SMEs in Victoria have ranked high energy costs as the second biggest pressure on business viability, according to a survey published by Origin Energy this week.
The June study interviewed 300 SMEs across Victoria to collect data on 24 business-related issues including staff retention, changes to industrial relations and human resources laws, and the impact of the fluctuating Australian dollar.
The survey found that 58% of respondents see energy costs associated with operations as a common threat to their bottom line, trumped only by profitability and price concerns (62%).
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Just one third of those surveyed said they could accurately predict their next energy bill, while half of these respondents agreed that being able to predict their next bill would significantly help with budget planning and reducing the stress of unexpected outlays.
Origin Energy energy advisor Anne Armansin told SmartCompany energy is a concern for all of her customers and that while they know their business well, they can sometimes be unaware of the impact of appliances they might use such as heating and lighting.
“[SMEs] need to consider if their appliances are the most efficient things they can have,” says Armansin. “Do they leave lighting overnight? And is the equipment using energy when it is idle?”
“Energy efficient appliance technology is improving in leaps and bounds – lighting (LED) and air conditioning technology (invertor) – it would be beneficial for all clients to stay up to date,” she says.
“There is a lot of information out there that can start people on their journey to understand and take control of their energy use,” says Armansin.
“Once you have taken control of energy consumption and made energy decisions you can concentrate on getting back to your business and making some money,” she says.
Origin Energy has responded to the findings of the survey with the introduction of Online Energy Manager, an online tool to provide SMEs in Victoria with increased transparency and a greater understanding of their energy consumption and cost.
“It’s our hope that we’ll ease a bit of pressure for small and medium business by empowering them with information to manage energy usage and predict their energy bills,” said Origin Energy spokeswoman Rebekah O’Flaherty.