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Understanding utility bills

Operators in the catering industry have admitted they are baffled by the terminology on their utility bills. Moreover, with the general belief that energy prices are set to rise in the next year, failing to get a handle on utility bills can have a big impact on businesses’ bottom lines. Andrew Richardson, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Utilitywise urges operators not to stick their head in the sand as there are substantial savings to be made

Our latest poll proves that the energy market can be a confusing place, revealing that more than 1 in 10 business people within the catering sector admit they do not understand their commercial energy bill. In fact, 61% of catering business heads were unable to identify that E or A readings mean ‘estimated’ or ‘actual’ respectively, and more than a quarter of those in the industry did not understand the term unit rate – a problem that could be causing organisations to lose out on cash.

Understanding statements

Getting to grips with the basic jargon of utility bills is vital if businesses are to navigate the energy market and this starts with understanding your statements. The terminology may be confusing at times, but it is important to comprehend it, because it impacts a business’s bottom line. If you do not know that you are paying an estimated bill, for example, you could be in for a nasty surprise down the line when it transpires that you have being paying less than you should have been and need to make up the shortfall.

With more than 22,000 business customers, the team at Utilitywise believes passionately in making the energy sector easier to do business with. It should not be confusing or opaque. Instead, we strive to take the hassle out of managing your energy, and the first place to start is by understanding your bills.

Too busy to save money?

It is worrying that almost three quarters of small catering firms believe they pay too much for their utilities, yet, when it comes to keeping an eye on their finances, as many as 2.19 million businesses across all sectors in the UK never, or only occasionally, check their energy bills.

While 21% of catering business decision makers say they simply do not have enough time to check if their bill is correct, a further 29% trust that the total is likely to be accurate. We know, however, that by taking a few very simple steps both to understanding your statements and keeping a close eye on your utilities’ cash flow, the risk of overpayment can be significantly reduced and a lot of money can be saved in the long run.

Andrew RichardsonFree advice available

Almost half of small catering firms fear that energy prices are set to rise in the next year, so getting to grips with your bills is more important than ever. Utilitywise is committing resources to help operators get the information they require to make sense of their bills and the energy market.

We have set out all the information businesses need to better understand their utility statements in our Utilitywise guide, which has been specifically road tested by business owners.

The guide provides some essential tips to gaining control of your bills, including making sure you are up to speed with what all the terms and jargon mean, checking the actual meter readings with the bills you receive and understanding your energy consumption across the business.

In addition, the company hosts tweet chats to answer common questions and has an energy helpline to offer free, impartial and jargon-free advice to business users.

It is advisable to check bills month-bymonth for any trends or administration errors you might spot and to manage them effectively. We also advise working closely with experts to help you manage your utility bills more efficiently.

This confusion surrounding utility statements is not confined to just micro and small businesses in the catering industry. Almost one in six businesses across different sectors employing 50 to 249 staff reported that they too do not have the skills they need to make sense of their regular statements.

To help customers make sense of the energy market and avoid some of the pitfalls that can cost time and money, Utilitywise can help businesses in several ways. The company can regularly collect meter readings from businesses and pass these on to suppliers to ensure accurate, and not estimated, bills are issued. We can also provide an energy expert to check the tariff, VAT and CCL rates on businesses’ utility bills.

The free guides for both electricity and gas bills, which highlight key terms and their meanings, are available at www.utilitywise.com/skills-pay-bills

Utility Bill guides

As one of the UK’s leading business energy and water consultancies, Utilitywise advises more than 20,000 clients, helping them to get the most value from their energy through better procurement and services that allow them to be more energy efficient.

The company aims to debunk the myths that exist around utilities and supports businesses across the UK to spend less time worrying about utilities and expend more energy running their companies. For more information, visit www.utilitywise.com

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