Andrew Richardson, Deputy CEO of Utilitywise, gives us advice on how to be more energy-savvy.

Earlier this month, the Competitions and Markets Authority reported that customers are 'paying too much' for their energy bills.

To stop this from happening, one of their strong recommendations was for consumers to make the market be more competitive and that they could do that through switching suppliers on a regular basis. When looking to businesses, 75% of them knows that there are savings to be made from switching but there are a range of perceived barriers that stop them doing so. The Utilitywise team have put together some of their best switching tips to help break down these barriers:

1. Understand how much energy you use:

many people find it difficult to think about energy in a tangible manner – it is just there. But depending on your business operation, headcount and premises, we all use varying amounts at different parts of the day. There are many elements we can't change – we need the lights on and technology to work – but by understanding the amount of energy you use as a business, you'll then be able to go some way to reducing it.

Andrew Richardson

Andrew Richardson

2. Get to grips with the terminology:

20% of small business owners in the UK often struggle to read their bills correctly, with 60% unable to identify the meaning of E (estimated) and A (actual) on their paperwork. Bills can contain a lot of jargon, but once you understand what it all means, you'll be able to have a sense of what you are paying for and keep watch for any errors.

3. Have a 'shop around' frame of mind:

businesses always do better when they look around for the best deals in all aspects of their day-to-day activity. However, this inquisitive and tenacious nature to get the best deals still needs to be applied more widely to utilities. Often thought of as complex and time-consuming, businesses need to understand that like many other suppliers and products, energy and utilities can be flexible too.

4. Know the facts and take away the hassle:

switching suppliers won't mean you lose your supply for a period of time, will have to complete reams of paperwork or cost you money up front, all common misconceptions for some business people. Instead, it is a very straightforward and simple process, when you are working with experts that can guide and advise you.

5. Educate your staff to save:

According to the Carbon Trust, small to medium office-based businesses waste nearly £350 every year by leaving computers, screens, and other hardware on standby – even when they're switched off at weekends and during public holidays. Put team members in charge of reminding colleagues of best practise and add incentives such as creating the best 'energy saving team' on a monthly basis. Often staff are not aware of the cost energy inefficiency can cause a business.

6. Keep your lighting and heating front of mind

A typical office has a temperature of between 19 to 21 degrees. Make sure your thermostats are set to this level and that they're functioning correctly. Understand the affects sunlight and draughts can have, and respond accordingly. Also, be clever about the savings that can be made when office hours are over, particularly at weekends. Lighting can also make a huge different to your monthly bills. Ask yourself if the workplace needs to be as bright as it is or could you look at alternative energy saving lighting options, particularly in the summer months. Small changes can make a big difference.

Businesses can learn about the energy options open to them through switching and the benefits this can bring by visiting: www.utilitywise.com/no-hassle-switching/

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