A new Government scheme to get businesses to cut their emissions could spell the end of the all-night bright lights of the local high street, the Environment Agency (EA) has predicted.
Flat screen TVs, illuminated signs and brightly-lit window displays could all be switched off - instead of being left on overnight when shops and businesses are closed - as companies respond to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme.
The scheme will require businesses to record their energy use and from next year, pay by the tonne for the carbon they emit.
Around 5,000 firms which use more than 6,000MWh of electricity a year - equivalent to bills of around £500,000 - must register for the energy efficiency scheme between April and September this year.
When the scheme is up and running, the Environment Agency will publish an annual league table of the best and worst performers under the CRC - with the top energy savers getting financial rewards and the worst companies being penalised.
With major supermarkets, clothing retailers and restaurant chains among the big energy users who will have to take part, the days of leaving doors open to encourage customers in and leaving lights on all night could be over, the EA said.
By improving energy efficiency, the CRC could achieve emissions reductions of 11.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020, save participants money and boost green sectors of the economy, the agency said.
Tony Grayling, head of climate change and sustainable development at the Environment Agency, said: "The CRC is an opportunity for large businesses and public sector organisations to play their part in reducing dangerous carbon emissions.
"But for businesses the main motivation to cut their energy use will be their bottom line. By cutting energy use businesses stand to benefit from lower energy bills, and could be financially rewarded through the CRC if they perform well in the energy efficiency stakes."
And he said: "Carbon reduction needn't be complicated or expensive; in most cases better management of heating, air conditioning and lighting will deliver immediate energy and cost savings."