Most New Zealand companies are doing little to curb energy waste despite the many benefits of reducing energy costs, new research shows.
A study by Synovate commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) shows a wide disparity between industry sectors on energy management. Overall, only 23% of businesses are committed to energy management. A further 16% are open to managing energy, but the majority are either ambivalent (39%) or say energy is not a priority (21%).
EECA chief executive Mike Underhill said: “Energy savings go straight to the bottom line, so help make companies more competitive. Reducing energy spend helps to increase productivity and profitability, and a good record on energy efficiency can help build brand and reputation. Nearly eight out of ten companies say managing energy is important, but it’s being shelved because other concerns are more pressing. Our job is to convince businesses that taking energy seriously, will boost their performance in other critical areas.”
More than 580 companies across a range of sectors were surveyed. The construction industry was most resistant to managing energy better with only 11% of companies either committed or open to the concept – followed by health and community services (12%) and finance and business services (14%).
The sectors most likely to be committed to managing energy or open to doing more, are transport and storage (77%), government and education (76%) and tourism and hospitality (62%). Businesses in the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors were also mostly supportive with 68% either already committed or open to managing energy better – although the low sample size in the primary sector makes that figure less meaningful. The biggest reported barriers across all sectors to doing more on energy management are time (26%), financial (18%) and knowledge (17%).
According to the research, the most critical priorities for businesses are customer and supplier relationships (97%), followed by brand and reputation (94%) and productivity (88%). Also rated as critical were competitiveness (87%), commitment to community (87%), business growth and sustainability (86%), corporate culture (85%) and profitability (84%).
Energy management was rated as a critical priority by 79% of businesses.
EECA estimates there is potential for billions of dollars in savings in the New Zealand business sector, through easy efficiency measures to cut energy waste. Many of the savings are achievable in five key areas that currently use 85% of businesses’ energy: commercial buildings, transport, heavy industry, food processing and tourism / hospitality.
Many companies can save 10% of their energy through no-cost changes in energy use and behaviour, and a further 10% through low-cost actions such as tuning and maintaining plant, equipment and vehicles. Investing in energy-efficient technology takes the largest commitment and capital outlay, but can deliver payback in less than two years.
EECA provides a range of services to help businesses manage energy – including account management; grants for energy audits, wood energy or innovative technology; and a range of workshops and advisory services.
Mr Underhill said the research findings would be used to help target EECA’s advice and services so they best meet the needs of business.