Light bulbs

It’s time for an energy-efficiency revolution in the UK - and Britain’s retailers can lead the way.

After the manufacturing sector, retail is the single largest business consumer of energy in the UK, responsible for almost a fifth of the UK’s business carbon emissions. 

“Energy-efficiency doesn’t have to mean higher business costs”

Retailers have shown innovation and ambition to cut energy waste through energy efficiency. But becoming more energy-efficient doesn’t have to mean higher business costs. In fact, we’ve estimated that large businesses that carry out energy efficiency work as part of our latest initiative, the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), will take about £280m off energy bills in 2016 alone. 

Together with major retailers, such as Sainsbury’s, Boots and Marks & Spencer, as well as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) we set up a partnership - called the Retail Energy Efficiency Taskforce - to find out what’s stopping some retailers from moving beyond energy-efficient flagship stores to wider-scale rollouts. This is about cutting energy use and ultimately, energy bills - a win-win situation.

But it’s not just about big retailers. Smaller retail chains and businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, making up 99.8% of the UK’s businesses and employing 11 million enterprising and hardworking people. With rising energy costs, we know they can’t always afford a dedicated energy management team - that’s where the taskforce comes in.

From understanding your business’s energy bills, to exploring heating and cooling systems, or LED lighting systems, the taskforce is learning from large retailers’ experiences. They will also share practical advice for smaller retail chains on cutting back on energy use and bills each year. 

In October, the taskforce will offer free advice on how to slash energy use. We’re hosting workshops* in London on 16 October with experienced energy managers, which will be free and open to retailers. At this event we’ll also be launching the Green Retail app created by Resource Efficient Scotland, which you can download for free to get quick, practical day-to-day energy saving tips. 

We’ll also discuss the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, our new government policy to help businesses identify energy saving opportunities. The scheme, which is being rolled out across UK businesses by next year, will be mandatory for large organisations, but optional for smaller ones.

If you are unable to attend, information will be available online at What’s more, this autumn, the BRC will share an online information pack with our best tips and the estimated savings you can expect if you implement them. 

The energy challenges we face are better tackled together - the taskforce is one great example of this. It might be ambitious, but we’re confident that the UK can be a world leader in energy efficiency. Join us at the Retail Energy Efficiency Workshop next month and help us achieve this ambition. 

Amber Rudd is parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change

*Workshop details: Thursday 16 October 2014, from 09:30 to 17:00 (BST) at the Church House Conference Centre, Deans Yard, London SW1P 3NZ. Book your free place online at by searching “Reducing Waste Energy Use: A Retail Energy Management Workshop”.