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Large Business Energy Guide

If you run a large or an industrial business, the amount of business energy you use might mean you need to have a special half hourly meter installed or may benefit from multi-site metering. It could also mean you can negotiate lower rates from your energy supplier.

Here's all you need to know about energy for large businesses.

Is large business energy different from SME business energy?

In the UK, a large business is generally defined as one that has more than 250 employees, but when it comes to energy contracts, it's the amount of energy you use that determines the size of your business.

This is because large businesses tend to use more energy than SMEs, whether that's because they have bigger business premises or operate from a number of sites, which will often be the case for businesses with more than 250 employees.

But a business with fewer than 250 employees might also have a higher energy demand because it has more machinery to run or operates industrial equipment that requires a lot of power.

This is why, for the purposes of commercial gas and electricity contracts, the size of your business is determined by the amount of energy it uses.

What are the energy usage levels for a large business?

If your business uses more than 55,000 kWh of electricity a year, or more than 200,000 kWh of gas a year, it will be considered a large business by energy suppliers. If this is the case, your business might need a special type of meter to cope with the demand and make sure you're billed correctly.

Does your business need a half-hourly meter?

If the electricity demand of your business exceeds 100 kW an hour or more, then it's legally obliged to have a half-hourly meter fitted. These HH meters automatically send readings directly to your supplier every 30 minutes, to ensure that you are billed accurately.

This saves you the hassle of manually sending meter readings to your supplier and could save you money as you’ll not be overcharged, as can be the case with estimated billing. Although you can claim back any overcharging, the figures can quickly stack up if you're using a lot of energy and the claims process is another hassle you can do without.

It's also worth knowing that you have the option of having a half hourly meter installed at your business premises if your business uses more than 70 kW of electricity in any half hour period.

Do you need multi-site metering?

If you run your business across several sites, whether you own multiple shops, run a number of offices or operate a large scale business with several meters in use across a large site, it could be worth considering a multi-site energy deal.

Multi-site meter energy deals mean that one energy company supplies power to each premises, which means a single bill and a single contract end date - essentially putting all of your energy deals into one manageable package. If you combine multiple energy deals into a single package with one supplier, you might also find you're offered an additional discount on your energy.

Do you need a multi-rate meter?

If your business uses energy outside of what might be considered 'peak hours', having a multi rate meter installed could help you save money. These meters come as either two-rate meters, which offers a lower rate for off-peak energy usage, or three-rate meters, which does the same but also offers a separate weekend rate.

Multi-rate meters are better known as Economy 7 and Economy 10. Economy 7 offers a higher rate during daytime hours and a cheaper rate for a seven-hour off-peak period, which is usually between 11pm and 8am. The Economy 10 works in much the same way as Economy 7, but offers lower rates for 10 off-peak hours.

A three-rate meter also offers a more expensive day rate, but then has cheaper rates at evenings and weekends, and its cheapest rate is offered during nighttime hours.

What affects large business energy rates?

If you run a large business, your high energy demand means you might be able to negotiate preferable rates, but it's a fine line as the strain your energy usage puts on the National Grid can also impact your prices.

In this instance, you'll need to consider the following:

  • Peak demand – This is the greatest amount of energy your business is expected to use over a set period of time. This measure is often used to help set industrial energy rates, and prices generally rise as peak demands increase.
  • Large site peak demand – This is the maximum amount of energy your business can receive each day from any one supply point used by the National Grid or your local distributor. If you go over your limit, you could be charged a penalty fee.

How to get the best large business energy deal

Comparing large business energy rates with The Energy Shop is the quickest and simplest way of getting the right deal for your business.

To start your price comparison, enter a few details at our business energy page to speak to one of our business energy experts.

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