We joined the Mayor as he helps Bristol firms reduce energy bills - and it includes changing lightbulbs

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The aim is to help small businesses save £2,000-plus from their sky-high energy bills

Metro Mayor Dan Norris and a team of ‘green’ experts visited Lawrence Weston shops and small businesses in a new drive to help them reduce their energy bills.

The ‘Energy Bills Blitz’ from West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is a new drive to support local businesses who have never previously received assistance from regional government. The aim is to help them save £2,000-plus from their sky-high energy bills and slash carbon emissions.

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Visiting shops on Ridingleaze in Lawrence Weston, Mr Norris and technical advisors from WECA spoke to business owners at a time when local firms are braced for another steep increase in energy bills as the government’s support for non-household energy bills falls away, and many fixed rate deals come to an end.

The first step is a free ‘Carbon Survey’ which will suggest helpful modifications such as changing the lighting in a shop or fitting more energy efficient equipment for which grants are being made available. The aim is for an average shop to save £2,000 a year, every year.

Businesses to receive a visit from Mr Norris and his ‘green experts’ included Smilers Café, Heads & Tails and Lawrence Weston Fish Bar.

Talking to owners, they pointed out basic energy-saving tips such as keeping front doors closed, reducing the number of fridges being used and simply switching old lightbulbs for LEDs.

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As well as a carbon survey, businesses might also get access to Green Business Grants. Most of the businesses seemed interested in what the mayor and his team had to say, although many were in fixed rate deals with energy companies.

At Heads & Tails, a pet shop and dog grooming salon, owner Tor said: “My bill has tripled but I’ve just signed a new deal for a year.

“I was interested in what they had to say but we use specific equipment for drying the dogs so I’m not really sure how we can change things to be honest.”

Mr Norris told Bristol World that Lawrence Weston shops have faced a tough couple of years but that he is concerned that, historically, only those ‘in the know’ get support from the West of England Combined Authority.

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“I want to change that. It’s no use just having grant schemes that are online and only known to some. Some people not only have never before considered this support, but some don’t have the faintest idea it existed in the first place.

“It’s a very tough time for these kinds of businesses, these are not the big chains, these are small enterprises struggling in a particularly challenging time.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris and his ‘green’ experts visit shopkeepers in Lawrence Weston to talk about energy usageMetro Mayor Dan Norris and his ‘green’ experts visit shopkeepers in Lawrence Weston to talk about energy usage
Metro Mayor Dan Norris and his ‘green’ experts visit shopkeepers in Lawrence Weston to talk about energy usage | WECA

“What you can see if you go into some of these shops is they’ve taken lightbulbs out to reduce energy costs, some of them have got four fridges when they could have two, some have the doors wide open all day.

“There’s a whole range of ways that they are using too much electricity and their bills are so high, in some cases triple what they were.

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“In the fish and shop, for example, the owner told me he has had to reduce his opening hours - he opens up and shuts as quickly as he can just to save energy.

“These are businesses working very hard just to survive and they haven’t got time to spend all day looking online for help. I want to look them in the eye and hear about their bills, hear how it’s impacting on the business and see if they want an assessment as we might be able to support them with their costs and might be able to reduce their bills by half.

“If they’re paying £500 and we can cut it by half, it won’t take long before they’re ahead and that could be the big difference between survival or going under.”

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