Small Business Gas & Electricity Discussion Area

Former_MSE_Dan Posts: 1,593
Combo Breaker First Post
edited 14 June 2010 at 4:32PM in Small biz MoneySaving
This thread is specifically to discuss the

Small Business Gas & Electricity

section of the Small Business MoneySaving guide.

If you want to discuss this section, or suggest any new comparisons for consideration, please click reply.

Former MSE team member


  • However while there are websites, for their business comparison services they tend to operate through callback systems (ie you request it calls and goes through the savings with you), not online.

    While I agree that a lot of these business comparison services tend to operate through callback systems, there are also real online business comparisons services available which will give you instant rates for your specific electricity meter or gas usage. Some of these online websites also allow you to switch online as well. Some of the online only deals "may" be cheaper than those available via the phone.

    I would also like to point out that business users are usually in fixed term contracts. You can only switch at the end of the term of the contract and only if you have provided notice to your current supplier. This is usually between 1-3 months before the end date of the contract. So make sure you do otherwise you will be automatically rolled over on a renewal contract which is "usually" not very competitive and you will be stuck on those rates for another term (usually a year).
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 45,827
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    We had a previous sticky on this which I have now closed and unstuck. You can see it here, but I am also quoting the most relevant posts.
    Savvy_Sue wrote: »
    You can't use U-switch or any of the 'domestic' services Martin mentions in the section about reducing utility bills for business premises, but you can use these people: LSI Utility Brokers

    And if you are a member of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, you can get even better deals. Details of how to do so are here. They offer other deals as well (software, mobile phones, payroll etc), so worth looking into whether it's worth joining.
    Psimms wrote: »
    It's worth noting that sales activity within the energy industry is unregulated.

    We've had a couple of bad experiences with sales agencies promising to make our energy bills cheaper. We were advised to switch to E4B last year (which went belly up) only to find later that E4B were paying these agencies commissions of around 20% of customer net annual energy spend!

    If you are thinking about using a business energy broker or business energy comparison website definitely check them out on the Utilities Intermediaries (UIA )website. This is a trade association and code of practice for energy brokers looking to restore customer confidence
    Robboseven wrote: »
    Most commercial gas contracts have two potential stings in the tail.

    The first one is widely known but still catches thousands of companies out - the contract roll-over. You get to the end of your contract and forget to terminate it within the suppliers 'renewal window' and they roll the contract over for another 12 or 24 months at 'deemed rates' i.e. much higher rates than if you had negotiated with them.

    The other one is less well known but in the current difficult trading conditions is becoming more common and that is the 'take or pay' clause. Commercial gas contracts usually stipulate a minimum and maximum quantity of gas that you will consume based on your gas meters' consumption during the previous 12 months, as held on the National Grid (formerly Transco) database. Not only can this number be wildly inaccurate but should your consumption reduce (either due to a slowdown in business or through energy saving measures) they can invoice you for any unused gas. No they can - really.

    I work as a commercial energy consultant and I know personally of instances where companies have been billed between £5k and £30k. I'm not touting for business, just making you aware that if you run a small business and you have an energy contract, make sure you know what you are signing.

    I personally feel that energy suppliers are getting away using dubious and underhand methods in many areas. Ofgem appear to be a bunch of self serving, toothless, jobsworths who like nothing more than putting together another 250 page report and talking about issues rather than actually doing something about them.

    Rant over, just be careful.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • chalkie99
    chalkie99 Posts: 1,618
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I would just like to add that if you use an online business comparison site they do not, necessarily, give you the most competitive rates.

    We recently took over premises where the electricity that had been previously supplied by British Gas. The online comparison sites are annoying in that for business most of them insist on you submitting your contact details and then 'phoning you to discuss rates. They are quite pushy and persistent.

    In our case one firm quoted us 3 rates with British Gas being only third best.

    However, when we 'phoned British Gas direct we were given much cheaper rates and, alledgedly, the comparison sites always add their own hidden percentage to their quotes.

    Always call suppliers directly and see what they an offer you.
  • Thanks for sharing information
  • nans0n
    nans0n Posts: 6 Forumite
    As a thought, I've managed to save on my electricity bills by installing an energy monitor.

    Knowing where employees were leaving lights, computers on etc. overnight (I have it connected to my PC) allowed me to make changes in the office so people became more conscience.

    I think it's about 20% I've saved on my bill at the moment just comparing it to last month... so I can recommend it as a way to save money on electricity bills.

    Mine's a Current Cost one. The only reason I bought it was because I could connect it to my computer and track usage i.e. unusual peak when out of office etc.
    BASSETT Posts: 146 Forumite
    Have a small business and contract is up in 3 months. Currently with British Gas, they took over from Bizz Energy, whom we had numerous problems with. Current bills really expensive, approx £300 monthly for small shop open 12hrs a day, BG looking into whether meter running too fast.
    So am looking to shop around, I want honest, no nonsense advice that I can understand and not be harrassed into contract like I was Bizz Energy. Where should I go?
  • paulwf
    paulwf Posts: 3,269 Forumite
    The key point with small business rates is that there isn't a set price, it is very much "think of a number" as far as suppliers are concerned.

    We used to fix the price with BG every year. At the end of that year they would send the contract for the next year with the price doubled. They try and catch you out by saying this is the price starting in 3 months time but you only have 1-2 weeks to reject the contract or you will be locked in.

    What you then have to do is phone half a dozen other suppliers and get the best quote. Then go back to BG with this quote. At first they will offer a slight reduction on their new contract but eventually they will agree to the lowest quoted price you have which is probably what you are currently paying. Repeat the process every year.

    Money saving and getting a fair price as a consumer is fairly straightforward. It is when you have a business that it turns into one big game and you have to be absolutely on the ball. Only start a business if you are confident to haggle with suppliers and have an eye for detail bordering on the obsessive...or you'll be taken for a ride.
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 45,827
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    We have an article about this, and our sticky thread should be useful, so I shall merge you into that, link for article is in the first post.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • DrLJN
    DrLJN Posts: 4 Newbie
    We combined approaches - contacted Youswitch for quotes, then phoned the companies direct to see if they'd beat the best price. It worked - we've cut our gas bill by 50%!
  • HI,
    In the hope that someone can help us.
    My boyfriend rents a workshop and whilst the electricity meter for this is within the workshop, there are also sockets outside the workshop and equipment (a convection heater) permenantly switched on which are outside the workshop which are on the same meter, although he has no control over these.
    The electricity bill he recieved for January was particularly high, especially as he has not been in work, and because the heater which is out of his control was permenantly on (and on a high setting). The landlord has offered a discount on this but has said that they cannot show him the original bill as they receive a billl for the whole site and then they divide it up, and have said that as he rents space he must have used it.
    Surely they cannot charge for utilities that have not been used, or at least there should be a didicated meter for each unit that is rented out?
    Is anyone able to ive me any words of wisdom on this?
    Many Thanks
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