ENERGY COSTS ACCOUNT for nine per cent of the overheads of small and medium businesses in Ireland, but one third don’t understand their bills.
The figures are carried in a new AIB-sponsored Amarach Research report on the level of energy efficiency in businesses.
The survey showed that SMEs in the manufacturing area spend, on average, €114,000 on energy bills every year, retailers spend €50,000 and other businesses spend €70,000.
More than 54 per cent of surveyed businesses expect those energy costs to rise over the next three years but few have ideas on how they will respond.
Over half the buildings SMEs operate in are 10-50 years old.
AIB added the survey to the announcement that they will make lending of €100 million available for SMEs to complete energy efficiency projects.
Ray O’Neill, the head of energy at AIB, told TheJournal.ie that some customers who apply for the loans could receive a 1.25 per cent discount on loans from the European Investment Bank.
He added that the lending was based on the report and that there was “huge potential” for SMEs to cut their spending on energy.
Ken Burke, the head of AIB Business Banking, said that the lending was part of a suite of €1 billion worth of lending the bank was to undertake.
He said that businesses could apply for the loans for an array of projects.
It covers everything from LED lighting, to heating systems and electric vehicles.
“It’s a broad branch. The discounted EIB funding is very significant.
“We’re also allowing payment holidays to match cashflow. So if an SME has heavy energy needs at a particular time, we will match the payments against that.”