Small businesses should ensure all electrical equipment is turned off rather than left on standby over the Christmas period to cut down ontheir energy bills.

According to research by the Carbon Trust, British businesses will waste £7m a day over the Christmas period on wasted energy,with most companies closing for at least four days over the festive period.

The Carbon Trust estimates the switching a photocopier off overnight would save enough energy to make 300 cups of tea, while small firms can save 10% on their bills by implementing better energy efficiency measures.

Business Link advises companies to ensure that staff switch off all equipment before leaving the building and gives the example of a Hampshire manufacturer which looked carefully at all the equipment being left on in itsoffices and was able to save £6,000 a year through a staff switch-off campaign.

"It's also a good idea to take the human element out of switching off," said Erica Russell, a sustainability adviser at Business Link. "Well-designed automated lighting controls can save 30 per cent on lighting costs. Make sure your heating doesn't come on when you're out and remember that for every one degree you reduce on the thermostat cuts your bill by as much as 10%."

Business Link offers the following tips to companies lookingto keep their energy costs under control in the current economic climate:

  • Encourage staff to turn off equipment when not in use: a single computer and monitor left on for 24 hours a day will cost £50 or morea year
  • Use stickers and posters to raise employee awareness of theimportance of energy efficiency, available from the Carbon Trust website
  • Switch lighting to energy-efficient bulbs and making themost of natural light
  • Control temperatures (hot and cold)
  • Maintain equipment properly. A regularly maintained boilercan save up to 10% on heating costs
  • Consider investing in new, more energy and CO2 efficiente quipment: check to see if you are eligible for an interest-free loan from theCarbon Trust
  • Check that you are on the right energy tariff and shop around between energy suppliers