Smart Meters For Business Energy- What do they mean for your business?
As the Government rolls out Smart Meters for business energy across Britain, it is essential that you understand the scope of impact that they may have on your small business. This is our assessment of the situation.
What Is The Upside Of Smart Meters For Small Businesses Energy Needs?
The Smart Meter initiative currently being rolled out across Britain, is a good idea in theory. Installing Smart Meters for business energy will give consumers in the small business community, and energy suppliers alike, unprecedented levels of information about their business energy usage, which will reveal ways to not only keep business energy usage down, but almost as important, keeping costs down. Many smart meter tariffs also come with an online login where a business owner or manager can view all their bills in an electronic format easily. In these areas by looking at usage and spend by time of day you may also be able to identify energy wastage that is unnecessarily costing you money.
The rollout is also a positive move in terms of creating a more accurate billing system, which leads to less confusion amongst customers whilst still helping to achieve the goal of reducing our global environmental footprint.
Well This All Sounds Great for Business Energy needs…But What’s The Catch?
If we fast-forward to the year 2020, the date in which the law has required all small businesses have their Smart Meters installed, the programme should be working quite smoothly. But along the way toward the official start date, consumers could experience a bit of a bumpy ride on business energy smart meters.
The Business Energy Smart Meter rollout officially began this year, and must be completed, by law, by the year 2020. However, due to the lack of coordination surrounding the business energy smart meter rollout, many suppliers have started to offer their business energy customers smart meters right now, which given the lack of system integration and compatibility issues could cause more than a few headaches for small business owners along the way.
For business energy customers who have already begun having Smart Meters installed, we’re seeing increasing failures in switch attempts, due to compatibility issues. So, whilst your business energy Smart Meter may work with your current business energy provider, other providers may not possess the capacity to supply your meter, and even if they could, they may not be able to support its “smart” features, thus relegating your high-priced investment back to a “dumb” meter once again.
Furthermore, some energy providers have decided to add a daily standing charge to smart meter tariffs, which range anywhere from 20 pence to 60 pence per day (that’s £73 to £219 per year).
I’d Still Like To Get A Smart Meter for my Business Energy…What Should I Be Aware Of?
If you already have a Business Energy Smart Meter, or you think you’d like to get one installed, here’s our top five tips that will help you to get the most out of your business energy meter:
- Thoroughly research the business energy meter. Ask your energy supplier which technology platform is supported by your meter, and whether or not it is supported by other suppliers.
- Rental charges. Ask your business energy supplier about the length of your installation contract, and if you still need pay a rental fee if you eventually decide to switch over to another supplier.
- Negotiate at renewal. If you can switch business energy suppliers, you may be able to use this as leverage when negotiating future prices in order to get a better rate.
- Use your meter. Make the most out of your Business Energy Smart Meter’s features; analyse the ways in which you use energy, and use this information to keep future costs down.
- Accuracy. You’re now assuring yourself of only being billed for the energy you use, and will no longer be subjected to estimated billing!
Business Energy Smart Meters are the energy sectors next generation of measuring tools, offering a wide array of intelligent functions. These functions include telling you how much business energy you are using through a display in your home, and even communicating directly with your business energy supplier, meaning no longer having to deal the hassle of someone having to come out read your meter.
Smart Meters For Business Energy also:
- Give you near real-time information on your business energy use, expressed in pounds and pence.
- Allow you to better manage your business energy usage, thereby saving you money and reducing emissions levels).
- Ensure accurate billing. You will only be billed for the energy you actually use.
The other significant advantage of having a Business Energy Smart Meter is that businesses will no longer be faced with estimated bills, which has an overarching impact on the business, ensuring that budgets and cash flow predictions can be more accurately forecast, which is an important factor when considering the economic climate of today.
A potential disadvantage to smart metering may restrict the ability for business energy users to switch to “any” provider. Depending on the type of smart meter installed, it may be that the new supplier has a different system, and all of the Smart Meter functions may not work with the new supplier’s system. Business energy users will need to check thoroughly with any potential new supplier before initiating a switch, that the functions required will be compatible and meet the requirements of the business.
Critics, however, have suggested that the introduction of Smart Meters may lead to abuse by business energy companies, in that whilst not charging businesses for Smart Meter installation, the cost will be passed onto the consumers via their business energy bills, thereby reducing costs to the energy companies once the meter is installed and not being passed onto the consumers.
The main objection from these energy suppliers is that with smart metering, consumers will see the savings made due to the reduction in business energy consumption, in turn encouraging them to be more aware of trying not to be wasteful and thereby lowering profits in the energy sector.
For suppliers, the main upside will be seeing significant savings on business energy supplies contributing to their balance sheet by not having to make site visits to read meters, along with reducing customer enquiries and the querying of bills.