Finding the right business energy supplier and tariff is a lot more complicated and involved than sorting out the supply of gas and electricity to our homes. If you’re responsible for paying the bills at work, you’ll appreciate how fraught and complex the process is.
There are dozens of suppliers on the market offering a variety of different types of tariff with contract lengths ranging from 30 days to 5 years.
There’s also the knowledge that your business should be doing its bit to help the environment by cutting down on energy usage. However, in the midst of the day to day hustle and bustle in the office, you just don’t have time to plan how to better and more efficiently use your printers, computers, air conditioning, heating, and lighting.
To sit down and get quotes from the 40+ energy providers you might switch to on the market takes a lot of time and effort – and you’ll be repeating the same information over and over again to dozens of sales-hungry reps who will want to try and close you at the earliest opportunity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course – but perhaps you don’t want to have dozens of reps chasing you down on the phone at once.
If you want someone to do that on your behalf, just fill in the form at the top of this page. Our team of experts will carry out a fact-finding exercise on your company and on your line of business. We’ll then make it our job to approach the suppliers we work with to get you the best deal.
Did you know that brokering services like ours have access to cheaper gas and electricity than direct customers because of the volume of business we deliver suppliers? Benefit from both our buying power and our free advice – let us do the commercial energy comparison for you.
Why is it so difficult to compare business energy?
It’s not just the number of gas and electricity suppliers which makes accurate business utility comparison tough.
It’s the peculiarities of your business which makes business utility comparison difficult as well. Your business, as with every other business, has its own energy needs that will be unique to you. What you need will often be vastly different from other companies – even companies operating in the same market as you.
There’s so much to consider from premises size to the amount of gas and electricity you use to the times when you’re likely to need it. Other important considerations include where your business is located, how many branches you have, and the number of people you have at each of your branches.
With domestic energy contracts, there are so few variables required to find the best deal that you can go onto a website, enter your postcode, share a little information about yourself, and then you’re presented with dozens of different options.
Not so with commercial energy contracts. These contracts have to be built so that they are bespoke to and fit perfectly the specific energy needs of your company.
Did you know that there are no dual fuel deals for business? The reason why is that, from business to business, how much gas and electricity is needed within a single company varies so greatly. That’s why, even if you do take both from one supplier, there’ll be two contracts for you to sign – one for gas and one for electricity.
How are commercial energy contracts charged?
Commercial energy contracts are billed in a very similar way to domestic energy contracts. Two charges will appear on your bill.
The unit cost
The unit cost is what you pay for each kWh (kilowatt hour) of energy you consume in gas or electricity.
The standing charge is a daily charge billed to your business covering the costs of transporting gas to your premises and on maintaining the National Grid.
Not all suppliers apply the standing charge however, before signing up to one which has waived that fee, please make sure that you’ll save money overall by switching. The absence of a standing charge does not automatically mean that your bills will be lower.
Occasionally, depending on the type of contract you take out, you may see an itemisation of other charges including the Climate Change Levy, supply costs, distribution costs, and transport costs. On most bills where these items appear, they will not be shown as separate charges – they’ll form part of your standing charge.
VAT is chargeable on commercial fuel and this will be shown toward the bottom of your bill. When arranging a new business energy contract, please speak with your broker or supplier about ensuring that the correct rate of VAT is applied
What are the different types of business energy contract?
There are four main types of business energy contract – fixed, variable rate, deemed, and rollover
With a fixed rate contract, the unit prices for the gas and electricity you consume will remain the same over the length of the deal you’ve agreed to. Budgeting is easier with a fixed rate contract however your total bill will still vary from month to month (or quarter to quarter) to reflect actual consumption.
If prices rise above the fixed rate you’ve agreed to, you’ll save money. However, if prices fall below the fixed rate, you’ll be paying more than you should.
Fixed rate contracts are often agreed for periods of between 1 year and 5 years. If you switch to another supplier before the renewal window at the end of your contract, you will likely pay a potentially substantial cancellation fee to your supplier. You might want to check before speaking with your current supplier that you weren’t the victim of misselling.
On a variable rate supply contract, the price you pay per unit fluctuates depending on what the current market wholesale price is. Sometimes, it can take a while for a rise or fall to feed through because your provider may have bought a lot of gas and electricity in advance at a given rate and they’ll be working their way through that supply.
Budgeting is harder with a variable rate contract and, in recent years, the wholesale price of electricity has tended to rise. Please remember though that past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance.
You pay the deemed rate for gas and electricity in one of two scenarios:
- you have just moved into new premises and you continue to take electricity and gas from the previous tenant’s supplier
- your existing fixed term contract has expired and, under the terms of that contract, the supplier will be entitled to charge you using a deemed rate.
Deemed rates are generally a lot higher than the average market unit cost and than the price you would have agreed to pay with the supplier whose contract you did not renew.
To stop paying deemed rates, you need to give the supplier 30 days’ notice.
In the last 49 days of your existing contract, you will enter a renewal window. You can change to a new supplier during this window as long as you do not owe any outstanding cash to your current supplier.
Whereas some suppliers will convert you to a deemed rate charging model after the contract has expired, others will put you on a “rollover” contract if they have not been notified that you don’t want to continue with the contract or that you’re changing to a new supplier.
Some rollover contracts will tie you to another 12 months of supply often at rates much greater than you were paying beforehand.
What information do I need to provide to get a quote
When you’re in the process of either looking for a quote yourself or using a broker, please have the following information ready:
- a recent energy bill from the last three months
- business registration information
- current contract end date
- MPAN and MPRN numbers
- when your switching window opens
If you intend to use a broker, you’ll need to sign a consent form giving them permission to deal on your behalf with your current supplier and any future supplier.
Business energy comparison FAQ
How long does it take to switch?
Most companies aim to switch you over within 17 days. The renewal window is normally 49 days so, more often than not, your new supplier will start providing you with gas and electricity on the day your current contract ends.
What is green energy?
As business starts to decarbonise as part of society’s efforts to protect the planet, energy suppliers have begun to offer green energy contracts to both homeowners and businesses.
Because businesses use a lot more energy than individual homeowners, the beneficial impact to the wider environment by going green cannot be understated.
Traditionally, electricity was generated through the burning of fossil fuels – a finite resource. Green energy is used by generating electricity from biomass, wind, plants, and sunlight.
Some suppliers allow you to specify which types of energy you don’t want included in your mix. Although it looks likely to be banned in the UK, had it been given the go-ahead, you might have asked your supplier not to include energy derived from fracking.
Should I use a broker or do it myself?
Brokers work with a panel of suppliers. Their job is to find the right deal for a business by matching them with the energy company which can deliver the gas and electricity they need at an affordable price backed up by responsive and reliable customer services.
Brokers, of course, don’t work for free. They receive their pay as either a commission from the energy company, via a mark-up on the unit price, or by a consulting fee.
While you could do all of the work a broker could do on your behalf, it will take you a lot longer to find the right deal for your business doing it yourself. Do you have the time to do that? Will taking you away for up to 3 days to do a deal with one of over 40 suppliers do your business more harm than good?
In order to give yourself the widest possible choice, you should consider using two brokers at once. Please check before engaging a broker that they do ask for a sole agency contract because you would be, for a short time, contractually stopped from working with another broker concurrently.
You could let us doing the searching for you. Just fill out the form at the top of this page – we’ll find what we believe to be the three most competitive quotes on your behalf. Our service is free and there’s no obligation on you to accept any offer we find.