There’s no way to avoid paying your energy bill. However, did you know you could save up to 20% each month just by making a few adjustments to your business routine? You won’t even need to change your energy supplier.
Energy expert Jason Smith has put together his five easy tricks for cutting energy bills for your start up business.
1. If you’re taking over premises, check that you have a contract in place
The highest charges from the energy companies are for those businesses that are out of contract. If you’re moving into new premises, the previous tenant’s contract would have already expired before you take control. You’re then forced to pay either out of contract or deemed rates by the incumbent provider supplying your energy.
While any contract changes are being negotiated, the lights will stay on but charges continue to be incurred.
Your first job before moving into your new premises is to search for new electricity prices. Even the most expensive standard tariff from any of the Big Six providers is 60% cheaper than the emergency tariffs new tenants are subjected to. Checking prices is a five-minute exercise that’s likely to cut your new energy bills in half. And, because you’ve been placed on a temporary tariff, you can move on to your new rates immediately to maximise savings.
2. Switch appliances off (or at least down)
We’ve been told for decades to switch electrical appliances and lights off when not in use. However, even today when energy prices are at one of the highest levels ever, many companies leave lighting and heating on during the night and weekends when premises are not in use.
Although this can increase the security of the building by showing it could be occupied, the savings from switching most electrical items off is likely to save a company 10% per year on energy bills. Computers, photocopiers, printers and screens waste the most, even in standby mode. The last person leaving each night, especially on a Friday, should check everything that can be turned off really is turned off.
The same message goes for heating. Switching the thermostat down by just one degree produces another saving of 10% on your energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust website. Most people are unlikely to notice the change in temperature, whether it be during the warm summer months or colder winters.
3. Pay your bills by monthly Direct Debit and save up to 7%
Automation is key in most industries, and the energy sector is no different. Power companies want you to pay by Direct Debit (DD) to reduce their costs of invoice collection and these savings are passed onto you, the customer.
Most companies offer a basic 2% reduction when paying monthly, whereas EDF offers a massive 7% incentive. Even if you have a current contract that’s still months away from being renegotiated, you can swap from paying by cheque to monthly DD.
Although the DD can change depending on your usage, your supplier must notify you of any increases or decreases. The monthly amounts reflect average consumption of a meter, although could be estimated if readings are not taken. So, call your energy provider to change your payment method to make an additional “quick win” saving.
4. Check your energy bills for accuracy
It’s easy to simply pay a bill when presented to stop the dreaded letters threatening to cut off your supply. However, it’s worth checking the accuracy before reaching for your chequebook or seeing your DD rise.
If you’re on a standard meter, it’s only likely to be read manually on an ad-hoc basis. Your bill is therefore an estimate of your consumption. Ensure you read your meter and add the data into your online account. That way, you won’t be over-paying for energy you haven’t used.
It’s also worth checking the rates applied to the invoice you receive. Most errors reported from business owners lie in new contract rates not being applied correctly. Your electricity bill is detailed enough for you to find the tariff rates being charged. Any errors should be reported to your account manager immediately for resolution.
5. Consider the lighting in your premises
The EU has already outlawed traditional incandescent light bulbs in favour of fluorescent and LED bulbs. These new bulbs last longer and consume far less energy, and the savings quickly add up.
A fluorescent bulb uses a third of the energy of a 40-watt bulb and lasts 15 times as long. It also produces almost no heat, which is efficient if your offices are air-conditioned. Though LED bulbs use even less energy, they are still relatively expensive when compared with other options.
Jason Smith is a blogger and energy expert who has helped businesses increase their energy efficiency for over 10 years. Jason’s valuable expertise has helped thousands of companies cut their energy costs each year. He manages the website Business Electricity Prices, which advises small- and medium-sized businesses on reducing their utility bills, and continues to share his knowledge with the corporate world.