My success with the Smarter Choices Programme

My success with the Smarter Choices Programme

James Kirkwood has been doing energy surveys, including DECs, EPCs and ESOS, for over 6 years. He’s worked in the environment sector for over 12 years, and has been dubbed the ‘No 1 advocate’’ for Smarter Choices due to his close involvement with the pilot research scheme and for demonstrating how it can work for the mutual benefit of assessors and SMEs. Here’s how he found the process…

First of all, what is Smarter Choices?

Smarter Choices is about boosting access to energy efficiency improvements for SMEs. It's funded by government to develop new tools and models into a single online platform that provides businesses with a hassle-free energy saving solution. The pilot is open to SME’s with annual energy bills of >£20K.

To find out if they’re eligible we do an initial audit and pass the results to the Smarter Choices Team.

Do you get paid?

Yes. You get *£500 for each referral of an eligible SME and a further fee to complete the assessment.

*Please see terms and conditons.

How did you get involved in Smarter Choices?

I got an email from Josh (Elmhurst’s NDEA Team Leader) and the idea appealed. I already do audits for businesses and just recently I’ve been doing them for ESOS (the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme).

I thought it was interesting because SMEs tend to miss out on government policies and funding, so it’s an area that rarely been explored.

There was a virtual meeting between all the interested assessors, Chris Ricketts from Elmhurst Energy Consultancy and David Weatherall from Future Climate. That was useful to get an overview of the scheme and I sent them my thoughts after the session. Chris told me to get in touch and to send over the details of businesses I thought would be suitable.

What's the process?

The process is pretty good and it helps that Chris is the go-between with me and the client. It goes as follows:

  1. I pass my contact to Chris and David who explain the process to the client
  2. If it’s suitable then they let me know and I arrange a suitable time and date to perform a site visit with the client.
  3. Once I’ve done the visit and written up the report, I send it to Chris and David to proofread and check.
  4. Once the amendments have been made, I send the report to the client and, if appropriate, tell them we think there are opportunities to get finance for certain energy efficiency measures.

How receptive have they been?

Most contacts are really on board. We’re not having to sell the service because they’ve already been contacted by Chris and David who’ve talked them through the scheme.

The prospect of receiving a free assessment to a business and access to financing routes  is a massive draw. At the end of the day, most businesses aren’t interested in saving carbon and efficiencies– they’re interested in their bottom line and how to save money.

Although… obviously there are commercial benefits if they are looking to supply a company with carbon reduction commitments. That would put them in a favourable position. The feedback has been good as well. Most have appreciated getting the 2 page headline document and report.

Would you recommend the scheme?

Definitely. I’ve done 2 audits so far and I’ve got another 2 lined up.

I think the scheme’s got the potential to grow so I feel like it could open up a lot of opportunities

Find out more

To find out more about the Smarter Choices Programme including how to take part, email:


Article published 11/11/2020

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