Things to consider when choosing a business energy supplier

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Choosing a business energy supplier isn’t rocket science – but choosing the wrong supplier could cost you £200 to £2,000 on your annual energy bill!

Here at EnergyBillKill, we know all too well about the price disparity between business energy suppliers. 

Some offer rates that are 20% cheaper than the competition on any given day, and we are here to make sure you get those rates. 

When you switch with EnergyBillKill, you can compare rates from small and big suppliers in one place, and our special relationship with the best suppliers means we can offer even better rates than you’ll find going direct. 

Of course, price isn’t everything – there are other things to consider too. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss the main things to think about when choosing a business energy supplier to make sure you end up with a good one. 

1.Tariff suitability 

There are three main types of business energy tariff:

  • Fixed – gives you a fixed rate per kWh for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years 
  • Variable – energy rates go up or down with wholesale prices
  • Flexible / rollover – a monthly rolling contract with variable rates 

Some suppliers offer all 3 tariffs – some only offer fixed tariffs. It’s important you choose a tariff that matches your business’s needs.

2. Customer reviews

The most popular and active review website is Trustpilot and we recommend you look at the reviews here above other review sites. 

Choosing an energy supplier with good reviews is important because it is a good gauge of the customer experience you can expect. 

Something to bear in mind though is that unhappy customers are more inclined to leave a review than happy customers. This means most energy suppliers have a negative lean that looks bad when you first see it. Read the reviews and judge for yourself.

3. Complaints handling record 

Citizens Advice compiles data for complaints handling. For the period October 2019 to December 2019, the top 10 non-domestic energy suppliers were:

  1. E.ON
  2. Contract Natural Gas
  3. SSE
  4. EDF
  5. Utility Warehouse
  6. Total Gas & Power
  7. Opus Energy
  8. Haven Power
  9. British Gas
  10. Dual Energy 

4. Green credentials 

We conducted a study earlier this year and found 70% of SME and microbusiness owners care about green energy, and 42% of business owners believe businesses will not give money to non-green suppliers within the next 5 years.

Clearly, green credentials are very important to businesses. 

If you feel the same, you can check the green credentials of any energy supplier by reviewing their fuel mix.

In the United Kingdom, all energy suppliers are legally obligated to disclose their fuel mix as part of the Fuel Mix Disclosure. This is the mix of fuels (gas, coal, nuclear, etc.) used to produce the electricity they supply to their customers. 

There are several 100% green suppliers out there. SSE, British Gas, E.ON, Ecotricity, and Good Energy are just a handful of examples. 

5. How easy is it to switch? 

Our previously linked study looked into why 50% of businesses never switch. We found that most businesses consider the process to be too complicated. 

We will admit that some energy suppliers are easier to switch with than others. They all follow the same basic process, but the way they handle switching depends on their internal process and the team handling the switch. 

In addition to looking at reviews to see what customers have to say about their switching experience, you can look at the estimated timeframes on the supplier website. Most suppliers tell you how long it takes to switch with them. 

You can also choose a supplier that lets you track your switch online. There are several energy suppliers that let you do this now.  

6. Deemed and out of contract rates 

You will be moved on to out of contract rates if you allow your energy contract to renew automatically without negotiating a new deal. Your rates will then be ‘out of contract’ rates which are considerably higher than contract rates.

Deemed rates are charged when there has never been a contract in place between you and the utility company. A good example is if you move into new premises and there’s an existing electricity supply in place.  

Deemed rates and out of contract rates are sometimes one and the same, and the terms are often used interchangeably by energy suppliers. 

With deemed and out of contract rates, the solution is to switch over to a contract. This can be with the existing supplier or a new one, depending on who gives you the best deal. In any case, you should always shop around. 

7. Can you scale your energy requirements? 

If your business starts to grow and suddenly requires a lot more energy, it is useful to have a supplier who’s open to renegotiating your rates. 

More energy use = lower prices per kWh, so you will be in a good position to negotiate a better contract. HOWEVER, you will be under contract – so your energy supplier will have no obligation to offer cheaper rates before your renewal. 

Planning ahead is important, and since you can never be sure if your supplier would help you if you suddenly needed more energy, we recommend looking at the supplier’s cancellation and exit fees before signing up. 

Lower cancellation fees mean cancelling and switching your supplier won’t be as much of a burden if you suddenly need more energy. You might not need to, but it’s always good to know there’s an affordable way out if you need it. 

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