Latest figures from British Gas have shown that British businesses are spending up to £1.00 in every £2.00 of their electricity bills on powering their business when staff have left for the day.

Data from over 6,000 smart meter readings show that 46% of business electricity use happens outside of the traditional business hours of 8.00 am and 6.00pm.

Common examples of unnecessary electricity that businesses aren’t aware they even use include lighting car parks at the weekend when no one is at work, pubs keeping fruit machines switched on 24 hours a day every day of the year, retail units in shopping centres keeping display lights on when the centre is closed and vending machines left switched on in offices overnight and at weekends.

The first step for businesses to cut their energy use is to understand when and why they use electricity. Simply switching off car parking lights at the weekend when they aren’t needed could save a British Gas customer £1,200 on their annual electricity bill.

To help put businesses in control of their energy use and therefore costs, British Gas has launched a new service – Business Energy Insight to show businesses how, when and where they are using electricity and proactively help them to save money through energy efficiency measures.

Dawn Ryan, from The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), was one of 100 customers who trialled the service to help British Gas make sure it worked best for businesses. ALCS began using Business Energy Insight in 2011, and with the support of its account manager’s energy efficiency expertise, has nearly halved its electricity bill.

Ryan commented, “Managing our costs has been our number one priority since the economic downturn. But before signing up to the trial, I had no idea of the amount of money I was wasting by not paying closer attention to my electricity bills. Business Energy Insight has opened my eyes to this. Now I’m working with my account manager Dom Stanford to take steps to reduce the amount of money I use on things like heating and other electrical appliances when they’re not being used. For example, we identified a particularly energy intensive piece of equipment that was needlessly using a lot of power. By addressing this, we saved a £9,000 over the course of the year. It’s making a real difference to the business as we can invest these savings elsewhere.”

The Business Energy Insight service has been created in response to findings from customer feedback, including from the British Gas 1,000 strong business customer panel. The panel has called on the company to provide accurate bills and help businesses bring down their energy costs.

By signing up to Business Energy Insight, businesses will have a smart meter installed on their premises, 24 hour access to an online dashboard showing hourly, daily, weekly and monthly electricity usage, and support from over 100 account executives specifically trained to help customers implement energy saving measures.

James Caan, entrepreneur, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Private Equity and spokesperson for small and medium enterprise businesses said, “In this testing climate, our economic growth is dependent on businesses finding the money and time to invest in new growth opportunities. But the rising operational costs of running a business are acting as a major barrier to this. By using a service like Business Energy Insight to understand energy usage and take steps to reduce it, businesses can free up vital capital to invest in new ventures that can contribute to their future success.”

Marc England, managing director of SME Energy, British Gas Business, added, “Small and Medium sized businesses are the backbone of the UK. They tell us that reducing their costs is essential to competing in a challenging economy. However, many don’t understand their electricity costs, and how they could reduce them. Business Energy Insight has been designed by businesses for businesses to provide our customers more accurate bills and the insight to reduce their costs and improve their competitiveness.”