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Retailers paying over the odds given helping hand on utility bills

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Signing up to a new scheme run by utility brokers Business Energy Consultants could save retailers £1000 on their energy bills every year. Business Energy Consultants (BEC) work with hundreds of companies all over the UK to negotiate cheaper utility bills, including gas, electricity, water and telecoms. They promise to save every company a minimum of £999 on their annual bills when an organisation switches three utilities to BEC. If this saving is not met, the difference is refunded.

This news comes as research from Oxford University warns that retailers may be paying larger energy bills than they need to as a result of not managing their energy use, even those with smart meters. The report says that organisations with smart meters can be swamped by the amounts of information they have to analyse, whilst those with manual do not have enough of the relevant data required to optimise performance. The research was conducted as part of the new initiative WICKED - short for Working with Infrastructure, Creation of Knowledge, and Energy strategy Development – and the Oxford research team is seeking to work with retailers to help them find more efficient ways of managing their energy consumption through the use of big data analytics.

Dr Kathryn Janda of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute said the team will aim to develop “smarter meters” that also measure energy services, allowing retailers for the first time to see the breakdown of energy usage, divided up into areas such as light, heat, and building humidity. “By using big data analytics, we will turn numbers into knowledge and provide retailers of all sizes with actionable insights to how they could use energy more wisely,” she added. “The project promises real business potential in helping to cut energy bills and reduce energy consumption in the long term.”

Other organisations, such as the Energy Technologies Institute is this week seeking funding to develop a new Home Energy Management System (HEMS), a prototype that will control conventional heating systems, such as a gas central heating boiler, but have the flexibility to enable other heating system types to be controlled at a later date.

In the meantime, retailers will no doubt appreciate the help offered by BEC, especially after last year’s release of a Citizens Advice survey that showed that the big six suppliers will have increased their prices by 37 percent since October 2010. BEC’s strategy is to first evaluate an organisation’s usage as a basis for negotiating new contracts, with access to changing tariffs so they can arrange the most cost effective deal for each individual customer. By assessing each organisation on a case-by-case basis, they can find the most cost-effective deal, as well as ensuring that their clients are paying the correct rate of VAT, as this varies from industry to industry. For example, by signing up to a longer contract with a fixed higher price than a one year contract at a lower rate.

James Longley, MD at BEC, explains “Energy and utility costs are a significant expense for the retail industry, seriously impacting on profit margins. As energy prices continue to rise, we are working with retailers and associated businesses to save substantial amounts by finding better tariffs and contracts. We have an expert team that are dedicated to finding the right fit for each individual client.”

Published on Thursday 02 October by Editorial Assistant

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