Everything you need to know about business electricity
As a business owner, you may well be aware that business electricity rates and domestic electricity rates differ, and that switching to a better deal on commercial energy isn’t quite as straightforward sorting out a new tariff for your household energy.
If you’re unsure exactly how, or even why, you need to switch business electricity supplier, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about commercial electricity contracts and suppliers.
Why do you need a business electricity account?
Commercial energy use differs from domestic energy use, and your business will need a separate contract to reflect this.
If you’ve ever switched your household supply, you will have been offered a generic tariff, most likely with a 12-month fixed rate that’s based upon the amount of electricity you use each year. But when you switch your business supply, there are no generic tariffs on offer and rates are based upon a range of factors including the type of business you run, the size of its premises, and estimated usage. The supplier uses this estimate to give you a set amount to pay each month, and you can often tie in the rate you’re offered for up to five years.
If you run a large business with a high electricity demand, you may need to install a meter that sends readings to the supplier every half hour, instead of every hour. Check out our guide to half-hourly electricity meters for more information.
If your business has more than one location, or is based in one industrial-sized workspace, you might need to have multiple meters installed. Call 0800 088 6986 to talk to our business energy experts about multi-site metering.
What types of business electricity tariffs are available?
When comparing electricity quotes, you’ll find that most suppliers offer both flexible and fixed rate tariffs for electricity, and it’s up to you to decide which type will suit you better.
A fixed-rate contract is one which charges the same unit rate (measured in kWh) for the duration of the contract. Although your bills will go up and down according to the amount of electricity you use, the unit cost will stay the same, which can be helpful when budgeting.
A variable-rate contract, on the other hand, sees the unit rate increase and decrease throughout the duration of your contract, depending on market activity. Although this means your rate might drop, it can also go up if wholesale prices increase, so most businesses opt for fixed rate deals, to protect against fluctuating prices.
Flexible tariffs might be a good option if you don’t want to be tied into a deal for an extended, as many allow you to switch supplier with just 30-days’ notice. To switch from a fixed rate deal, you have to wait for the switching window, which can be anything up to six months before your contract’s end date.
You should also be aware that, unlike household energy, business energy deals don’t come with a dual fuel option.
How to get the best business electricity rates
The only way to make sure your business is on the best electricity rates is to compare quotes from a range of suppliers. If you do this yourself, you could find yourself on the phone for hours on end, repeating your details to multiple suppliers and noting down quotes from each.
If, on the other hand, you let the business energy experts at MoneySuperMarket take care of your switch, one call to 0800 088 6986 is all it takes to compare quotes from a panel of trusted suppliers and find the best electricity quote for your business. Alternatively, leave a few details in the box at the top of the page and we’ll give you a call back.
The more information you can give us, the more accurate quotes can return, so try to have the following information to hand (it should all be available on your latest bill):
- The name of your current electricity supplier
- The name of your tariff, and its end date
- Your supply type
- How much electricity your business uses
Once we return your quotes, you just need to let us know your preferred supplier and we’ll set up your new contract so you can start saving as soon as possible.
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to agree on a new deal until your current one enters its ‘renewal window’, and you’ll have to give notice to your current supplier – for more information, check out How to switch business gas and electricity.
And be aware that when you apply to switch a credit check will be carried out on your business and you may not be accepted for an energy contract if your business has a poor credit score. The switch might also be rejected if you’re in debt with your current supplier, at least until the debt is paid off.
How long does it take to switch electricity supplier?
While domestic switchers can enjoy cheaper electricity in as little as 17 days, business customers usually have to wait a little longer, as the switch can’t take place until the old contract has ended. This means the timing of the switch will be affected by how long is left on your current deal, and so the exact time it takes for the switch to complete will be different for each business – as a general rule of thumb though, you can expect the whole process to take between four-to-six weeks.
If you run a microbusiness, switching timescales should be more aligned with domestic deals, as Ofgem rules mean you can tell your energy supplier you want to switch at any point during your agreement, and if you’re on a fixed-term contract, your supplier must clearly show when your contract begins and ends, along with any notice periods.
It’s also worth noting that there should be no disruption to your supply at any point in the process – the same lines and equipment deliver the electricity to your property, it’s just the supplier that changes.
Call our energy experts now on 0800 088 6986 to run a commercial electricity comparison and find out exactly how much your business could save.