, putting this into perspective. “But every saving is worth it. Because saving energy is not only good for your wallet, but also for the world.”

Start with sustainability

When is the best time to start with sustainability? “There is no clear-cut answer to that question,” explains Jan Willem Zwang, energy expert at Stratergy consultancy. “The turning point for sustainability does not exist: it depends, among other things, on the wallet of an entrepreneur: can you afford to spend money now? And of course, your energy consumption is also a factor. Bakers or entrepreneurs in the catering industry are large energy consumers and more sustainable business operations are a significant investment for them. That is a different situation than a self-employed professional who works from home.”

Sustainability as a solution

The energy crisis is a reason for many SMEs to accelerate their consideration of sustainable choices. Having your own solar panels or a heat pump make you less vulnerable as an entrepreneur when energy prices rise or the availability of natural gas is limited, says Zwang. And by insulating your property you can save an additional 30% on your energy bill. Also, by becoming more sustainable, you are prepared for the future, in which green adjustments will no longer be a free choice, but mandatory. 

Energy scan and energy adviser

An energy scan helps you to choose whether or not to take sustainability measures. In the Netherlands, several municipalities offer an energy scan for entrepreneurs. You can see what schemes are available for you on the website of your municipality.

You can also hire an energy adviser. This will help you determine which energy-saving measures suit your specific situation. “With the SVM scheme, you receive a subsidy for hiring an energy adviser,” Zwang offers as a tip.

Support for entrepreneurs

The government offers various support schemes to help entrepreneurs with their high energy bills. The government is also helping entrepreneurs to become more sustainable. Because the more sustainable your company is, the less energy you consume and the less dependent you are on price fluctuations on the energy market. Check which subsidy schemes and tax benefits you can use to go green.