With the soaring cost of energy, many business owners will be scratching their heads, pondering how they’re going to make it all work.
A recent report by SME Insights Report found the rising cost of fuel and energy is one of the greatest threats to SME survival in 2022, with some seeing their bills skyrocket by over 1,000 per cent.
Now is a good time, then, to fine tune your business operations – in this case, review your business energy supplier – and claw back some of that cash.
The average small business uses 22,500 kWh a month for gas, and 32,500 kWh of electricity per month based on per annum energy use, according to BritishBusinessEnergy.co.uk. More on that below.
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Prices are highly individualised in the business energy market. Providers can give you a quote to get a better sense of what your energy cost will be. This will be based on your postcode and your average consumption, but companies might want a little more information about you and your business.
If you’ve just moved into a new premises and you haven’t sorted out a new energy deal, you’ll be moved onto a deemed/out of contract tariff with the previous occupant’s supplier. And yes, the rates are higher than on regular tariffs.
Your cheapest option is to go on a fixed term deal, but some like the flexibility of a variable tariff which has a fluctuating price to reflect the market.
What should I be looking for from my business energy supplier?
Now, there a few features which set energy suppliers apart from each other, but a lot of features are largely the same.
Being able to give you a smart meter and having an online platform or app to manage your account are standard features so you shouldn’t be wooed by them.
Instead, focus on price and the flexibility of your tariff as well as the firm’s reputation and customer service record. Plenty of providers offer an eco-friendly service now which is a plus if becoming greener is a goal for your business.
We’ll run you through some of the best providers for smaller businesses in the UK and what they can offer you. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to the fixed and variable tariffs.
You don’t need us to tell you that British Gas is one of the biggest energy suppliers in the UK.
They can install, maintain and repair your commercial gas boiler as well as maintaining your plumbing and drainage. They also have a business moving team to make switching easier.
British Gas have a mix of fixed term and variable tariffs.
Fixed rate energy plans means that the unit rate stays the same for one, two or three years of your plan.
On the 30-day rolling tariff, your unit rate and standard charge could go up and down but you’ll have at least 30 days’ notice before these change. This tariff is only available to customers agreeing a new supply contract. However, you can upgrade to a fixed price plan by giving 30 days’ notice and paying all of your outstanding bills.
If you have a half-hourly energy meter, you’ll get a tailored price based on how and when you use electricity.
To get a multi-site and multi meter electricity deal, you must be new to British Gas and use more than 100,000 kWh a year.
The Commercial Landlords plans are suitable for those with one property or a portfolio. Choose from fixed or 30-day rolling contracts above. Additional safety checks are available from British Gas.
Trustpilot rating: 3.3/5
You’ll no doubt be familiar with npower, but they also have a business offering, with dedicated business switching consultants to help you move over as quickly as possible.
To sweeten their deals, you’ve got offers and discounts on Business Rewards including cinema vouchers and free eye tests.
Though it has perks, its customer service is lagging so it’s up to you to decide which is the bigger priority.
Unlike some of the others, npower has a few different tariffs to suit different businesses.
Npower offers up fixed term contracts up to four years. You do have the option of cash or cheque payments, but they come with a 5pc surcharge. The Direct Debit option doesn’t come with a surcharge.
The Business Online Saver is fixed is for 12 months.
The variable tariff lets you change suppliers with 30 days’ notice, energy prices move up and down with the market. You can pay by cash or cheque, but you’ll dodge the 5pc surcharge if you pay by direct debit.
If you generate your own energy – say, through solar panels – you can sell it with the Smart Export Guarantee tariff. It replaces the previous Feed-In Tariff (FIT). You’ll need to apply through E.ON who have eligibility criteria of their own.
Trustpilot rating: 1.2/5
ScottishPower offers up fairly standard packages and is a decent shout if you’d prefer to have your energy with a bigger name. Download the Scottishpower app on Google Play and iOS to view your bills, enter meter readings, manage your payments and monitor your energy consumption.
The Business Fixed tariff is fixed for up to three years.
The Standard Fixed is fixed for up to one year and comes with a 30-day termination notice period. It lets you move to a new product any time with no fees.
As is the nature of these deals, the price varies on a Standard Variable tariff, but you can move to a new ScottishPower product without an exit fee.
Trustpilot rating: 3.5/5
Bulb for Business is relatively new to market – it launched in 2015.
Its costs move with the market, meaning it might not be right for you if you want the security of a fixed tariff. To counteract this fluctuation, you won’t face any out-of-contract price hikes or charges for leaving.
The energy offering is also more flexible in that you can choose between getting your energy from renewable or non-renewable sources. Greener energy is a key driver for Bulb. For every new member who signs up, £2 goes to the Bulb Foundation which goes to making grants for charities and social enterprises tackling the climate crisis.
Another key driver for Bulb is keeping things simple, which is why it works on a single ‘Vari-Fair’ tariff system. They’ve calculated on average you’ll pay £2161 for a single site with a standard 1 rate meter in the East Midlands region. That’s based on a business consuming 16,000 kWh per year, paying by direct debit with online billing and starting in August 2019.
The standing charges for gas and electricity are both 27.40p per day.
Trustpilot rating: 4.3/5
With Utility Warehouse, prices are always lower than ‘fair price’ set by Ofgem. They also install and service boilers.
You’ve got spending perks to boot. Earn as much as 7pc cashback on your UW Visa card at Sainsbury’s, M&S, B&Q, Halfords and more. The cashback you earn comes straight off your energy bill.
UW don’t advertise any specific tariffs, saying that it’s easier to arrange your energy deal over the phone. If you become a gold member (you sign up to four or more of its utilities), you get up to £200 to cover termination fees from your previous supplier and an extra 10pc discount after one year with the firm.
Trustpilot rating: 4.2/5
If you’re a micro business with consumption of up to 50,000 kWh, you’ll be given an instant online quote. You can stand to save even more by taking two or more utilities.
Those who are interested in going greener will be glad to know that Yü is backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates.
The energy firm’s fully fixed plans cover both single and multiple sites.
You can use a pre-payment method if you have a tighter budget.
For 100pc green energy, go with the Pure Green Electricity Plan.
Trustpilot rating: 3.9/5
Octopus supplies 100pc green energy – it’s even approved by Friends of the Earth.
They also believe in fairness and good customer service. The difference between their fixed and standard energy price sits at less than 1pc and you won’t be penalised with exit fees if you decide to leave. What’s more, they answer customer service calls within two minutes.
You’ve got the option of three normal tariffs and three special tariffs here.
Octopusfixed fixes your energy price for a full year.
flexibleOctopus promises no fixed term contract or exit fees and fair pricing that flexes with the market.
greenestOctopus is the greenest offering for dual fuel. It’s like Octopusfixed, but carbon offset.
The three extras are for more eco-conscious companies.
Electric Juice is for electric charging businesses.
Local Energy Tariffs connect local businesses to locally generated renewable energy. It’s all very local.
Vertical Power tariffs are 100pc green electricity tariffs for vertical farms.
Trustpilot rating: 4.8/5
Again, So Energy give customers 100pc renewable electricity. You can even choose where your energy comes from – solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric or tidal. Through your online account, submit meter reading, check your energy usage or download your bills from your online account. They ensure the fixed energy tariff is in the cheapest 10pc across the UK, based on a medium user.
If you refer a friend to So Energy, you’ll both get £40 if they make the switch using your link.
So Energy has one fixed rate tariff at any one time – go online and get a quote.
Trustpilot rating: 4.2/5
Business energy supplier comparisons
Our supplier reviews should give you a good head start when selecting the best commercial rates, tariffs and service levels to suit your needs. Remember that even if a tariff is fixed, the price of your business energy can still vary hugely. When looking for the best deal you must get quotes tailored to your business.
There is no single best supplier we can recommend. Be sure to do comparisons by getting a range of quotes from different energy suppliers and go from there, bearing in mind key elements like your location and usage patterns.
You can find your next career move over at the Growth Business Job Board