There is a good deal of truth in the perception that commercial energy contracts are easy to get into but very hard to get out of, in large part due to the fact that regulation of the commercial gas and electricity markets is patchy at best. The whole area is extremely complicated – everything from the charging models suppliers use to the different types of tariffs to the labyrinthine process of switching supplier.
There are over 40 different commercial gas and electricity suppliers out there and hundreds more brokers.
It is true – there have been many cases in the past where companies have been stung by unscrupulous business energy brokers forcing them to pay far more for their gas and electricity than they actually need to. And there are definitely pros and cons on taking on the services of an energy broker and ways for the sector to improve its delivery of service.
We’re aware of this so, in this article, we want to explain what a business energy broker should do and how they can actually help you save money and contribute towards a cleaner environment.
To do that, we’re profiling Britain’s biggest fourteen business energy brokers in this article. The thinking behind this is that no company grows to become of the UK’s biggest without keeping their customers happy and behaving responsibly.
- we explain how business energy brokers find the best deal
- short biographies for each of our 14 market leaders
- answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about business energy brokers.
Energy brokers list
Our energy brokers list contains information on where each company is based, when they were founded, and how many staff they were last reported as having.
|Northern Gas & Power Ltd business energy brokers||500||2012||Gateshead|
|Love Energy Savings business energy brokers||500||2007||Bolton|
|Make IT Cheaper t/a Bionic business energy brokers||250||2006||London|
|Smarter Business business energy brokers||250||2015||Haywards Heath|
|Crown Utilities business energy brokers||150||2009||Bury|
|World Kinect Energy Services business energy brokers||100||1984||Elland|
|Utility Bidder business energy brokers||100||2009||Corby|
|Power Solutions UK business energy brokers||50||2004||Chester|
|Switch My Business energy brokers||50||2008||Manchester|
|Diverse Utility Solutions business energy brokers||42||2016||Nottingham|
|Energy Buyers Network business energy brokers||36||2012*||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Energy Centric business energy brokers||35||2015||Romford|
|Advantage Utilities business energy brokers||30||2001||London|
|UCR Consultants business energy consultants||20||2009||Quorn|
* date determined from WHOIS register. Other business data supplied by More Than Words (Marketing) Ltd and from internet research.
Working with a business energy broker
Brokers work with a panel of business energy companies
Brokers themselves don’t supply you with business electricity and gas – they work with a panel of business energy companies who are the actual suppliers. Their job is to match the right customer with the right supplier and to organise a supply agreement that works for both parties.
Factfinding about you and your organisation
Many gas and electricity suppliers target specific and preferred types of customer – normally by company size and activity. The rates that gas and electricity suppliers actually pay for energy also varies around the country.
Your broker’s initial investigation into your company will focus on how much energy it uses and what it does.
Also of importance is when your business uses energy – gas and electricity is charged at different rates at different points of the day.
Your broker will then start to match you with the types of suppliers most likely to want to do a deal to win your company’s business based upon your size, your energy demand patterns, and your line of business.
For businesses with multiple sites, the process of obtaining a company-wide quote and organising a synchronous switchover is complicated. However, most brokers will have a lot of experience in doing this and they’ll be there to guide you along the process.
Presenting you with a series of quotes
With each of the quotes you receive from brokers, look out for three things:
Your unit rate
The unit rate is the price you’re charged for the gas and electricity your business actually consumes. Units are measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy.
Your standing charge
This is a fixed amount of money that you’re charged every day for being an account holder. Not all energy companies have a standing charge however please be aware that the lack of a standing charge does not necessarily mean that your business gas and electricity costs will be lower.
This is how long you commit to being supplied by the company your broker finds for you.
With a fixed rate contract, you may be asked to sign up for at least one year and sometimes up to five years. If you wish to leave early, you may have to pay a hefty termination fee.
With a variable rate contract, most are easy-in, easy-out and they don’t require a termination fee to be paid as long as the correct notice is given. On most contracts, the notice period seems to be as little as thirty days.
Utility brokers UK – company introductions
Following are descriptions and biographies of the top 10 utility brokers in the UK as measured by number of employees and company turnover.
Northern Gas & Power
Northern Gas & Power have enjoyed a very successful decade of business during which they have saved their thousands of clients countless hundreds of millions of pounds. In recent years, growth has exploded and they are now, according to their website, “the largest energy consultancy by customer volume and managed kWhs”. They have 500 members of staff and they now provide their services in five countries.
They promise complete independence and impartiality for their clients. Each customer has a dedicated and experienced account manager whose job is to secure the best deal and to relieve their clients of as much paperwork as possible.
Theirs is a free-of-charge service, they ask for no contractual tie-ins when you use them, and they offer free energy efficiency support, help, and advice to clients.
Northern Gas and Power arranges:
- fixed and flexible term electricity contracts
- fixed and flexible term gas contracts
- flexible term gas contracts
- renewable contracts
Visit Northern Gas & Power Ltd business energy brokers‘ website.
Love Energy Savings
Love Energy Savings, a business of impressive scale and bargaining power like Northern Gas & Power, provide energy consultancy services, water brokerage, business insurance and business telecoms from their base in Bolton.
They have worked with over 250,000 UK businesses so far saving them an estimated £85m. Customer satisfaction is important to Love Energy Savings and its commitment to its clients is reflected in the high Trustpilot ratings it enjoys.
Visit Love Energy Savings business energy brokers‘ website.
Bionic are Britain’s second biggest utility broker according to the latest market intelligence records. They do deals for business energy customers with SSE, EFD Energy, British Gas Lite, CNG, and Opus Energy.
Most of their customers approach them for assistance via their website. To get a personalised quote for your company, first enter your postcode and a few other pieces of information about your business. You’ll then speak with one of their switching experts who will ask a few more questions before they start to get quotes from their suppliers.
The company claims that customers save an average of 36% on their business energy expenditure after using them.
In addition to securing corporate clients savings on their gas and electricity bills, they also offer a best deals service on business insurance, public liability insurance, business finance, and business connectivity (broadband, phone line, and SIM only).
Visit Make IT Cheaper t/a Bionic business energy brokers‘ website.
Smarter Business provides business gas and electricity, business water, business waste, business finance, facilities maintenance, and business telecoms to its 40,000 customers. They save clients on average £1,120 on their annual energy bills.
In December 2018, Smarter Business joined the Visionist Consulting Group, the digital transformations company.
Visit Smarter Business business energy brokers‘ website.
Crown Utilities, based in Bury, broker deals for business clients for their gas, water, and electricity contracts.
Their aim is to make business energy simple for the client offering a start-to-finish project management and consulting service whose end goal is to secure the maximum discount possible for their customers.
They offer a nationwide service based around their team of experienced and highly trained market advisors. Working with utility companies, they have streamlined the application and switching processes reducing as much as possible the prospect of any disruption to a customer’s business and keeping paperwork to a minimum.
They’re able to provide installation, disconnection, and relocation for both gas and electricity connections as well as provide temporary energy supplies to construction sites. For property developers with sites containing 20 plots or more, they have a dedicated team to help supply power and heat to building sites both during construction and after completion.
Visit Crown Utilities business energy brokers‘ website.
World Kinect Energy Services
World Kinect’s electricity and natural gas procurement teams bring years of experience to clients in the buying and pricing of the most competitive contracts – they have been doing this ever since the market was deregulated.
For SMEs, the company’s knowledge of market opportunities and their independence from the utility companies gives their experts the insight and choice they need to find the most cost effective energy solution for a client.
World Kinect has specialist divisions looking after the interests of clients in the following sectors – agriculture, commercial services, construction, education, fuel retailers, hospitals, hotels & leisure, manufacturing, mining, ports, public admin, transportation, and utilities & power generation.
Visit World Kinect Energy Services business energy brokers‘ website.
Utility Bidder offers a near whole-of-market approach working with 27 suppliers. They are trusted partners to nearly 70,000 businesses with an annual energy spend of in excess of £60m.
The company won the “Best Customer Service” and “Consultancy of the Year” awards at the 2019 Energy Live Consultancy Awards. In what was a busy year for the company, they also received investment from Sovereign Capital Partners following sales growth of 40%.
In common with many other brokers, they have recently added a water brokering department and they are offering interested customers a water bill validation service.
Visit Utility Bidder business energy brokers‘ website.
Power Solutions UK
Formed in 2005, Power Solutions believes that they know the energy sector back to front. Brokers normally work with a panel of around five or six preferred utility partners however Power Solutions has developed relationships with over 20 utility companies, giving their switching experts access to a much broader range of options for clients than what is typically on offer through others.
They recently introduced a water consulting service too. This means that, by working with Power Solutions, all of your utility needs could be taken care of by one company, greatly simplifying the complexity of utility cost management for your business.
Visit Power Solutions UK business energy brokers‘ website.
Switch My Business
Switch My Business’s approach to the market is underpinned by the belief that SMEs’ needs are often ignored and marginalised by comparison services and by the sales teams at traditional brokerages.
At the same time, SME owners themselves face an uphill struggle trying to find and negotiate the best supplier and the best package for their business because there’s an abundance of choice available. If a business owner spends 2-3 days in total looking for the best deal, would the money saved by finding that deal be outweighed by the revenue they did not bring in because the owner’s attention was focused on finding a cheap gas and electricity contract?
With a 5* rating on TrustPilot, Switch My Business has brought the total consultation time required from business owners during the process down to 20 minutes. With the information they discover in those 20 minutes, they have enough to start searching among their suppliers for the very best deal for you.
Visit Switch My Business energy brokers‘ website.
Diverse Utility Solutions
One of the fastest growing cost reduction analyst companies in the UK, Diverse Utility Solutions’ team specialise in getting to know clients so that they understand the type of deal they need to strike with a utility company to bring down their bill as much as possible.
The company promises to manage all your paperwork and to manage all contract renewals as part of a simple, hassle-free service for which you will not pay them a penny directly.
All you need to do to start the process is to send across your most recent gas and electricity bills and to sign a consent form giving them permission to deal with energy companies on your behalf. They then prepare a market report for you showing the information they’ve gathered from each supplier and the deals on offer.
From that report, you choose the supplier and the deal that you want and then you sign the paperwork needed to initiate the switching process.
In addition to utility brokering services for companies, they also broker for telecoms, mobile, waste management, and LED Lighting.
Visit Diverse Utility Solutions business energy brokers‘ website.
Energy Business Network
Energy Business Network approaches the market in a unique way – through their Combined Consumption Platform (CCP).
The buying power (which continues to grow) of the CCP means that Energy Business Network and its clients can access corporate rates, normally only open to the very largest firms.
Involved in the CCP are 25 utility companies with which the team at Energy Business Network have long-standing and close relationships. As well as the buying power of CCP, the analysts and market watchers at the company negotiate purchase rates at the times of year when there are periodical and seasonal lows in the wholesale market – they then lock those prices in for 12 months and pass on the savings.
Energy Business Network handles the process from start to finish providing bill validation, change of tenancy when a site changes hands, contract end date alignment (where there are multiple meters), mid-term reviews, new build meter installations, termination adherence, and termination monitoring.
They have recently started offering a brokering and consulting service on commercial water supply contracts too.
Visit Energy Buyers Network business energy brokers‘ website.
Launched in 2008, this London team of 35 energy experts run their company with accountability, transparency, and trust at its core. Theirs is a start-to-finish service – negotiating the best contract possible in the first place, liaising with suppliers on clients’ behalves, and finally getting the client connected to their brand new energy provider.
When the new contract is live, the team are there to validate bills, to help clients better understand the energy marketplace, and to provide guidance and support on how they can reduce their carbon footprint. They have recently expanded their scope into provide water procurement services for clients meaning that this is a one-stop shop for companies’ entire utility needs.
Visit Energy Centric business energy brokers‘ website.
Advantage Utilities have spent two decades helping British businesses find the best deals on gas and electricity supply.
Behind Advantage Utilities’ approach is putting the customer first. When a client enquires to see whether it’s possible to find a better deal on their energy supply, they’re assigned to an account manager – a single point of contact. The role of the account manager is to understand the company’s financial and operational requirements and then use that information to find a complete and overall utility solutions deal.
When clients agree to let Advantage Utilities do this work for them, there are no surprise charges or hidden fees. To further demonstrate that transparency, the company has signed a third party intermediary code of conduct with their suppliers containing a commitment to transparent and honest business practices.
Visit Advantage Utilities business energy brokers‘ website.
Over 40,000 businesses rely on UCR Consultants to make sure that they are paying the best possible price for the gas and electricity contracts. They promise to search through tariffs offered by suppliers “you may never have heard of” in their quest to save you money.
Visit UCR Consultants business energy consultants‘ website.
Business energy brokers FAQ
Can a broker help me find out my renewal date?
Yes. However, to do so, they’ll need you to sign a letter giving them authority to deal with your current gas and electricity suppliers on your behalf.
My current supplier has sent me through a renewal letter. Can a broker beat their prices?
Gas and electricity supply companies are not legally required to send you a letter reminding you that your current contract is coming to an end unless yours is a microbusiness.
It is vitally important for you to remember when your contracts come to an end. There may be provision within your current energy supply agreement that, if you have not actively followed a prescribed procedure to cancel, your contract may be extended using “rollover” rates for up to another 12 months. Rollover rates are likely to be much higher than the rates you initially agreed to.
If there is no provision to extend your contract in that way, you may then be charged “out of contract” or “deemed” rates – again, these are far higher than the rates you’ll have agreed to.
Is my current supplier able to object to my leaving them?
Your current supplier is not allowed to stop you from leaving them unless you owe money to them. Please make sure that your account is up to date when you work with your broker to avoid any delays in the switchover.
How do brokers make money? Are their services really for free?
Most brokers make commission on a “cost plus” model. For example, if their supplier charges them 12p per kWh, your broker may quote you 14p per kWh. When the contract is signed, the supplier will then bill you at that rate and, when you’ve paid your bill, the supplier will send the broker the commission.
Suppliers incentivise brokers to sell as much gas and electricity as possible. If they achieve those targets, the rate they pay per gas and electricity unit may decrease meaning that they make more even money from your contract.
Some energy brokers charge for a fixed fee for consultation services and for arranging a contract. With a fixed fee service, you’ll likely be charged the supplier’s actual rate per unit consumed rather than the supplier’s rate plus the broker’s commission.
Is there a cooling-off period when I sign a new contract?
No – unlike with a residential energy contract, there is no cooling-off period when you sign a new business energy contract.
How can I be sure that a broker is legit?
You can make sure that a broker is legitimate by checking out the written reviews about them online and by searching for the scores they’ve achieved on platforms like TrustPilot.
Should you work with a business energy broker?
Ultimately, that’s up to you – as with every business procurement decision, there are pros and cons to doing it yourself or involving a broker.
As we discussed at the top of this article, this is a confusing and complicated market and, if you come to it with little or no experience, the time you spend on securing an energy deal may cost you more than the sales you would have made by concentrating on running your business.
A broker will save you a lot of time however, as you’d expect, they need to be paid for their time and knowledge. If you can, try to use more than one broker so you get a wider scope of the offers available from suppliers. The more quotes you have, the more likely you’ll achieve a significant saving on what you’re currently paying.