The cost of energy for people and businesses across the UK has been rising steadily for some time. A variety of socio-economic and political events have sent prices soaring in recent months and the internet is awash with advice on how people and businesses can reduce energy consumption by implementing a variety of practical changes to lower consumption.
However, what most businesses on half hourly meters don’t realise is that by analysing their half hourly data, they can make practical business changes that can significantly reduce energy spend, without having to decrease consumption.
What is a half hourly meter and how do you know if you have one?
A half hourly meter (also known as HH or 00) is a business electricity meter that sends consumption data to the energy supplier every half hour. HH meters are subject to two different rates, a day rate and a night rate. It’s mandatory in the UK for businesses with a maximum (peak load) demand greater than 100 kW in any given half hour period.
To tell if your business has a HH meter, you can simply ask your business energy supplier. You can also check your electricity bills – HH metered accounts have an MPAN number starting with 00.
What are the benefits of a HH meter?
The benefits of having a HH meter are vast and include:
Not having to take meter readings yourself to get accurate bills
The ability to better monitor and manage your energy consumption
You will only have to pay what you owe
It’s easier to predict your business energy usage
The secret to lowering energy spend
Possibly the most important benefit to having a HH meter is the ability to manage your energy consumption. At United Gas & Power we are able to provide HH data to our customers, and this allows our customers to be able to analyse exactly what energy is being used at specific times of the day. This information can be highly valuable for developing energy-saving measures without reducing your consumption.
For example, one of our most recent customers is a large independent hotel that has a HH meter installed. When we first spoke to them about their new contract, we advised looking at their HH data to configure the most appropriate consumption profile for their contract.
After analysing HH data, we found that the hotel had a huge spike in energy usage between the hours of 2 and 5pm. On closer examination we discovered the reason for this spike. Guests at the hotel typically checked out at 11am. By 2pm, rooms had been cleaned and at that time, the laundry room got to work on the bedding and towels. This surge in energy usage was happening in peak times, and at a day rate that was more expensive than the meters contracted night rate. By moving its laundry time to 5am the following morning, we calculated that there would be a 10% reduction in overall energy spend and was able to agree a contract with a consumption profile that reflected this change in business process.
Whilst this is a very straight forward example, it is possible for businesses with a myriad of high energy activities to use their HH data to re-configure how and when they conduct their activities in order to save money, without reducing consumption. It is however important to discuss these proposed changes with your supplier before making any changes so that together, you can develop an effective energy management strategy.
If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about how we can help you effectively manage your energy costs, or to discuss your metering options with us, call us on 0800 669 6698.
April marks the start of Stress Awareness Month 2022 and it’s a great opportunity to take a moment to think about our wellbeing and managing stress, both at home and in the workplace.
At UGP we want to help our people and other stakeholders manage their worries, stresses and pressures so we’ve developed a few top tips that we think will help:
Share how you’re feeling. It can make a huge difference sharing how you’re feeling with friends and colleagues. By sharing you could get some great advice or find you can support other colleagues who need help.
Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness can come in all forms, whether that be taking a walk, breathing techniques, or being aware of your surroundings. Taking time to be mindful is one of the first steps to reducing your own stress.
Keep Moving. Yoga, walking, or heading to the gym are all great ways to keep active. Keeping active provides great stress-busting benefits.
Get a good night’s sleep. Waking up completely recharged and ready to go will set your day up with a positive mindset.
Keep a Balanced Diet – Food is our energy source and provides us with the nutrients we need to grow, ensuring we don’t skip a meal, stay hydrated and eat our 5-a-day will decrease our stress levels.
Take a break. Trying to do or take on too much can increase the negative impacts stress has on our mind and bodies. Taking a break and a step back will help us to manage our time better, with less stressors.
Having recently started a new role in HR at United Gas & Power, I understand that I play a vital role in terms of our employees’ health and wellbeing. We acknowledge different workplace stressors; we recognise the signs and we understand that as a business, we need to put measures in place for our people so that as an organisation, we do all we can to reduce the damaging effects of stress. At UGP these measures come in the form of;
Gym Memberships – We know how a little bit of movement can be a great way of releasing some built-up stress that people have. Exercise is excellent for our well-being and thanks to UGP our people can visit the gym on a lunchtime, with extended lunch hours to enable them to get there and back still have time for a sandwich!
Supportive Line Managers – It’s important to let people know when you’re feeling stressed, so that we can ensure as an organisation we’re supporting you. Having approachable line managers who care is the only way people would feel comfortable doing so. That’s why our Line Managers meet frequently to communicate new ideas, approaches, and different ways of thinking. Sharing ideas and different techniques to management empowers our line managers to be reassuring, encouraging, and understanding with any issue their teams may have.
Flexible Working Policy – We understand how some stressors can be due to balancing work and home commitments, so having a Flexible Working Policy in place, which is accessible to every employee and gives everyone an opportunity to request a working change, allows our people to comfortably manage both.
Company Socials – At UGP we notice how taking a break from work and catching up with colleagues is the often the best way to relax. That’s why team socials, company summer BBQs and afternoons away from the office are a way for UGP not only to say thank you to employees but also ensure they’re taking the breaks they need.
Internal Communications – Staying up to date with projects, industry updates and organisational changes is imperative (especially when working from home) when it comes to reducing stress in the workplace. Knowing what’s happening and being informed allows our people not to worry and to be excited about the future. Therefore, all our communications come directly from the Senior Management Team, nothing is diluted in passing on the message and we all hear the same updates at the same time on a regular basis.
Cashback Health Scheme – Acknowledging that most of UGP’s employees’ stressors won’t come from work but seeing that we can still help is one of the most important things an employer can recognise. Our partnership with Simply Health allows our people access to 24-hour advice and counselling helplines, where they can receive guidance from professionals on financial, legal, medical and relationship matters along with 6 free counselling sessions, access to GPs and much more. The cashback scheme ensures this comes at no cost to UGP employees when accessing and claiming these things for themselves.
This month’s Stress Awareness theme is Community where Stress.org.uk have chosen the theme because “the pandemic has had a hugely detrimental effect on the nation’s mental health and sense of community.” After the turbulent couple of years our industry has felt, community support and spirit has never been so important, so we wanted to offer some messages to our energy community.
To all the suppliers, shippers, and brokers who have felt the same pressures over the past couple of years, who are uncertain on what advice to offer or who are in need of a little break we’re here to support you, and together we can make sure we help one another through another year.
To our customers, we know how challenging a time it may be right now. The news you see about the energy industry can be unsettling and all the changes to prices can be confusing but we’re here to help and we want to offer guidance and advice. Just give our 5-star customer service team and Account Managers a call, who want to put your needs first and give you the knowledge you need during this time. See how we can support you and what we have to offer!
To our employees, for UGP the rest of Stress Awareness Month is for reflecting, improving on what we already have and continuing to put you at the front of everything we do. Stepping into the HR role marks the perfect opportunity for me to review how we currently approach stress in the workplace, and I look forward to researching what we can offer and listening to what you want.
In listening to our community, adapting to people’s needs, and continuing to change for the better we can ensure we have a positive impact on our people, customers, and community.
Saving money on energy bills is on the mind of many a small business in the current climate. By following the tips below, businesses can make meaningful savings to their energy consumption and costs.
Upgrade equipment…Office equipment and machinery can use up a lot of energy, especially if the equipment is old and lacks the energy saving benefits that newer models provide. It’s worth conducting a review of your equipment – from computers to machinery and even kitchen appliances, upgrading to energy efficient models can make a substantial difference to your business energy bills.
Upgrade your boiler…Did you know that energy efficient boilers use up to 30% less energy than their less efficient counterparts! If your boiler is 10 years old or more, it’s worth considering an upgrade.
Insulate your premises and reduce heat loss…Fuel costs can skyrocket if you’re losing heat via your building. It might cost you in the short term, but in the long run installing effective insulation will pay for itself. Look at cavity wall and loft insulation, insulation around pipes and hot water tanks. Also consider installing double glazed windows if you don’t have them already, and draught proofing windows and doors throughout the premises.
Take a look at your lighting…Switching to energy saving lightbulbs will save up to 80% less energy than standard bulbs. It’s also worth considering motion sensor technology, that eliminates lighting when it isn’t needed as this will dramatically reduce your business energy costs.
Review your air conditioning and heating settings…It’s easy to forget to adjust your heating and cooling settings as you move through the seasons. In the UK especially, with unpredictable weather, it’s worth regularly monitoring when your heating/air conditioning comes on and off and at what levels. Often businesses will keep their heating systems on overnight, heating or cooling a space unnecessarily. It’s also worth looking at natural ways to preserve heat by closing windows and doors. Automatic closing doors are excellent for this. Similarly, when it’s warmer, take advantage of the milder weather and open windows and doors to help ventilation and cooling.
Improve business policies and processes…Do you have a process for shutting down equipment at the end of the night? A single computer monitor can save £35 a year on electricity bills, simply by being turned off at night and often, shared resources such as printers or hot water heaters are overlooked and left on standby during non-working time. By improving the processes around how these energy intensive facilities are used and giving ownership to individuals to follow best practice, businesses can make meaningful savings on their energy bills. Even small changes such as only heating as much water as is needed at any one time can make an impact.
Get your employees on board…It’s important to educate and involve your employees in all your energy saving initiatives. Having policies that employees can follow, perhaps with posters around the workspace reminding people of your initiatives, will ensure that your efforts are followed through. You may even want to consider making it fun by putting incentives in place for reaching sustainability targets.
Check you’re on a competitive energy deal…While it’s been a challenging time for the energy sector lately, tariffs still change regularly, so it’s worth checking that you are getting the best deal for you at regular intervals.
If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about saving money on your energy bills, please contact us on 0800 6696697.
Ensuring that your customers have a great experience is important to any business, as it’s the key to attracting and retaining customers. In the energy sector, it’s never been more critical. Here at UGP our Customer Service Team put customers at the heart of what we do to ensure that we not only leave our customers satisfied, we also ensure that we make the right decisions, for the long term.
As Customer Service Manager, the success of my team is built according to these top 5 customer services values:
Put the customer at the heart of every conversation: Our customers deserve the human touch. Be open, be honest and really understand what the customer wants before then discussing the most appropriate action. Be sincere and be human! By truly listening to the query, no matter how big or small, solutions can be always found. It’s important to remember that customers are contacting us to help us, or for us to help them. Customer Service is an attitude not just a department!
Be aware of the news! There’s a lot happening worldwide that is affecting everyone. It is important that sensitivity is shown. That the challenges people are facing are acknowledged and that solutions are found to suit all. Being aware of news both worldwide and locally leaves customers feeling understood. It’s likely that what has affected us as individuals has also affected our customers. By empathising and understanding, the customer will feel valued.
Ownership: There is nothing worse than being passed from pillar to post and having to repeat queries over and over to different call handlers. By taking ownership, customer trust is increased significantly. In particular, if our customer has a complaint, it’s important to own it, deal with the issue from start to finish and reassure the customer that things are getting sorted. Give points of contact, how to get in touch and offer a truly exceptional ownership experience for all customers.
Honesty: If a task is going to take a number of days, we let our customers know. Don’t over promise just to give the customer what they want to hear as it will cause you problems later down the line. Keeping promises is crucial. One of my big frustrations as a customer is if something is wrong, being told that the issue will be sorted quicker than it will be in reality. This only increases my frustration.
Embrace complaints: Things do wrong from time to time. It is important to acknowledge this, hold your hands up to any mistakes and tell the truth. Blaming a system or trying to get around issues by not acknowledging what the issue is will only lead to customers becoming more frustrated. If something has gone wrong, admit the error, speak to customers explaining why, and what is going to happen to fix it. Our customers will not always like the reason why things have gone wrong, but make every effort to fix the issue in a timely manner and the trust will grow.
When talking to customers in a B2B environment, it’s our customers business, income and livelihoods they are talking to us about. Challenges will be faced and our aim is to make contacting UGP the easiest and most pleasurable experience that it can be. Feedback on how we are doing is welcomed, whether good or bad. The personal touch makes a huge difference in customer service ratings, and I pride myself and my team on this. Our team has superb success rates; over 98% of queries resolved satisfactorily and on time. Our complaint resolution times are industry leading and I take great pride in how low our repeat complaints are.
Working for a company that embraces my own personal values makes my job enjoyable and rewarding on a daily basis.
2021 saw the unfortunate continuation of the covid pandemic which meant supplies were still interrupted and workforces struggled to operate as normal. However, many have also started to ‘learn to live’ with covid with a mass vaccination roll-out, so there is hope that 2022 may offer a gentle return to stability and the chance to focus on the future.
So what does 2022 have in store for a more environmentally sustainable future?
Plant Based Products Continue to Grow
Veganuary often brings about a surge in publicity for plant-based alternatives, new recipes and shifts in attitude towards food. However, 2022 is particularly significant and many fast-food franchises have made huge efforts to go plant based. Burger King has introduced the UK’s first plant-based alternative to chicken nuggets, McDonald’s has gone green with a plant-based burger and KFC have also launched a vegan version of their classic chicken burger. Energy Live News reported that by switching 10% of the world’s meat to plant-based food the ‘could be a saving of 176m tonnes of CO2 by 2030’ because Global consumption of meat reached 385 million tonnes in 2018, which translates to at least 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Energy Crisis
The story that dominated the latter half of 2021 and continues to remain current is the energy crisis and drastic calls for the Government to start stepping in and providing solutions for people and businesses. Many in the industry are urging the Government to start making changes. Octopus boss Greg Jackson has urged the government to ‘spread the cost of the energy crisis’, and that urgent action is required to halt “very high increases” on energy bills. Speaking on the Times Radio, Jackson said: “Unless action is taken, we will start to see those very, very high increases come through to the consumer market.” As global gas prices continue to rise leaving markets in trading turmoil, nearly one-third of Britons are afraid they will not be able to pay their bills this year. That’s according to a YouGov survey published in The Times which suggests 33% of people expected their fuel bills to become “unaffordable”.
A Drive in EV Cars
A new report from Zap-Map has unveiled less than 1% of electric vehicle (EV) drivers would go back to petrol or diesel cars. Driver satisfaction for EVs and plug-in hybrids was much higher than petrol or diesel cars, with the charged-up vehicles scoring 91/100, compared with just 74/100 for combustion vehicles. Transport Minister Trudy Harrison commented on the study: “These survey results show that drivers are becoming increasingly confident in making the switch to EVs and I hope this data encourages others to consider going electric as we work towards the UK’s ambitious net zero targets. “We’ve committed £2.5 billion to accelerate the rollout of zero-emission vehicles and charging infrastructure across the country, ensuring the transition is as simple as possible for motorists, as we take steps towards a greener transport future.” We are hoping this means that EV vehicles will become more available and accessible to the wider public so that more can make the switch.
A Rise in Solar Installations
Developing distributed solar capacity will be an objective for policy makers in many important markets around the world. China will continue its ongoing effort to increase dramatically the utilisation of distributed solar in its rural areas. Germany’s new coalition government has a target of installing 200 gigawatts of solar by 2030, which will rely heavily on residential solar resources. And distributed solar will remain the dominant model in Japan, Australia, Belgium, and Poland. In the coming year, policymakers and energy service providers around the world will also increasingly leverage the growing distributed solar fleet to support grid stability and provide flexibility. This means the US, for example, will continue to see distributed solar combined with storage and / or electric vehicle charging infrastructure. More Australian households will add storage to their rooftop solar systems to hedge against the rising cost of interconnection and lower solar electricity export tariffs and more countries will use distributed solar and energy storage to bring electricity services to disadvantaged communities.
Recycle or Re-use
Some of the bigger names in retail are making waves by implementing recycle schemes that reward. Boots are trialling a recycle scheme were you bring back empty bottles of products and you’re rewarded with points. Similarly H+M are allowing customers to drop off unwanted clothes or textiles from any brand and any condition in return for a store voucher. Don’t want to recycle? eBay have launched a campaign encouraging everyone to sell on any unwanted items instead of throwing them away or dumping them.
Renewable Energy Expands
Renewable energy was one of the big winners from COP26, including a ‘Breakthrough Agenda’ commitment to make clean power “the most affordable and reliable option” for all countries and to phase out coal. The IEA forecasts that the global renewable energy generation capacity will increase by 60% over the next 5 years. The UK is leading the way with its commitment to generate 100% of its power from renewable sources by 2035, including plans to ban coal by 2024. In its latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) round, the government has increased funding to £285 million.
Make The Switch Today!
Why not make 2022 the year you make your business more renewable? Speak to one of our team today on 0800 669 6697 or complete our Get A Quote form, it only takes a minute!