Business gas and electricity for shops

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Gas and electricity bills for shops

As a shop owner, you’re no doubt aware of the importance of balancing the books – which is something that often has to take into account your energy bills. In order to minimise these bills and boost your bottom line, the most effective steps you can take are to switch supplier and adopt energy-saving habits.

It is important to regularly review your energy bills to make sure the amount you’re paying for energy is competitive. This is particularly the case if you haven’t switched in the last couple of years. When choosing a new energy contract, it is important to ensure the energy deal is suited to your business needs.

Understanding the energy bill for your shop

When examining your energy bill, there are two main charges that you’ll need to take into account: the unit rate and the standing charge. These two charges have the biggest impact on your energy bill and are the best point of comparison when looking for a new, better-value energy contract. 

The unit rate is the amount you pay for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy you use, while the standing charge is a set fee your supplier charges to provide you with energy. Standing charges apply for every day of your contract and are not affected by your usage. 

Your energy bill will also contain a set of other charges which can vary depending on your supplier, and should include some key information about your contract. This information includes:

  • Your contract end date: this is the date your current contract expires. It is important to keep this date in mind as you may be placed on a higher rate after this point if you don’t agree to a new deal.
  • Notice period end date: this is the date by which your supplier must receive notice that you intend to switch to a different deal at the end of your contract – and the date by which you need to arrange that switch. You may end up overpaying if you do not arrange a switch before this date.
  • Climate Change Levy (CCL): the CCL is a government-imposed tax that was introduced to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and adopt energy-efficiency measures at their premises. Each business customer pays a percentage of their bill towards the CCL. 
  • Value-Added Tax (VAT): the VAT is also a government-imposed tax that is charged on goods and services. VAT is charged either at 5% or 20%, with most business customers paying the latter amount on their energy bills. 

Energy saving tips for your shop

Having switched to the best available energy deal, you might consider other ways you can save money on your energy bills. Ensuring your shop is well-insulated and adopting energy-saving measures in respect to your lighting, heating and cooling systems can often have a big impact on the amount you need to pay for energy. The following are some simple energy saving and efficiency measures that could help reduce your usage:

Lighting

  • Replacing all standard bulbs with energy-efficient ones such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDS) could reduce lighting costs by up to 75%. Another option is compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) which also last up to eight times longer than conventional bulbs. If you use fluorescent tube lighting, slim line fluorescent tubes use 25% less electricity than regular tube lighting.
  • You might choose to install motion-activated lighting for areas of your shop that receive intermittent visitors. This includes stock rooms, toilets, staff rooms and even dressing rooms. 
  • Consider reducing your lighting once your shop has closed and your staff are working on stock taking, organising the store, cleaning, and carrying out other administrative tasks.
  • Daylight sensors ensure lights only come on when they are needed – and turn themselves off when there is enough daylight. These are particularly useful for any exterior lighting in areas such as car parks and signs.

Heating and cooling

One of the most effective ways of increasing the efficiency of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is by ensuring that your systems are properly managed. Ensure your heating only comes on when the outside temperatures is less than 13oC, but that your air conditioning is not turned on unless the outside temperature exceeds 23oC. Further tips when it comes to heating and cooling include:

  • Try turning down your thermostat by one degree to reduce consumption by around 8%.
  • Consider keeping temperatures low in areas of your shop that are not visited by customers, such as stock rooms and cellars.
  • Be wary of overheating your shop in the winter – your customers will likely be wearing warm outdoor clothing so may be made uncomfortable while shopping.
  • Try to keep external doors closed as much as possible to retain heat.
  • Insulate hot water pipes and boilers to help reduce wastage.
  • Consider using timers to turn off your heating and cooling systems around an hour before your store is due to close, and half an hour before it’s due to open.

Refrigeration

If your shop sells refrigerated goods, maintaining the temperature in the fridges could be accounting for half of your total electricity bill. Increasing the efficiency of your refrigeration can help you save on your usage costs. The steps you can take to do so include:

  • Avoid over-filling or under-filling refrigeration shelves.
  • Install insulating blinds and covers across your refrigeration units.
  • For non-perishable items, turn off refrigeration overnight when your shop is closed. 
  • Regularly inspect door seals to ensure they’re not damaged, and keep your refrigeration units clear of dust and dirt. 
  • Keep the space around the refrigeration units clear from clutter as this could restrict airflow and unnecessarily increase consumption.
  • Keep refrigeration at the correct temperatures for your products, but try to increase temperatures by 1oC if safe to do so. This could reduce energy consumption by 2-4%. 

Electrical equipment

  • Reduce the risk of energy being unnecessarily wasted by ensuring all electrical equipment and appliances are promptly switched off when not in use, instead of leaving them on standby mode. 
  • Try to choose efficient models when buying new equipment – look for an energy rating between A and D.
  • Keep your staff informed of the most efficient ways of using equipment and appliances to reduce accidental wastage.
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