MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: Cut down your business' utility costs

Your gas and electricity bills don't need to cost an arm and a leg. Jonathan Elliott explains how you can cut down on one of your most expensive overheads.

by Jonathan Elliot
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
A recent report from industry regulator Ofgem has demanded that Britain’s ‘Big Six’ energy providers simplify the confusing system that ‘bamboozled’ their customers. But while it’s fantastic news for consumers, the plight of Britain’s small businesses – who face an even more confusing relationship with utility companies – remains largely unchanged.

MT asked Jonathan Elliott, managing director of Make It Cheaper, how companies can cut the cost of their energy overheads.

1. Don’t bury your head in the sand
There’s an alarming gulf in the price businesses pay for what is essentially the same product. On the whole, it’s passive companies – those who fail to take action on their energy contracts – who wind up paying the biggest tariffs.

2. Get up to speed
Make sure you are up to speed on all aspects of your energy outlay so you don’t end up paying over the odds. At a bare minimum, you should at least find out what type of contract you are on and how much you are paying per unit rate.

3. Take control
Review your utility prices on an annual basis. Barely 15% of small businesses know what rate they are paying for electricity.

4. Don’t fall into the rollover trap
Unlike domestic users, businesses are subject to assumptive renewal contracts that only offer a limited window of opportunity to switch suppliers before being rolled over onto a new contract at a higher rate.

5. Don’t miss your window of opportunity
There’s an incredibly narrow period (sometimes just 30 days) in which to act. Switch on and take action before it’s too late by finding out when your contract expires. Make It Cheaper has a free online tracking tool to help businesses check when their ‘switching window’ arises.

6. Shop around
Just 7% of businesses switched energy providers last year, and more than half have never changed suppliers. Loyalty doesn’t count for much when it comes to your utilities so be prepared to switch, and switch often in search of the best possible deal.  

7. Don’t be put off
Switching is generally perceived as a complicated, time-consuming process; but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you ask the experts.

8. Embrace the savings
Our research shows that, on average, companies can save more than a third on their energy bills each year - simply by shopping around for the best deal on their electricity.

9. Ask the experts
Simplify the switching process by calling on specialist support from an independent savings expert. An impartial advisor will guide you through the utilities minefield, helping to save you valuable time and money in the process.

10. Don’t stop at utilities
While the headline figures are reserved for utilities, embracing the switching mentality can also save you money in other business services, such as telecoms and insurance.   

- Jonathan Elliott is Managing Director at Make It Cheaper, price comparison and switching service for small businesses.

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