A step-by-step approach to SECR: How to prioritise energy efficiency action

If you’re required to report under the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) scheme, then you’ll understand how important it is to make ongoing energy efficiency improvements so you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability in your report. But there are so many ways in which you can improve your efficiency – from encouraging behaviour change in your employees to investing in a waste heat recovery system – that it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Any energy efficiency actions you take will give you more measures to include in your SECR report, and should help your business to reduce its costs and carbon emissions. But to get the most value out of your SECR reporting obligations, it’s crucial to carefully plan the actions your business should take in the short- and long-term. By putting practical plans in place for not just the year ahead, but also five to ten years ahead, you can ensure that your business makes steady progress towards its sustainability goals.

So, what should you consider when deciding which efficiency measures to put in place now, and which will come further down the line? Here’s our advice…

Where are your biggest areas for improvement?

Take a look at your energy consumption data to define the key areas that you need to focus on first. Using your data to inform your decisions is crucial, because it’s hard to know where you’re creating the most emissions without seeing the figures. By reviewing your data, you should be able to see where most of your emissions are coming from and act accordingly. Perhaps one of your sites is using lots more energy than the others, for example, and so you may need to encourage efficiency behaviours among your staff at that site. Or maybe your fleet is creating a substantial proportion of your emissions, so switching to electric vehicles could make a big difference to your overall carbon footprint. Once you’ve identified the areas that need the most improvement, you should prioritise action in these areas first as there may be ‘low-hanging fruit’. 

You may wish to consider which areas you’re required to report on under SECR here too. For example, if your business isn’t an unquoted company or an LLP, then reporting on your Scope 3 emissions isn’t mandatory, so you may want to focus on areas for improvement within your Scope 1 and 2 emissions instead. However, we would always recommend addressing your Scope 3 emissions as early as possible for your business, as even those businesses that aren’t currently obligated to report in this area are likely to be required to do so in the future. 

What’s feasible for your business? 

Once you’ve identified the areas you want to target first, you can start looking at the efficiency actions you can take to address these areas and considering what is feasible for your business. It’s vital to keep your own organisation’s requirements, sustainability goals and budget in mind whenever you’re assessing an energy efficiency solution. Your competitor may have made significant cost and carbon savings by putting a wind turbine on their site, for example, but if your sites are all city-based then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do the same. 

Of course, a key consideration is your organisation’s budget – which measures can you afford to take this year? If your budgets are currently stretched, you may need to prioritise smaller projects over the next few years, but you should also consider when you will have the upfront capital for larger projects. This may be a few years down the line, but by putting a longer-term plan in place you should be able to ensure that you are prepared to take larger, more expensive energy efficiency actions as soon as it’s practical for your organisation.  

Can you access any funding?

While you’re thinking about which projects you can fit within your budget, you should also look around for any funding that may be available for energy efficiency projects. If you can access funding, then you may find that you can implement more expensive projects sooner than you might think. It’s therefore important to look out for any new funding or grants for energy efficiency projects and review your plan for SECR measures if new funding becomes available. 

For instance, the Government is currently providing a new super-deduction allowance, which means that you could receive tax relief of up to 130% on new plant and machinery investments. ‘Plant and machinery’ means any items ‘that you keep to use in the business’, from solar panels to air conditioning and electrical systems. This super-deduction allowance is available until 31st March 2023, which means that you could make some substantial savings on any energy efficiency projects that are eligible for the allowance, and may therefore want to prioritise these projects over the next two years. To find out more about the measures that are eligible for the scheme, go to the Government website

Could you benefit from expert support?

The sheer amount of energy efficiency solutions available to businesses like yours means that there are plenty of opportunities to make improvements to include within your SECR report, but choosing the right solutions at the right time for your business can be daunting. You may therefore want to consider whether seeking expert support could help you to prioritise your energy efficiency actions, so you have plenty to include in your SECR reports now and in the future. 

At Inspired Energy, our SECR experts aren’t just here to help you to comply with your obligations and put together an accurate report – they can also support you in finding and implementing the most practical and beneficial energy efficiency actions to take for your business. They will use their specialist expertise and knowledge of your business to create well-informed recommendations for your business, and they will even support you in putting these measures into action. 

To find out more about how we can support your business with SECR, call us on 01772 689 250 or visit our SECR services page