Market News

 February 07, 2012
British Gas SME energy service to help tackle "invisible" consumption

 British Gas will today launch a free service to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cut the "invisible" energy use that is adding almost 50 per cent to many businesses' bills.

Data from 6,940 energy meters taken between February 2010 and November 2011 showed 46 per cent of energy use is between 6pm and 8am, when most small businesses are shut.

The analysis revealed firms were running up largely unnecessary bills by lighting empty office car parks and shop displays in closed shopping centres, and leaving vending machines and IT equipment on overnight and at weekends.

"We've got example after example - some of these users will have been 24 hour operations, but the majority won't have been," Dr Angie Needle, head of energy consultancy at British Gas Business, told BusinessGreen. "We know businesses are struggling to control costs and... they need help understanding their bills, otherwise [energy use] becomes invisible after a time."

British Gas' "industry first" Business Energy Insight is designed to give SME customers more control over their energy bills by providing smart meters, which enable more accurate billing, and provide an online dashboard of energy use readings that is updated every half an hour.

The company said that around 100 account executives trained to help small firms save energy will also support the service and can recommend a wide variety of energy saving measures, ranging from energy efficient lighting to solar panels and insulation.

"It's not our purpose to sell products and services," Needle said. "The purpose is to build relationships with customers, which pays for itself."

The service was trialled with 100 customers and now has over 1,000 companies signed up ahead of today's launch.

The company said the service could eventually cover gas consumption as well as electricity use, and will allow anything from offices to chip shops to benchmark performance against the best in class.

Needle said around 200,000 British Gas business customers have had smart-meters installed to date and the company intends to double this by the end of the year.

Research sponsored by the company last year revealed the Green Deal for business could be worth £800m by 2020 and Needle is now keen to expand the new service so that it dovetails with the government financing scheme.

"We have around 650,000 business customers and one million supply points, so the opportunity is huge," she added. "We're [also] heavily involved in making the Green Deal work for businesses and smart meter data will be a big part of that."