By Kevan Enticott, owner of Perfect Clarity, an independent energy broker.
Many businesses use a large amount of gas and electricity. For a small business, this can mean a dent in profits if you don’t keep a close eye on your bills. I spend a lot of time working with businesses helping them to save money on their bills. Here are my seven top tips to becoming a greener business and saving money.
1. Make your staff energy champions
It’s easy for staff to forget how much electricity can cost especially when it’s not them paying the bills! Encourage staff to turn off lights, ovens and equipment when not in use. Ensure that heating and hot water are set at the correct temperature and that you are not heating water wastefully.
Don’t just switch everything on when you arrive in the morning, just switch on the equipment you need and you will find that you will quickly save money.
2. Make changes to the way you use heating and lighting[/b
Switch to energy saving LED lighting which is longer lasting and cheaper.
Turn down the thermostat in your premises by 1-2 degrees – it can make a lot of difference to your energy costs.
If you work in the food and hospitality trade, regularly clean ventilation units and extractor hood filters, as this can increase efficiency and therefore reduce energy consumption.
[b]3. Renegotiate your energy costs and save money
Rather than unravel each of your separate energy contracts yourself while simultaneously trying to run your business, talk to an energy broker. Energy brokers offer a free service and will work with a large range of suppliers to get you the best price – not just the big six.
A broker can utilise the power of bulk buying so are able to negotiate lower prices with energy companies and can pass these savings onto their own customers.
4. Are you on the right type of meter?
The most common meter is a single rate meter, with one unit price for all hours of day or night.
There are also two-rate meters, which have two unit prices, one of which has a cheaper off peak unit price for evening or night use (although the daytime price can often be higher than a single rate meter).
Two-rate meters can be beneficial if you use a lot of electricity at night, for example with large refrigeration units running 24 hours a day, as the cost per kWh of electricity used will be much less than during the day.
5. Install a smart meter
Smart meters can be fitted by your electricity or gas suppliers. They replace your existing meter, and will send regular readings to the supplier.
Your bills will be produced on accurate, not estimated, readings.
Your energy supplier can give you access to the data online, so you can monitor electricity and gas use, and highlight the times of day you are using more energy than you need.
6. Submit regular meter readings
If you don’t have a smart meter, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to your energy company. You can easily do this over the phone or via their website – you just need your account number.
7. Choose a fixed price contract, not a variable tariff
If you are paying a variable rate, this will be much higher than you need to pay. Agreeing a fixed price contract for 1- 3 years or even longer, will cost you much less – you will pay the same price per unit used for the duration of the contract.
Don’t be concerned about tying yourself into a 2-3 year contract if there is a chance you may be moving premises in the future. Unless you are on half hourly metering, there are usually no penalties for ending the contract early in this particular instance (as long as you pay for the energy you use up to the date you vacate the premises).