Energy broker, Kevan Enticott, explains how to avoid the headache of unexpected energy bills for your business, and the consequences of not doing so for years to come.
The overriding reason for an unexpectedly high electricity or gas bill for a business, is a failure to provide any meter readings to the energy supplier, says Kevan.
If your energy supplier doesn’t receive meter readings for your premises, then they have no choice but to estimate the meter readings on every bill they send you. What happens if they underestimate your readings? Every month you allow them to do so, you are placing your business more and more in debt. Many businesses have come to us over the years with bills they are struggling to pay off because no meter readings have been provided for a year or more.
We don’t complain when the energy bills for our business are low
And here lies the problem. We don’t complain when energy bills are lower than expected. You may not even check the bill to ensure all is in order – although on receipt of a large bill we are straight on the phone to the supplier to see what is going on.
It is usually the months (or years) of smaller, underestimated bills that result in the large bill we call our energy company about. They have finally taken a meter reading, and this has resulted in a ‘catch up’ bill which is now putting pressure on your company finances.
There are no set rules to state whether the customer or supplier has the responsibility to take meter readings at a business premises. You cannot rely upon your energy company to chase you for a meter reading. Therefore, take ownership yourself and give your energy company regular meter readings.
Do you know if your energy bills are based on estimated readings?
A simple check of your electricity and gas bills when they arrive will avoid all these issues, saving you time, aggravation and money.
A bill based on estimated meter readings, should clearly highlighted on the first page. You can also check the page with the meter readings. An ‘E’ next to the reading will indicate an estimated reading.
The smart meter rollout
Most businesses are aware of the government smart meter rollout, to be completed by the end of 2020. These will instantly solve the issue of estimated bills.
However, it is not always that easy to get a smart meter installed. It can depend on the supplier and where in the country you are situated.
Some energy companies have started to contact customers to arrange smart meter installation for their business. They will generally target customers in a few areas of the country at a time. By waiting for your energy company to contact you, the installation will be free of charge. It depends on the supplier, but if you were contact them to request an installation, you can generally expect to be charged for it.
Please note that many suppliers are not yet installing smart meters for multi-rate meters. Or for three phase meters. It is also worth checking whether the smart meter you have asked for will be compatible with other suppliers. Some energy companies we have spoken to have advised that other suppliers will not be able to access the data on their smart meters – an issue if you want to switch to another supplier in the next year or two. Although in this situation they can still be read as a standard meter. When these suppliers start to install the next generation of smart meters, switching supplier will not be a problem.
Long-term consequences of estimated readings
Until you can get your hands on a smart meter, please ensure you provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier. Ideally every month, but at least quarterly. This forces your supplier to invoice your business up to that reading, ie. for the electricity or gas, you have used.
Failure to do so, could leave you in a lot of debt to your energy supplier, with further implications still. For example, at the end of your contract even if you find a better price with another company, your current supplier will object to the transfer if you owe them money.
A large debt can affect your credit rating, and therefore limit the suppliers who will offer you an energy contract. We have even seen cases where a company’s energy supplier has objected to the transfer away, but has also refused a fixed rate contract based on the poor credit score, leaving their customer on higher, out of contract rates.
For more advice, you can contact Kevan Enticott on 020 3372 6517. http://perfect-clarity.com/
About Perfect Clarity:
A leading UK independent business energy broker, businesses of all sizes use our free service to lower the price they pay for gas and electricity. Our buying power brings lower business gas and business electricity prices.