How much do power cuts affect businesses?

When a power cut occurred in north Lancashire on June 21st 2017, close to 63,000 properties were left without any power. On June 28th, a power-related issue gave officials at Edinburgh Airport no choice but to delay a number of flights. With more than 170,000km of electricity cables now needing to be maintained across the UK, power outrages will be something that those throughout the nation will need to put up with from time to time.

However, businesses can lose significant amounts of money whenever they encounter a power cut at their firms — as gas cylinders stockist, Flogas, highlights in this article:

Ways power outages can happen

There are so many scenarios which can result in a blackout occurring. Harsh weather conditions are one — in January 2015, one million people across North Eastern Scotland were left without power as a storm struck the power lines. Similarly, in Florida following Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction, 4.4 million homeowners were left without electricity.

The UK is also encountering a growing gap in its electricity supply. Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said, “Under current [government] policy, it is almost impossible for UK electricity demand to be met by 2025,”. Alongside proposals to phase out coal-fired power and a lack of investment in national grid infrastructures, power failures and blackouts are expected to become more common.

At times, a power cut may be due to unusual circumstances. For instance, 1,000 homes in Somerset were once left without electricity when a squirrel bit through power cables in the region. It can depend on where you live as to how many times you’ll be left without power too — the South of England suffered the most blackouts in the UK in 2015 with 124 incidents.

During any one time, most power failures throughout the UK will only last for a few hours. However, there are instances of blackouts stretching across days and even weeks. Regardless of their cause or duration, they are inconvenient and can have detrimental effects on businesses.

The money lost by businesses due to power cuts

You are looking at an average time of 50 minutes for how long a power cut will last across the UK. This may not sound a lot, but with a single hour of downtime estimated to cost a small business £800 — it could be very damaging.

Higher losses will likely be felt by larger businesses, but these companies are expected to recover at a more rapid rate, as well. When Google lost its power in 2013, it experienced losses of £100,000 per minute!

Why do these losses occur? Not having access to electricity can mean that employees cannot communicate with customers and are therefore losing out on potential sales. For an ecommerce company, it doesn’t have access to its website to monitor sales and client requests. There is also the risk of losing unsaved material, which can be costly to small businesses.

Tips to prepare for a power cut

There is very little that can be done for controlling how a power failure happens. However, there are certain steps that small businesses can take to reduce the damage caused from a power cut.

One item that will be worth the investment is a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This allows a computer to keep running for a short while when the mains electricity has gone off. Often, a warning sign will come up to alert the user that a power cut has occurred — giving them time to save any unfinished work.

Another worthwhile purchase is a standalone generator. This can be used in emergencies for when power runs out, as it does not rely on the working of the grid electricity. If you are considering going off-grid with your power supplies, it is worth considering gas cylinders, too.

It’s not just about purchases that can prepare you for a power cut though, as drawing up a contingency plan is also recommended. This could be a way to inform customers that your power supply is down and you won’t be able to answer queries, which could be on a mobile device.