Female chef in restaurant

3 months ago

Managing Energy Bills After the Discount Scheme

As the Government's Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) draws to a close on 31st March 2024, businesses across the UK are bracing for the impact of rising costs. The scheme, which provided a crucial lifeline for SMEs struggling through the energy cost crisis, will leave many seeking alternative avenues for support.

The Industry Speaks Out

Anthony Ainsworth, CEO of npower, said: “We know that businesses would welcome more incentives to invest in energy efficiency or to install on-site renewable energy generation. At the end of last year, the Government outlined how it will allocate the £6 billion of funding for energy efficiency improvements that was originally announced in the 2022 Autumn Statement, which included £225 million for the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and £1.25 billion allocated to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

“£410 million was also allocated to ‘Industrial Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation’, but as yet, we have not seen the detail, and the funding itself is not due to become available until 2025. This leaves a significant gap between the end of the EBDS and more potential funding for energy efficiency when businesses really need support now.

“In this crucial election year, it is vital that the voice of business is heard. While some measures announced recently will be welcome, there is still the feeling that more could be done to support businesses, particularly when it comes to helping them proactively reduce energy consumption and make the necessary investments to support net zero.”

Man serving customer in pub

Preparing for a Post-EBDS World

The first step for business owners is to assess their current energy contracts and identify their renewal dates. For those on variable-rate contracts, comparing fixed-rate deals can provide an opportunity to lock in lower rates and relieve some of the unpredictability.

Additionally, businesses on fixed-rate tariffs nearing expiry should shop around, weighing the benefits of locking in rates against monitoring market trends for potential savings.

Accurate billing is essential to avoid overpaying for energy. Regular meter readings and communication with suppliers can help verify the accuracy while installing smart devices can provide greater insight.

Businesses facing financial challenges should engage with their energy supplier to seek out available support. Providers may offer revised payment plans to alleviate short-term financial strain. It's also beneficial for SMEs to investigate Government grants and subsidies for energy efficiency measures and green technologies, providing additional financial support to offset rising energy costs.

Implementing energy-efficient practices is critical to reducing long-term energy expenses. Simple measures such as switching to energy-efficient lighting, educating colleagues on energy-saving behaviours and optimising heating usage can bring significant savings.

As businesses navigate the winding up of the EBDS, proactive measures and strategic planning are crucial to mitigate the impact of rising energy expenditure. SMEs can effectively manage their energy expenses by exploring alternative options, implementing energy-efficient practices, and staying informed about market trends.

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Sam White