Businesses in the West Midlands are haemorrhaging more than £550,000 a day because of poor fuel efficiency, according to the Carbon Trust.
And energy efficiency is now the top cost-cutting priority for businesses looking to combat the impact of a potential economic slowdown, it claimed.
More than half of businesses surveyed by the Trust said they now rank encouraging energy efficiency ahead of recruitment freezes, redundancies, freezing salaries or giving below inflation pay rises as a potential cost-saving measure.
The Carbon Trust estimates organisations in the region could reduce their annual carbon emissions by 1.9 million tonnes simply through cost effective energy efficiency measures – equivalent to almost twice the annual carbon emissions of Coventry.
This would reduce their collective energy bill by around £205 million.
Hugh Jones, solutions director at the Carbon Trust, said: “Our research shows that energy efficiency measures, not job cuts or salary freezes, are the cost-cutting steps businesses are considering first during this economically challenging time. It’s an encouraging sign that wise companies are realising that cutting carbon and being green is the easiest way to make a business lean during the credit crunch.
“Our new statistics provide stark evidence that if companies are starting to feel the bite from the economic downturn, the first place to look for cost savings should be their energy bill. There are literally millions of pounds going out of the window every day.
“We’re talking about money that could be banked simply by making quick and easy changes such as encouraging staff to turn off computers and lights, turning down the heating, or maintaining equipment properly.”
Carbon emissions are the key cause of climate change, and business is responsible for around 40 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, the Carbon Trust said.
Large companies in particular appear to be ready to take action, with a third of bosses of large UK companies claiming carbon reduction has gone up their agenda in the last six months.