In this blog, we'll explore seven practical tips to help charities and social enterprises keep energy costs down. 

It’s not uncommon for charities and social enterprises to operate on tight budgets, and now as many strive for financial resilience, it’s crucial to find ways to minimise expenses. Set against the backdrop of the Cost of Living Crisis and crippling energy costs experienced last year, one area where organisations could save some money is through careful management of energy consumption. Our recent survey cemented this, with more than 80% of respondents highlighting that they’re interested in exploring measures to reduce energy costs. 

By adopting energy-efficient practices, charities and social enterprises can redirect funds towards their core missions, increasing the overall impact they deliver to the communities they serve.  

In this blog, we'll explore seven practical tips to help charities and social enterprises keep energy costs down. 

1. Do an Energy Audit 

Understanding where your organisation uses energy and how certain activities might be ramping up prices more than others is a good place to start. An audit enables you to flag areas of high consumption and suggest ‘quick-wins’ in terms of opportunities for improvement. Many mainstream suppliers offer audits for free to help not-for-profit organisations and you can use these results as evidence for any changes to the day-to-day business operation required.   

Check out Utility Aid or ask your local CVS or Membership body to signpost you to someone that can help.   

2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting  

If you haven’t already, replace bulbs with energy efficient LED or CFL bulbs. The initial cost is likely to look like £15-20, but you could save as much as £13 per bulb replaced. These alternatives will not only help you to save on bills, but also have a longer shelf-life, reducing any future replacement costs. In addition, occupancy sensors that automatically turn off when no movement is detected are an affordable way to help to keep costs down this winter and beyond.  

More help on this via this guide to energy efficient lighting from Energy Saving Trust.  

3. Sealing leaks and insulation  

Charities and community organisations in particular often operate from older, historic buildings or community assets, which as a result are more susceptible to draughts, leaks and lack of insulation. This is particularly problematic for those serving more vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly.  

Sealing any gaps in windows and doors and opting for thick curtains / draught excluders can be a cost-friendly measure of reducing any heat loss and will help to prevent energy wastage.  

4. Switch to renewable energy sources  

Thinking about investing in a longer-term solution to energy resilience? Consider switching to renewable energy measures such as insulation, heat pumps or energy storage batteries to futureproof your organisation and help to keep any unexpected cost increases at bay. Others may wish to look at this on a larger scale, such as the installation of solar panels and wind turbines.  

Learn more about how you can use social investment to support your switch to renewable energy sources via our Energy Resilience Hub.    

5. Opt for a smart meter  

Many energy providers are now offering smart meters as part of their service offering, enabling you to track your consumption in real time. For housing providers, it’s also a fantastic way of supporting your tenants in keeping daily costs low, while contributing to more sustainable practices moving forward.  

The data this provides can also help you to detect anomalies and make informed decisions on how your current activity is affecting the price of your bills and, crucially, and changes to business-as-usual that might help you to save on costs.

6. Keep appliances up to date 

Older buildings are also more likely to feature outdated appliances and equipment that are not as energy efficient as their modern counterparts. Ensure regular maintenance to keep them operating at the optimal level and invest in more environmentally-friendly options where possible.   

7. Join energy efficiency programs 

There is support out there. Do your research on government or utility-sponsored energy efficiency programmes that might be applicable for your organisation and build these into your overall approach.  

Many offer incentives or rebates for adopting a more plant-friendly approach to your operations and can sometimes help to offset any initial costs. 

Charities and social enterprises can make a substantial impact on lowering their monthly costs by adopting these energy-saving practices. In some cases, opting for social investment to support your energy resilience can mean spending money to save money, and you can explore our many Case studies to see how many organisations in the sector have done just that.  

In addition, a greener, more climate-friendly approach also aligns with the mission of more sustainable practices, demonstrating commitment to environmental responsibility, for which many organisations in this sector are leading the way.  

Visit the Good Finance Energy Resilience Hub for more information on how to use social investment to improve your energy resilience.