Our Business Energy Barometer takes the temperature of UK businesses and finds out which way the wind is blowing on a range of energy issues.
The data comes from a survey of 500 people who are responsible for energy in a business, conducted by Populus in November 2012.
Business energy suppliers
It probably won’t come as any surprise that the majority of businesses get their energy from one of the ‘Big Six’, although a few independent suppliers do make an appearance.
When it comes to customer service, SSE has the highest percentage of satisfied customers (68%), and ScottishPower the lowest (54%).
In the face of rising prices, businesses seem to be taking energy efficiency more seriously. There’s has been an increase in the number of businesses introducing or strengthening energy-saving policies and trying to make their use of heating and air conditioning more efficient since the last quarter.
However, businesses are still missing some big opportunities to cut their energy costs with greater efficiency – a growing number say they won’t install a smart meter, and a shocking 45% say they wouldn’t put a member of staff in charge of energy efficiency.
Many businesses don’t know crucial details about their business energy contract. The lack of awareness of contract end dates and termination windows is particularly important, as not knowing them puts businesses at risk of being rolled over to a new 12 month contract, which could be as much as 61% higher than typical market rates.
The results show that many businesses are worried about price rises – 8% of businesses (equivalent to 380,00 SMEs) say that prices rises of 15% a year would force them to close.
Domestic prices rises from five of the Big Six suppliers hit the headlines, but behind the scenes, business energy prices have been rising too – there’s been an increase of 12.8% so far this year, and that’s despite that fact that prices fell in late spring and early summer. Since January 2010, the average business energy bill has risen from £1,691.44 to £2,884.44 – a 70.5% increase.
There has been a 20% fall in the number of businesses switching their energy supplier since the last quarter, and a drop in the number of businesses planning to switch. There has also been a worrying rise in the number of businesses which say there’s no competition in the market and no point switching.
Collectively, the 43% of businesses that say that there’s no competition and no point switching are potentially missing out on savings of almost £1.8 billion.