Today, Friday 22nd April 2022, is Earth Day. Dating back to 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. By rallying the efforts of businesses, governments, and individual citizens around a particular date the organisation aims to stimulate real action and longer-term change.
This Earth Day’s focus is the need to ‘Invest in our planet’. There is no getting away from the fact that making significant progress towards a net-zero future will not happen without spending money. However, in many cases it is the need for expenditure that delays or prevents investment in renewable energy. As a business owner in the present economic climate, reducing carbon emissions may feel like a non-essential project, or something that can be dealt with later when you have more cash in the bank.
In reality, it is possible to take that first step towards a greener business without parting with a large amount of cash. Renewable technology that will reduce your business’ carbon emissions and running costs can be financed, spreading the cost of the investment over time. In many cases, businesses are able to cover their finance repayments with the money they save on their energy costs. We know that energy prices are rising steeply and likely to continue to do so, squeezing businesses of all sizes of their profit margins.
Here we outline some of the most effective ways that you can invest in both the future of your business and our planet.
Install LED lighting
Switching to LED lighting in your business could reduce your carbon footprint and save you a significant amount of money on your energy costs. LEDs (light emitting diodes) use less energy, last longer, and produce a better quality of light than traditional lighting. In fact, LED lighting could reduce your annual energy consumption by at least 50%.
- LED lighting is significantly more energy-efficient than many traditional lighting systems as it produces more ‘useful lumens’, i.e., less of the energy consumed by the light is wasted through heat dissipation. This makes LED lighting at least 50% cheaper to power, depending on the type of lighting being replaced.
- LED lighting uses electricity more efficiently, so your business’ energy consumption and therefore your impact on the planet should reduce by at least 50%.
- LED lighting lasts longer. After 25,000 hours traditional lighting will be operating at less than 80% of its potential output. An LED lightbulb lasts, on average, for 50,000 hours and, if used efficiently, for as long as 100,000 hours.
- LED lights do not include mercury like fluorescent and mercury vapor lights, so they do not require the same maintenance or management at the end of their life.
- LED lighting provides a better quality of light providing improved visibility and colour clarity, safer working conditions for staff and improved security and CCTV footage.
Install solar panels
Solar panels convert natural energy from sunlight into free electricity for your business. Unlike electricity generated through traditional methods, solar electricity is carbon free. This not only reduces electricity costs in the present but will also protect businesses from future rises in energy prices.
Commercial solar panels are installed on the roof of a business’ premises where they will exposed to as much sunlight as possible. The cells in the panels capture the sun’s energy which is then converted to usable electricity for the business to use. As most businesses carry out their activities during the day, which is when solar panels will produce the most energy, the resulting electricity savings can be significant.
There are several advantages for businesses when it comes to solar panels, including but not limited to:
- Considerable electricity cost savings
- Financial stability and energy security/flexibility
- A greatly reduced carbon footprint
- Improved public perception of your business through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Switch to an electric vehicle fleet
If your business has a fleet of petrol or diesel vehicles, switching to an electric fleet could slash your emissions overnight. Electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions and are usually significantly cheaper to run than their fossil fuel counterparts.
Electric vehicles are better for the planet
Vehicles that run on fossil fuels like petrol and diesel emit carbon from their exhaust, a major greenhouse gas that is causing our planet’s climate to change, as well as air pollutants like sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) – all of which all harmful to our health. The combustion engines in petrol and diesel cars are also responsible for a lot of noise pollution. EVs run on batteries rather than fossil fuels which means they don’t emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the air from their tailpipes (a major cause of climate change). They are also much quieter when running which helps to reduce the noise pollution on our roads.
Electric vehicles are the future
The UK government has a target for all new cars and vans sold in the UK to be electric by 2030, and cities are beginning implementing Clean Air Zones; vehicles exceeding emissions standards will have to pay to travel through a Clean Air Zone. Bath and Birmingham have already established Clean Air Zones, with many more set to follow suit in the coming years.
Electric vehicles are cheaper to run
Fuel is typically the second biggest vehicle-related cost for businesses and can account for as much as 25%-30% of fleet expenditure. Fuelling an electric car can cost up to 90% less than fuelling a traditional car as you can fuel an electric car from just 2p per mile. This is much cheaper than the 10-12p per mile it costs to fuel a petrol or diesel car.
Electric vehicles are exempt from first year road tax and may unlock other tax benefits
Vehicle road tax is based on carbon dioxide emissions, and as fully electric cars do not produce emissions, they are exempt from first year road tax. Some plug-in hybrid electric cars with CO2 emissions less than 100 g/km, may need to pay anything from £0-£135 per year depending on the levels of CO2 emissions.
Drivers of fully electric company vehicles incur a Benefit In Kind tax of 1% in 2021-22 rising to 2% in 2022-23. Vehicles with emissions of less than 50g/km are also eligible for 100% first year capital allowances. This means with electric cars, you can deduct the full cost from your pre-tax profits. On a car costing around £40,000 this could amount to a tax relief of £7,600 in the first year.
Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain
Electric vehicle engines have just three main components – the on-board charger, inverter and motor – and far fewer moving parts. This means that Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs for plug-in vehicles can be significantly lower than internal combustion engines.
Electric vehicles are exempt from congestion charges
If your vehicles are travelling in areas where Clean Air Zones exist or are about to be introduced, then this also adds to the savings of going electric.
Ready to invest in our planet?
Whether you are seriously considering an investment in renewable technology or not, other businesses of just about every size and in every sector are taking action now. Just recently the technology giant Intel has pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its global operations by 2040, through renewable energy procurement, green chemical trials and a $300m energy savings investment. Following on from the launch of an all-electric refrigerated trailer at Sainsbury’s, Aldi UK has now begun trials of a similar vehicle fitted with kinetic energy generation.
At Bluestone Leasing, we are committed to helping UK businesses to cut their carbon footprint by making smart investments now and in the future. If you would like to spread the cost of solar panels, electric vehicles and charge points, LED lighting, or any other renewable assets that will reduce your carbon footprint, get in touch today.