Middlesbrough-based furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse has teamed up with Newcastle energy consultancy Orchard Energy as it embarks on a nationwide initiative to improve energy efficiency at each of its eight UK stores.

Rising overheads have prompted the company to look at a range of measures including meter downgrading, forward purchasing of energy and microgeneration.

Vince Lithgo, operations manager at Barker and Stonehouse said the efficiency drive was designed to counteract the rising cost of business overheads, particularly energy bills.

“Businesses aren’t immune from the rising energy costs that are hitting domestic users at the moment and we’re determined to find ways to reduce the impact without passing the cost on to our customers,” said Lithgo.

The independent family run firm has been working with Orchard Energy to streamline energy contract renewals at each site and negotiate with suppliers.

“The measures are helping us manage costs and protect our budgets from gas and electricity price fluctuations in what is currently a very volatile energy market,” said Lithgo.

“We are now working with Orchard on other efficiency measures including meter downgrading and as a business we’re looking into green alternatives such as solar power.”

Peter Bicchiri, of Orchard Energy, said multiple site retailers often spent too much on energy simply by having the wrong size of meter fitted.

“Retail sites commonly have half hourly metres which are bigger and more expensive than they need,” he explained.

“We’ve already completed meter downgrades at some Barker and Stonehouse sites and at others we have been able to cap gas meters to keep down costs.”