Running a successful business requires many skills, which include keeping your overheads as low as possible. Your energy costs can form a large part of your overheads, depending on the type of business you run.
Ensuring you have the right type of business energy meter installed can help you track and control your costs.
Comparing business energy deals to make sure you’re paying the cheapest rates for your energy is the best way to keep your energy overheads down. But having the correct meter installed can also make all the difference when it comes to monitoring and controlling your energy costs.
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The best commercial energy meters
Having the right meter can help reduce your energy bills by giving you a clear idea of exactly how much energy you're using each month. If your bills are estimated, this means your actual usage isn’t being measured and can lead to you either underpaying or overpaying for the gas and electricity you use.
In this instance, it’s worth getting a business smart meter installed which accurately tracks your usage and automatically sends exact readings to your suppliers. If you don’t want a smart meter – perhaps because you don’t want the hassle of having to change your meter if you switch suppliers -– it might be worth investing in a business energy monitor instead. This will help you track your usage without being linked to your supplier.
It's not all about saving money, though. As the UK moves towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050, the onus is on business owners to improve their energy efficiency and take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Getting a head start won’t just save your business money, it could also make your business eco-friendlier. Environmentally-minded businesses will attract customers as they check the eco-credentials of the companies they use.
Types of business energy meter
The type of commercial energy meter you need will depend on the type of business you run. The energy requirements for a manufacturing business will be different from those of an estate agency, for example.
Like your meters at home, there are two common meter types – standard and smart.
- Smart meters for business – these work in the same way as your smart meter at home, automatically sending readings to your energy supplier via wireless technology. They enable you to check how much you use in real time, showing you the times of day when your demand peaks. In this way, smart electricity meters will even allow you to pinpoint the most energy-hungry appliances in your business.
- Standard meters – the old-style standard meters need manual readings sent to your energy company on a regular basis, usually monthly. While smart meters are the future, many businesses with low energy consumption will still have a standard meter. This makes it more difficult to monitor and control your energy usage.
- Economy-7/Economy-10 meters – these charge two different rates, one for daytime and a lower one at night. If you have one of these meters you might benefit from running high energy usage appliances at night, if possible.
- Specialist meters – there are meters designed specifically for evening, weekend and night-time consumption. Bars and nightclubs might use this type of meter.
- Half-hourly (HH) meters – if your business is a high user of electricity you might have a half-hourly meter. HH meters are a legal requirement for businesses that use 100 KVA (kilo volt amperes) or more electricity during peak times.
Before booking a new business energy meter installation, it’s worth running an energy audit to find out how and when your business uses energy and work out ways to help cut your usage.
How do I get new commercial energy meters installed?
Modern electricity meters and smart meters can be installed quickly and with minimal fuss and disruption. You’ll probably only be without electricity for around half an hour. New gas meters may take a little longer but will hopefully have less impact on your business, depending on what you use your gas for.
To get new meters installed, you just need to contact your energy supplier and ask them to arrange it. You can do this at the same time as you compare and switch your business energy supplier.
To get a new commercial electricity meter installed you’ll need your Metering Point Administration Number (MPAN).
The MPAN is a unique reference number used by energy companies to identify your property and your account with them. MPAN numbers normally consist of 21 digits and begin with the letter ‘s’. You should be able to find yours on an energy bill.
If you do not have a recent energy bill, or are still not sure what your MPAN is, you can call your current energy supplier and they’ll give it to you.
To get a new business gas meter installed you’ll need your Meter Point Reference Number (MPR/MPRN). This number is unique to the property and lets energy suppliers quickly gain details about the location and the type of supply that’s currently connected there.
If you’re not sure of your MPR number, or whether you even have one, you can contact the National Grid and ask for one for your premises.
Do I need a new commercial electricity meter?
If your current electricity meter was in place before you occupied the premises, it might be set up at a level that’s too high for your business.
Your Kilo Volt Amperes [KVA] figure represents the total amount of electricity you can draw from the national grid at any one time. You will pay more if your KVA allowance is high.
So it’s important to know how much you use before signing a contract with a new energy supplier. If you’re not likely to use a huge amount of electricity, you need to make sure you aren’t paying for a service you don’t need.
While it’s pretty rare to have a high KVA figure, there are circumstances where it may be too high. For example, if you’re in new premises, the previous tenant could have used lots more machinery than you – meaning the building’s KVA is set too high for your business.
Another thing to think about is whether your electricity supply is single or 3-phase. Single phase is for running things such as lighting and heating, while you’ll need a 3-phase power supply for running heavy machinery.
How much does new electric meter installation cost in the UK?
The cost of a new electricity meter installation will depend upon who supplies your business energy and the type of meter you need. The location where your meter will be fitted, and the type of electric meter you have chosen could also affect your installation costs.
Your supplier will have its own installation costs to consider too, so it’s always worth negotiating with them to help keep the price down.
Do I need a new business gas meter?
If you don’t know where your business gas meter is installed and you don’t provide your supplier with regular meter readings, there’s a good chance you’re paying too much for your gas. Unless you're supplying your energy supplier with accurate readings every month, your monthly gas bills will only be estimates.
This means they may be much higher than you actually use. Or if you're underpaying for your energy, your supplier will get wise to it eventually, and you could find your business ends up heavily in debt to them.
If you have an old meter installed, it may be giving inaccurate readings which, again, could see you under or overpaying each month.
A new smart business gas meter installation will give you accurate readings anytime you want, at the touch of a button. And this gets rid of the hassle of having to contact your energy supplier each month.
How much does a new commercial gas meter installation cost in the UK?
New gas meter installation costs will vary according to who supplies your business energy and the type of meter you need.
You'll need to know what your maximum gas requirement is. In other words, the total amount of gas that appliances in your business could use in one hour. If you’re not sure, you can ask the National Grid, or have a CORGI-registered engineer check your appliances.
You’ll already know if you need high-pressure gas services. If you do, let your supplier know. High pressure services will be more expensive than low or medium requirements.
The location of your new meter and your supplier’s installation costs will also affect how much you pay, but it’s always worth negotiating with them to help keep the price down.
How long does it take to install a new business energy meter?
The time it takes to install your new commercial energy meter will depend upon your supplier and your location, but it usually takes between five days and two weeks.
If you’re having an additional meter fitted at your premises, it can take up to 12 weeks, especially if further work is necessary as part of the installation. If you do need to have a new energy meter fitted, it’s worth arranging the installation as soon as possible. And only ever use an accredited installer.