British businesses and workers will waste £570 million this summer simply by failing to switch off lights, turn off computers at the end of the day and implement other energy saving tactics, according to a new survey.
The research by the Carbon Trust, which helps businesses become more energy efficient, has suggested that even in the summer months businesses waste 15 per cent of the total energy they pay for.
Wasted summer energy emitted more than eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to Birmingham's annual carbon emissions and enough to fill the new Wembley stadium a thousand times, it said.
As carbon emissions are the key cause of climate change, and business is responsible for up to 45 per cent of all carbon emissions in the UK, the Carbon Trust has urged all companies to act now to improve energy efficiency and reduce the cost of carbon.
Energy prices have soared in the past two years and are continuing to rise, damaging the bottom line and posing a serious threat to business competitiveness, added the trust.
The trust is encouraging businesses to seek help in cutting energy costs and carbon emissions ahead of the critical winter period.
Across manufacturing, including the food and drink and chemical sectors, the amount of energy spent is £1.8 billion, of which 12 per cent (£226 million) is wasted.
In the service sector, industries such as wholesale and retail and leisure are spending £1.6 billion, of which 19 per cent (£305 million) is wasted during the summer, it added.
Tom Delay, Carbon Trust chief executive, said: "British businesses are wasting millions on energy, hitting the environment and their bottom line.
"The sheer scale of the energy wasted is staggering and something businesses can no longer afford to ignore.
"What's more, consumers and shareholders alike are becoming more aware of a company's environmental record and this trend is only going to grow. Energy saving today is a no brainer for business and the environment," he added.
Its campaign has been backed by the government. Environment minister Ian Pearson said: "By working with the Carbon Trust, we can fully engage the power of business to help us tackle climate change.
"This campaign is timely as in the last few days this government has committed to making the government office estate carbon neutral by 2012, and to reduce government's total emissions from buildings by 30 per cent by 2020."
Michael Roberts, director business environment policy at the Confederation of British Industry, added: "Companies recognise the important role they have to play in reducing carbon emissions.
"Business has helped deliver the bulk of savings to date in the UK – but more can still be done to cut energy use by all sectors and all sizes of company.
"Cutting carbon emissions through energy efficiency means lower costs now and a more secure supply of energy in the future and the Carbon Trust can help businesses achieve this," he concluded.