There are two main ways in which you can reduce what your business spends on energy: by finding a better deal, e.g. using business energy comparison sites, and by reducing your overall energy consumption.
Finding a better deal
In the UK, the six main gas and electricity suppliers – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy – provide over 90% of the energy for commercial customers, but there are dozens of other independent and specialist suppliers who offer a range of tariffs. Substantial savings can be made simply by shopping around. Using an independent business energy comparison site saves you the time and effort of contacting individual suppliers.
Commercial energy contracts tend to be fixed, so your business is tied in for the duration regardless of whether prices go up or down. It is therefore important to research alternatives in plenty of time and to make the shift before your energy supplier rolls you over into a new contract that will most likely not offer your business best value.
With notice periods varying between 30 and 90 days, your first step should be to check when your existing contract is due to end. In order to allow time for a changeover, it is worth comparing energy rates around one month before your notice period comes due.
Before you go online to use a business energy comparison website, make sure you have your meter number (sometimes called the ‘Mpan’ number) and consumption data or a recent invoice to hand. This information should help you get the most accurate pricing for your business gas and electricity.
Two further things to look out for are discounts based on the services you use and the way you pay your bills. As with domestic supplies, the ‘big six’ and other suppliers will usually offer a dual fuel discount if you take both gas and electricity from them. Further savings may be available, especially for small businesses, if you pay by Direct Debit or opt for online billing via e-mail or the web.
Reducing energy consumption
Of course, finding a lower tariff is just one side of the equation; the other is simply to use less gas and electricity. Taking steps to reduce consumption and improve energy efficiency makes good business sense.
These measures need not cost a great deal. If properly communicated to all your staff, even quite simple changes can make a contribution:
- Use energy saving light bulbs
- Switch off lights when no-one is in the room
- Keep doors closed
- Turn equipment off at the mains, don’t leave it on standby
- Turn the thermostat down by 1 degree
For small and medium businesses looking to make more significant savings, the Carbon Trust provides help in financing and implementing energy efficiency projects. Their website also offers sector-specific guides and expert advice on reducing energy costs. Finally, your local Business Link can provide information on energy schemes such as Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) which provides tax allowances for energy saving products.