Cheap Energy Club for Retail Shops - Business Rates Worth It?

three shops butcher grocer and clothes shop

Many retailers like you have set up shop in town, only to close down due to high running costs. Understanding business energy bills is key to getting the best energy deal for retail shops like yours. Find out how to get cheaper energy supplied to your shop on the high street.


Why Energy Costs Will Make Or Break Your Shop

corner shop

Despite the high turnover of new shops opening and shutting on the high street, you will want to be the exception. Your objective is to grow your retail business over many years, building a large, faithful clientele and thriving profits. But you also know that business electricity prices can account for a considerable chunk of your shop’s monthly outgoings.

Whether you’ll be running an off-licence, food & wine store, take-away or clothing boutique, you’ll need to keep your energy costs in check. Failing to do so can see your dreams of retail-success crushed. The good news is that there a number of secret tools that there for small shop owners to hack the energy market. You’ll use them to ask the right questions and pay only the cheapest rates.


Understanding Retail Shop Energy Bills

Understanding business energy bills doesn’t have to be a mine-field. You’ve already had the jargon of commercial bills explained to you. Terms that you now understand include the Standing Charge, Unit Cost and Climate Change Levy (CCL).

Based on the size of your team and projected turnover, you’ll also know how much your average business energy bill should be. Now your objective is to twofold: bring down your Unit Cost by lowering your consumption and avoid the CCL. We’ll look at each of these below, so you’ll want to read on.


Unit Cost: How Do I Reduce This?

Before you implement the 7 Golden Energy Saving Tips below to reduce your shop’s energy consumption, chop your bills at the root. This means doing an energy comparison. You simply compare your current supplier to others out there in the energy market. Don’t just stick to one of the Big Six companies.

What are you not getting that you could get elsewhere to pay less for your shop’s utilities? Before you waste your time and effort scouring the internet to compare energy tariffs, get a price comparison site to do this for you, for free. There’s no obligation to take any action, so it’s certainly a good starting point.

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1. Get Paid For Your Shop’s Energy

happy many holding a big coin

You may think it’s crazy to “get paid” rather than “paying out” for your shop’s energy use. That’s the benefit of Plunge Pricing that you’ll want to look into. Few business energy suppliers offer this with their online account. How does it work? It’s simple. At times of the day when there’s more electricity generated than consumed, wholesale energy prices will fall.

When prices fall below zero, business energy suppliers are actually “paid” to take energy off the grid. You’ll want your new supplier to send you SMS alerts to your phone when this happens. That way, you will ensure your shop uses lots of energy at that particular time, bringing money your way!

2. Track Shop Usage With Smart Technology

Your shop’s supplier should have a downloadable app for you to check your shop’s usage of gas and electricity. Although this is one of the functions of your Smart Meter, it’s easier and quicker to see it on your phone from your online account, particularly when you’re out of the shop.

Review your meter reading while having coffee or while you’re on the road. If your new supplier is, tech-savvy, it should also provide you with a virtual assistant. An example of such an interactive interface is Amazon Alexa.

  • Questions You’ll Ask Alexa...
  • “How much energy did my shop consume yesterday, over the past month, or the past six months?”
  • “When does my shop use the most energy, in the morning or in the afternoon?”
  • “What are the wholesale energy prices now?”

3. Command Alexa to Reduce Consumption

woman talking to Alexa virtual assistant
Source: Mashable.com

You already know that switching off appliances, particularly vampire devices, will reduce your bills. Equipment merely left on standby mode can use as much as 70% of the power as they would use while being operated! But you’re busy tending to customers, restocking supplies, plus a million other things.

What if you could tell your virtual assistant to switch them off for you, just with your voice? This is a feature you’ll want to save money and inject it into your retail business.

Expect more from your new supplier. It should give you the option to make all of your shop’s devices “smart” and link them to Alexa.

STEP 1: Make Your Shop’s Devices Smart

1. Locally 2. On Your Device 3. Echo-Paired
Connect your shop’s devices to
Echo Plus & Echo Show using a
smart hub.
On your shop’s device, use a
hardware module designed by
Amazon. You can use the Alexa
Connect Kit or ACK.
Link your shop’s devices to an
Echo device. Use the Alexa
Gadgets Toolkit and Bluetooth to
build accessories. The Echo
transmits event information to
your shop’s device.

STEP 2: Set up IFTT Rules & Triggers

Now that all of your shop’s devices are “smart” and linked to Alexa, you can now activate or deactivate any appliance upon certain events being triggered. This is known as “If This, Then That” (IFTT). It’s where you set up “Rules” (If This happens…) and “Triggers” (Then That should happen…). Clear as mud? Let’s look at some examples of IFTT in practice:

IFTT for Off-Licence, Stationery or Convenience Store
RULE TRIGGER
IF… the wholesale price of electricity falls below £45 / MHh THEN...turn down the drinks refrigerator by 2 °C
IF… the wholesale price of electricity exceeds £55 / MHh THEN...turn down the boiler’s thermostat
IF… the time is after 06:00 am THEN...set the hot water to heat
IFTT for Clothes Shop, Flower Shop or DIY Store
RULE TRIGGER
IF… the indoor temperatures exceeds 20 °C THEN...turn down the heating by 2 °C
IF… the time is after 20:00 THEN...turn the store lights on
IF… the wholesale price of electricity exceeds £45 / MHh THEN...turn the lights down in the customer waiting room or changing areas
IFTT for Delicatessen, Fishmonger, Baker or Grocer
RULE TRIGGER
IF… the wholesale price of electricity exceeds £45 / MHh THEN...turn down the heating and lights.
IF… fresh produce has been on display for more than 5 hours THEN...turn up the cooling-refrigeration system.
IF… the time is after 19.00 THEN...turn off the oven.

If you’re a hairdresser or restaurant owner, you’ll have discovered how to harness the power of IFTT for your business. IFTT is vital in every line of business. So if you’re not currently getting this, simply switch energy supplier for your shop.

Climate Change Levy: How do I Avoid It?

Green background with text 100% renewable energy from Octopus Energy
Source: Octopus Energy

As you already know what the Climate Change Levy is, you’ll how to reduce it, or avoid paying it altogether. To recap… if your shop’s energy consumption is below the deminis limit, you’ll be excluded from the obligation to pay any CCL. If you’re getting your energy from renewable sources, you’ll be exempt from any CCL. This is ideal if your shop uses a lot of gas and electricity, thereby surpassing the de minimis limit by far.

Many energy providers don’t offer 100% renewable green energy for shops. Look for an energy company that does. Not will you save money to invest back into your business, but your customers will love you for it! Research shows that we’re all becoming conscious of softening our carbon footprint. Soften yours and shout about it on your retail shop’s Facebook page.

Your new supplier can give you digital stickers to add to your posts to strengthen your shop’s “green fingers”. Don’t be surprised if the increased number of likes generates more customers at your shop!


7 Golden Tips: Cut your Shop’s Utility Costs

You may well have competition on your high street, selling the same products and services to the same target audience. But there’s no need to worry. You’ll have these 7 Golden Tips up your sleeve to cut your energy bills by as much as 20%. While they’re paying over the odds, you’ll be investing in your core business areas. You’ll quickly get the financial stability you’ve always wanted to spend less time at the shop and more time with your friends and loved ones.

1. Shop Heating

A poor performing boiler can be wasting valuable energy. Your customers won’t want to continue browsing the shelves if it’s cold in your shop. If they need water and it’s freezing, you can kiss goodbye your loyal clientele. Boilers need to be serviced regularly to prevent a boiler malfunction, or worse, a breakdown.

Smart meters and smart heating controls are great resources to track and adjust boiler performance. However boiler repair cover is vital to get the best energy prices at the best energy rates. Find out what to expect from a full boiler service and why having boiler cover will save you money in the long run.

Hey Alexa… shut down the heating or air conditioning system an hour before closing time.

Keep the temperature at a constant level, ideally between 19° and 21°C. If you’re selling fresh food produce, it may need to be lower than this. Use IFTT (mentioned above) and come up with your own rules and triggers to adjust the heating and room temperature according to your line of products and opening hours. Staff and customers are unlikely to notice the difference and you’ll save yourself lots of cash.

  • Reducing the temperature by just 1°C can…
  • Cut your shop’s fuel consumption by 8%.
  • Save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of A4 paper.

2.Shop Cooling and Refrigeration

Although you may need to keep food and drinks cold if you sell them, don’t cool them any more than you have to. Depending on what you’re selling, find out the requirements of the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and just stick to those minimum temperatures. Any cooler and you’ll be wasting energy unnecessarily.

  • BONUS TIPS:
  • Find out the requirements under the Food Safety Act 1990.
    Download the “Guide for Food Business” herepdf icon
  • Set up an IFTT rule to keep the refrigeration temperature at the required temperature. If your fridge only stores fizzy drinks, set the rule to turn them off after hours.

Ensure all your refrigerators and freezers are maintained correctly. Also get your staff to routinely check that the door seals are in good condition. Any fans or vents should be kept clean and free of any build-up of debris.

3. Shop Lighting

You’ll need good lighting to provide a comfortable atmosphere for your customers. This is particularly important if you’re selling clothes that customers may want to try on, or bulky items to be looked at, such as DIY equipment. But that doesn’t mean you should pay through the roof for it.

green energy bulb

Get rid of halogen bulbs. Not only do they consume a lot of electricity, but they also have a short life span. Instead, replace them with eco-friendly LEDs, be it light bulbs or T8 fluorescent tubes for the ceiling. Other energy-efficient alternatives to LEDS are halogen incandescents and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). They’ll last for from 10,000 to 25,000 hours while giving your shop a trendier image. Also, since these lights generate less heat, they’ll put less strain on your air conditioning system. You’ve just killed three birds with one stone!

If you have changing rooms and toilets, or other rooms that are used sporadically, use motion-activated lighting sensors. They’ll automatically turn off if no one is in the room. Your shop will reduce electricity usage by 25% and your bills will be lower. Don’t have motion-activated lighting sensors? Get your staff’s voices recognised on Alexa and ask them to command Alexa to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. In fact, do the same for any other business appliance that’s not being used.

4. Shop Energy Usage

Ask Alexa what your retail shop had consumed over the past day, week or month. Then ask it what the energy wholesale prices are. When wholesale prices dip, switch your shop's usage to those times while prices are cheapest.

Set up an IFTT rule for this. Track the usage of your drinks refrigerator, radiators, air conditioning, counter display system, lights...anything you want. Find out what appliance is consuming the most energy.

Then ask yourself what you can do to reduce consumption. Upgrade it to a more energy efficient appliance with an A+++ rating? Or just use it for less time during the day? If the latter, could you use it only when the wholesale prices for energy are at their lowest? All these questions will be answered by Alexa, so make the most of her!

5. Shop Water

drop of water

If the water supply is not just for staff, but also used by your customers, you’ll need to be frugal with it. Water costs can add to your bills drastically. Instead of having two separate hot and cold screw tabs, install a single “push type” water tap. Not only will this reduce the amount of water consumption and your water bill, but it can also prevent flooding. By not having the turn any taps “On” or “Off”, the water supply turns off after a set number of seconds from being pressed.

6. Shop Appliances and Equipment

If you’re using second hand equipment that’s already old, your shop’s devices and appliances can be running inefficiently. More power to run them means more cost for your shop in the long run. They’ll be using more energy than they should and they may even break down shortly. Whether you need ovens, toasters, cabinet lights or other equipment for your business, review their efficiency.

Look at your smart meter, your Alexa device or mobile phone app for your shop’s usage. Do this for each device in your shop. If the usage looks abnormally high for comparable new devices, consider replacing them.

How Can I Tell Energy Efficient Appliances Apart? Read energy efficiency labels when buying new equipment and aim to buy ones with a rating of A+++, A++ or A+. This is particularly important for appliances such as fridges, freezers, display cabinets or any other energy-consuming device in your shop.

7. Shop Building Upgrade

Draughts are one of the biggest culprits of cold retail shops, particularly in the winter. It’s the number one source of discomfort among customers that can make them walk out of your shop without making a purchase.

Since you want to avoid turning the heat up, instead, retain the heat you have. In fact, your shop can retain up to 25% more heat simply by improving insulation.

    Carry out the following checks to keep your customers nice and cosy:
  1. Is the ceiling hatch correctly fitted? Use weather stripping to seal it.
  2. Draughts coming up through the floorboards? Install bulk underfloor insulation that’s flush with the floorboards.
  3. Cold coming from the skirting boards and cornices? Use latex or flexible silicon-based sealants. Alternatively, remove them and foam the gap.
  4. Heat lost from gaps under the doors? For internal doors, use brush strip types. For external doors use spring loaded automatic seals.
  5. Air leakage from recessed downlights? Replace old downlights with modern IC, IC-F or IC-4 rated LED downlights.


Summing Up…

Don’t be another statistic. Your retail shop will be the most popular and profitable business on the highstreet. To generate a high net turnover, you’ll have to reduce your running expenses, especially your energy costs. Picking the right energy supplier for your shop will give you the tools to get there.

Track your usage and use energy when prices are at their lowest. Put in practice the 7 Golden Rules to lower your bills even further. You’ll have lots of cash to inject into your shop’s business. Perfect to grow for many years to come.