Companies spending £1bn a year on energy that is wasted

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British firms could help the environment and increase their profits by saving the £1bn a year they waste on energy, according to a government watchdog.

The Carbon Trust, a government-funded environmental group, said UK businesses spent more than £6bn a year on energy - but £1bn was wasted because of a failure to cut carbon emissions. Simple measures such as lowering the office temperature by one degree centigrade would reduce the typical business's heating bill by up to 8 per cent a year, it said., and turning off unnecessary office lights could reduce lighting bills by up to 19 per cent. If each worker switched off their computer and monitor every night they would save enough energy to make more than 21,000 cups of coffee over a year, the watchdog calculated.

Hugh Jones of the Carbon Trust said: "The new year is traditionally a time to take stock of excess - and energy use is one area where businesses are really overdoing it. From our work with thousands of UK companies, we know that long-term energy bill savings of up to 30 per cent can be achieved in most sectors - savings that go straight to the bottom line.

"Simple steps like switching off unnecessary lights and turning down heating by just one degree need not cost businesses a penny - but can save pounds if maintained over the course of a year. We urge as many companies as possible to make 2006 the year they take control of their energy bills."

Businesses were also urged to replace inefficient fluorescent lighting tubes with new slimline tubes. Simply switching standard bulbs for low-energy replacements would save £6.50 a year per bulb.

The Carbon Trust is an independent company funded by government which works with businesses and the public sector to cut carbon emissions and develop commercial low-carbon technologies.

The 2003 energy White Paper set an aspiration for the UK to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent and create a low-carbon economy by 2050. Businesses are responsible for half of all carbon emissions.

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