Businesses take action on energy costs

The second Ulster Bank Business Confidence Survey, monitoring sentiment among small and medium companies across the country, has found that in the last year almost one in two businesses (48 percent) have introduced measures to tackle the growing burden of energy costs and three in five businesses (62 percent) have introduced measures to tackle waste costs. Just over one in five (12 percent) of businesses are also now using renewable sources of energy. These figures represent a significant increase in the number of companies who have taken proactive steps to reduce energy and waste costs since the first survey was carried out in April 2007. At that time, 39 percent had implemented programmes to reduce energy costs and 45 percent had introduced measures to reduce waste costs. The second wave of research was carried out for Ulster Bank by Amárach Research in December 2007. Over 800 businesses across Ireland were asked if they were concerned about energy and waste costs and whether or not they had implemented policies to reduce these costs. Of the 48 percent of businesses who have taken steps to reduce energy costs, the two most popular energy saving tactics are the introduction of lower energy consuming fittings and technology and energy awareness campaigns. When it comes to tackling waste costs, the main tactic by 62 percent of businesses has been the introduction of a waste and recycling campaign. The survey also recorded a corresponding drop in concern among small businesses over the impact energy and waste costs are having on their companies.  A total of 17 percent of businesses are very worried, 16 percent are somehow worried, 31 percent are a little worried and only 30 percent are not worried at all. At a regional level, the survey found that a considerable variation exists in tackling energy and waste costs. Companies in Dublin and the Mid-East (Kildare, Laois and Westmeath) were more likely to have introduced energy reducing policies. (62% and 52% respectively) and companies in the Border (Donegal, Louth, Monaghan, Sligo and Leitrim) region, at 38% were least likely, just behind companies in the South-East (Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny) at 44%.