Businesses in County Durham could save thousands of pounds on their energy bills each year by taking advantage of an energy saving advice scheme.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the county have until the beginning of September this year to apply forfully-funded, impartial guidance on making savings to their energy use via the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP).

So far, since BEEP was launched two years ago, the project has supported 200 businesses, sharing personalised advice and funding support, helping SMEs to make real financial savings on their utility bills.

As a result of the project, some SMEs have received grant funding towards the cost of installing more efficient equipment and lighting into their businesses.

However, companies themselves have also invested money to improve their energy use, investing a total of £350,000 in new technologies.

Among the businesses to have benefited is Crystel Beauty in Consett, which has converted its heating system from electric to gas with the help of a BEEP grant. Owner Tracy Young was faced with big energy bills during the winter months because her heating was provided through costly electric heaters.

After receiving an audit from BEEP, she realised she could make substantial savings each year by extending the heating system from the barbers next door, which she also managed, and installing LED lighting.

Changing to gas central heating from electrical heaters has made a huge difference.

“The salon is more comfortable for clients having treatments in a warmer environment,” said Tracy. “Working with the BEEP team was simple and straight forward, and the grant was paid promptly…which is always welcome.

“The salon is much warmer and more comfortable and the changes are expected to save me money, which is great. The whole process has been quick and smooth.”

Peterlee Glass (PLG) also saw a big difference after enlisting the support of BEEP.

Following advice and financial support from BEEP, the company installed LED lighting, improved the heating system and installed new fans to the main factory area, reducing its energy use by about 50%, resulting in big financial savings.

It also received a grant of £9,808 towards the cost of the improvements.

Managing Director Graeme Hawes said: “The process was clear and straightforward, even the paperwork was simple. The support we’ve received from the BEEP team has been excellent. They have helped us make sustainable financial savings.”

Other businesses that have taken advantage of BEEP include Dyer Engineering, Castle Eden Brewery, Bishop Auckland Football Club, A-Tech Industries, Prospect Business Park, Sotech and The Big Club in Newton Aycliffe.

Calum Baker, Business Energy Efficiency Manager for BEEP, urged SMEs to get in touch to arrange a visit before September this year, promising they would find the process quick and easy to manage.

“Since BEEP was launched in 2016, we have helped 200 SMEs improve their energy efficiency, which has not only saved them thousands of pounds but has actually improved working conditions in many instances,” said Calum.

“For example, many employees, such as those at A-Tech Industries in Newton Aycliffe, have said their working environment has vastly improved because of new lighting.

“We believe we can make improvements for everyone, and for those companies that invest financially themselves in new energy efficient technology, they will likely recoup any investment within a relatively short period.

“We urge businesses to get in touch with us. They have nothing to lose.”

The deadline for applications is September 1 this year.