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Avoiding energy bill hikes this winter

Not to sound all Game of Thrones, but winter is coming! And with it comes colder weather which increases demand for gas and electricity. So, what does this mean for small businesses and their energy bills?

Supply and demand

Energy supply and demand are becoming increasingly weather dependent. The clocks are due to go back at the end of this month, which will mean longer, colder nights. The country will be turning the heating up, keeping lights on for longer and generally using more energy at home and in the workplace. The more energy consumed, the higher energy bills could be.

It’s not just supply that is an issue when it comes to weather. Extreme weather conditions like rain and snow can cause power cuts, as they can damage power lines and energy distribution centres. This can also result in high repair costs for energy suppliers, which adds an extra consideration for providers when discussing their winter energy pricing.

A positive outlook for winter 2018/19

National Grid ESO released their Winter Outlook report earlier this month presenting their view of security of supply for the electricity and gas systems for the coming winter. It has been predicted that the UK need not worry about an energy shortage this winter. Even though we are expected to experience colder weather conditions than experienced in recent years, products and strategies have been put in place to help balance the gas and electricity networks.

It looks as though we’ll be receiving coal this Christmas! Having spent a large part of the summer effectively forced off the grid, coal is expected to make a comeback throughout the forthcoming winter owing to price signals. Gas has historically been cheaper than electricity, but surging gas prices are expected to result in higher electricity prices from gas-fired power stations this winter. As a result, National Grid ESO now says that coal will likely replace gas-fired plants in the generation merit order for at least some of the winter.

Although the winter outlook seems promising at this stage, business owners still need to carefully consider their consumption as we move into the colder months.

What can you do?

There are ways of avoiding the energy cost rises that come with the winter weather, from securing a fixed procurement contract while prices are low, to implementing energy efficiency measures.

It’s important to practice energy efficiency in the winter months and there are some small changes that could make a big difference to your energy bills. As the darker nights draw in, there will of course be an increased demand for artificial light. By installing LED lightbulbs or, better yet, installing a motion detector, you can avoid wasting energy.

We need to turn up the heat in winter, however being clever with where and when you heat could also save your business money. Don’t waste time and money heating up areas you never use and keep any eye on your thermostat temperature. Reducing it by just 2 degrees might not make a noticeable difference physically, but it could make a big difference to your energy bills.

You’d be surprised what poor insulation can mean for a building. Double-glazed windows and doors will take care of pesky draughts, which means the heat you are paying for won’t escape. Upgrading the equipment you use in your business could also reduce energy consumption. New equipment comes with new technologies which are constantly improving to use less energy and Christmas is a great time to grab some deals on laptops and computers.

All of the above will improve energy efficiency within your business, however it all means nothing if you don’t educate and encourage your staff to think about their energy usage during the colder months and involve them in the efficiency objectives you wish to implement in your business.

Expert advice

If your energy contract is due for renewal this winter, it is still possible to find the best energy tariff for your business. Inenco’s team of experts are on hand to offer their expertise. For advice on how your energy deal or supplier may be affected this winter, or to discuss your energy efficiency objectives, call us on 0800 408 1499 or email