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%).
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.
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.
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 market share of gas and electricity suppliers.
Most say they’re ‘fairly satisfied’ or ‘neither satisfied nor dissatisfied’.
Level of satisfaction of customers with their respective suppliers.
Businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are the most likely to be dissatisfied with their energy supplier.
41% switched their energy supplier in the last year, compared to 61% in Q3.
33% of microbusinesses have switched, compared to 41% of small businesses and 58% of medium businesses.
Saving money is the biggest reason why people switch.
49% plan to switch in the next 12 months, compared to 52% in Q3 and 56% in Q2.
32% say they’d like to do something about their business energy bills, but it's so confusing that they don't know where to start.
64% of those who haven’t switched don’t plan to switch in the next 12 months either.
Being happy with their supplier is the biggest reason for not switching, while 19% say it’s not a priority and 18% say too much hassle (compared to 13% and 11% in Q3).
61% do their own research before switching energy supplier, while 36% use an energy broker.
43% say that there's no competition in the market, all the suppliers are the same, so there's no point switching, compared to 30% in Q3.
52% say that business energy is a competitive market and they regularly shop around, compared to 63% in Q3.
Price rises of 9-10% would cause the biggest number of businesses to act. In total, 49% of business would act if prices rose by 10% or less.
30% say they don’t know how much prices would have to rise before they’d act, compared to 21% in Q3, and 25% in Q2.
37% of medium businesses would switch if prices rose by 6% or less.
38% of microbusinesses say they don’t know how much prices would have to rise for them to act.
90% say it will have an impact on their business if energy prices continue to increase by 15% every year.
8% say it would be catastrophic and would force them out of business.
98% of medium businesses say it would have an impact and 44% say it would be catastrophic or very serious.
65% have introduced or strengthened policies to save energy, up from 57% in Q3.
67% have changed to energy-efficient lighting.
12% have installed an energy management system.
21% have installed a smart meter - but 23% wouldn’t consider, up from 21% in Q3 and 13% in Q2
48% have improved building insulation.
25% have put a member of staff in charge of energy efficiency, but 45% wouldn’t consider it.
10% are generating their own renewable energy, and 40% would consider it.
10% have swapped in-house servers for an external data centre.
30% have got new equipment or machinery which is more energy-efficient, and 50% would consider it.
51% have tried to make their use of heating or air conditioning more efficient, up from 46% in Q3.
3% aren’t confident that they know this basic detail.
79% are sure they know who their energy supplier is.
74% are sure that they know how much they pay a month.
This number drops when it comes to unit rates (55%) and standing charges (58%).
Small and medium businesses are more likely to know contract details than microbusinesses, and businesses that switch are more likely to know them too.
24% aren’t sure that they know how much energy they use.
11% aren’t sure of the exact date their business energy contract is due to end.
23% aren’t sure that they know how much notice they need to give to cancel their contract.