How to switch business energy suppliers

By Joe Francis Updated 28th Oct 2019

While it’s very easy to overlook the important of gas and electric, your business would soon notice the difference if the service became interrupted. They are the fundamental features for powering the company’s premises, ensuring that productivity and profitability remain at a constant high. Frankly, finding a reliable supplier that can provide a winning service at the right price should be one of the top items on the agenda. If you’re not happy with the current service, now is the time to make a switch.

Unfortunately, not knowing how to switch business energy suppliers in the right way can make the process feel a little daunting, which can encourage you to keep persisting with an inferior solution. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to finally regain control of your energy supply in style.

Why should you switch business energy suppliers?

Let’s face it; your business relies on efficient energy supplies at every minute of every day. So, despite the fact that it may seem as though the contrasts between one supplier and the next are relatively minimal, the impact on your commercial endeavours can be monumental.

The right choice of energy supplier can generate a wide range of benefits for the company, including but not limited to;

  • Cut your business running costs
  • Gain greater dependency – businesses use a far greater volume of energy than home, and a provider that has the capacity to satisfy your needs is crucial. There’s nothing worse than a power outage due to poor supplies.
  • Gain peace of mind – similarly, knowing that your business energy needs are in safe hands will enable you to actually focus on running the company.
  • Provide a better customer experience – inefficient business energy supplies won’t only take their toll on productivity. Disruptions will also harm the clients, harming everything from customer care to their shopping habits.
  • Generate financial savings – through choosing the most cost-effective supplier as well as a tariff that is tailored to your business requirements.
  • Encourage further improvements – embracing positive habits in relation to energy supplies will encourage you to do the same with security, web hosting, and other key business features that are often overlooked and ignored.

Essentially, then, switching to the right business energy supplier can genuinely impact daily productivity while also supporting your balance. The fact that those rewards can extend to employees and customers only further vindicates the decision to pay greater attention to your energy supplier situation.

How does business energy differ from household energy?

Given that business energy rates are rarely mentioned by politicians, it’s not uncommon for users to assume that domestic and commercial contracts are virtually the same. In truth, there are some very big contrasts between the two. Therefore, it’s important to analyse the differences between the two in a number of key areas.

Contract

The contract lengths on both domestic and commercial deals start at 28 days, but the business energy contracts can last anything up to 5 years. Perhaps more importantly, there is no cooling-off period on business deals as companies are expected to enter contracts willingly. As fixed priced solutions, there is no early exit option either whereas household energy supplies often offer this as well as variable rates.

Pricing

Business energy rates are far cheaper per unit of energy due to the far greater volumes, meaning suppliers can afford to offer better rates. Moreover, the pricing methods are often bespoke solutions rather than the generic models used for residential services. Pricing can be influenced by credit scores, location, business type, contract length, and other features. This is not the case with household pricing.

Other factors

While the pricing is advantageous for businesses, it should be noted that they are expected to pay tax of 20% compared to just 5% for household energy rates. It should also be noticed that the supplier pricing is based on the recent market, which is a direct contrast from the situation surrounding domestic energy rates. Business clients can often have multiple meter types to choose from, not just the Standard 1 rate or Economy 7 option.

Which UK business energy suppliers are best?

Appreciating the need for a suitable energy provider is one thing, but actually finding the right service is another altogether. While several steps need to be taken along the road to success, selecting the right energy company is the perfect starting point.

The most obvious starting point would be the Big Six. These are the largest suppliers in the country, and you’ve probably heard of them all. They are;

  • British Gas
  • EDF Energy
  • E.On
  • nPower
  • Scottish Power
  • SSE

They all have their pros and cons, which is why it’s important to weigh up the different elements against your realistic requirements. British Gas, for example, offers a lower electricity quote on a standard 20,000 Kwh/year deal compared to EDF. However, EDF’s out of contract electricity rates (Kwh and day rates) are cheaper.

There are various independent services on the market too. Bulb, Extra Energy, and Robin Hood Energy are three of the most popular suppliers for small businesses. Alternatively, eco-friendly energy suppliers that use renewable energy can be picked too. Bulb is one of them, while Ecotricity and Solarplicity are also very suitable solutions.

While it will take some research to know which is right for your company, the extra effort will be rewarded with a far better outcome that will allow you to reap the aforementioned rewards for many years to come.

What to consider when switching energy

If you are ever to find the right business energy supplier for your requirements, it’s essential that you take all necessary key factors into account. The truth is that the various big energy suppliers will all provide a reliable service – after all, they don’t supply the infrastructure and power lines – so you can place your focus on the issues that actually relate to your business needs.

There are several influential factors that need to be considered, including but not limited to;

Size of business

No two businesses have the same requirements, and the various business energy suppliers reflect this. Some provide a brilliant package for smaller operations with minimal needs while others are better suited to bigger premises with lots of office equipment, heavy machinery, and items that use gas and electricity. Therefore, taking the size of your operation (in terms of physical size and the level of usage) will help point you in the right direction.

Length of stay

As already mentioned, getting out of a business contract is very tough unless your company folds. So, it’s important to weigh up the length of the contract against your realistic business aims. If you are a new startup that is working from a temporary destination or venue until the company is established, you may wish to choose a short-term contract. Being tied down by a long-term agreement could seriously harm your commercial future.

Expansion plans

The idea of keeping one eye on the future can extend to business growth plans on the current site. Finding a plan that works well for your immediate needs but will cost you a fortune when you need to grow could spell disaster. Some suppliers are happy to upgrade your tier of service before the end of your current deal, but may require you to take out a new fixed-term plan when you do. Understanding the full details of any plan prior to agreement is vital.

Time of use

While you would be forgiven for thinking that the prices simply relate to how much energy is used per day/week/month, it’s not always the case. The underlying market price changes every half hour or so, which is why there is a lot of volatility. Essentially, peak charges (when energy consumption across the country is at its highest) and off-peak charges can be vastly different. Consequently, then, you must take extra care to weigh up these elements.

Of course, your business may need to consider the eco-friendly elements, especially if you present yourself as an environmentally-conscious venture. Other issues to consider include the customer care and the ability to tailor the services according to your needs.

What types of tariff are there?

When looking at the different tariffs, once of the first things you must do is understand the types of charges. As with domestic bills, the bulk of your charges will be made up from;

  • Unit cost – the rate at which you pay for gas and electricity, which will be measured in kWh.
  • Standing charge – the daily rate to cover the costs of maintaining infrastructure on the national grid.

While it is almost certain that you will be on a fixed-rate contract for the majority of your business endeavours, there are additional contract types that you should at least understand. They are as follows;

  • Variable-rate – while almost unseen, it is an option in which the costs are linked to the market prices, meaning your costs can go up or down from month to month even when your usage remains consistent.
  • Deemed rate – an out-of-contract deal, meaning you are free to change supplier and tariff whenever you like It’s usually the most expensive.
  • Rollover – a rolling agreement that is made when you have not confirmed a deal during the build-up to the end of the previous deal.
  • 28-day – an option that is open exclusively to companies that have not changed supplier since the UK business energy market was deregulated.

How to switch business energy supplier

When you do decide that switching energy supplier is the right option for your business, the actual process of making it happen is very easy to master. So, while the research into your situation could be a little time-consuming, the process of finding the right service and making the change itself could not be simple.

Follow the simple steps below to secure the best deal for your business;

  • Check that your current supply is expired or up for renewal and not within a fixed-term contract that cannot be cancelled without a fine.
  • Use Compary to compare the various services in a flash, dragging up prices and term agreements related to your individual requirements.
  • Confirm that the chosen supplier and tariff is right, being sure to consider the long-term expansion plans as well as the immediate requirements.
  • Contact the new supplier and confirm that you are eligible for the desired tariff, and ask how quickly it can be done.
  • Confirm the switch and wait for it to take place, which could take 3 weeks. Use this tie to download any Apps or account-related facilities.

When doing this, you should also be sure to chase any refund you are due from being in credit with the old supplier. Alternatively, you may be required to settle the closing balance on your existing agreement.

FAQs

This is not a necessity, especially if you only need a computer and an internet connection. However, it is an option that you may wish to consider, especially when you want to claim this expense against your earnings. The chances are that the choice between business and domestic electricity won’t impact your service too much. If you have an accountant, ask them about the full financial details.

When switching energy supplier, you will need to provide a number of features. They are; name of current supplier and name of existing tariff, your energy consumption rate, a recent meter reading of your energy usage, details of the payment method, and your location. This info should be enough to get the ball rolling.

In a word, no. As mentioned, the business electricity provider won’t be responsible for adding the infrastructure or pylons. As such, they can complete the switchover remotely and with minimal hassle or disruption. A new meter or internal facilities may be added at some stage, but even this can be arranged at a convenient time.