More than two in every five (41%) micro-businesses have never switched energy suppliers. But if you’ve never switched your gas or electricity supplier, or at least not switched in the last couple of years, you’ll almost certainly save money on your energy bills by switching energy supplier to a different deal.
With many small businesses worried that they are either too busy or they lack the information needed switch, Iain Walker, head of SME at E.ON, offers five tips for businesses to think about when switching energy supplier.
1) Do your research
Know your consumption (this should be detailed on your renewal offer letter), and how much you normally pay, then get an accurate quote from a number of suppliers based on how much energy you use to make sure you are getting a good deal.
If you buy your energy through a broker or a Third Party Intermediary make sure they have signed up to the independent TPI Code of Practice so you have the reassurance that they meet tough guidelines on sales standards and behaviour.
Are you firmly focused on price, or is service or energy expertise also a priority? Check what other valuable services are offered by suppliers such as high quality customer service, web-based or mobile tools, energy efficiency help like E.ON’s market leading Energy Toolkit which offers sector-specific advice for small businesses and discounts on more energy efficient versions of power-hungry appliances such as lighting or air conditioning.
2) Don’t get distracted by low numbers
Remember to take note of what is included your initial offer price – and what isn’t – so you can compare products in a genuine like-for-like way.
For example, some suppliers offer ‘fixed’ products that can change over the course of a contract to reflect increases in the non-energy part of the bill such as transmission charges and government levies which can be as much as 40% of your total bill.
Make sure you look at the discounts available for options like online account management and Direct Debit payments and then you can then choose how you want to pay and whether you want to manage your account online. This is to make it easier to choose an energy tariff and compare between suppliers. Remember that tariff prices can vary from region to region.
3) Check what happens at the end of your contract
Some businesses may already know of the dreaded ‘automatic rollover’ contract where small businesses are automatically ‘rolled on’ to a new contract if they miss the window to change suppliers or negotiate a new deal.
At E.ON we led the market in banning automatic rollovers but some suppliers still enforce these contract terms for customers who don’t get in touch to renew their contract in time.
4) Have everything to hand
To start switching energy supplier, you’ll need the following information:
• Your postcode.
• Current gas and electricity supplier, and the name of your tariff (look at your latest bill, or contact your supplier).
• Your current contract end date and how much you spend (or use in kilowatt hours – kWh) on gas and electricity. You can find this on recent bills or the renewal offer sent by your supplier.
• Your bank details if you decide to switch and want to pay by Direct Debit.
5) Be ready on the day
On the day of the switch, your new supplier will ask for a meter reading at your new premises, to ensure you are billed at the right time for the right amount. Your new supplier will pass this reading onto your old supplier for them to bill you for any outstanding money you owe.
Your new supplier will then let you know the date when your contract with them will begin. Make sure you get contact numbers for both suppliers in case you need to call either of them during the process but you shouldn’t have to contact your old supplier, as your new supplier will contact them for you. If you’re in credit, check with your old supplier to make sure you get back any money you’re owed when switching energy supplier.