Keep a watchful eye on your costs

There are several steps operators can take to reduce utility bills


WITH some of last month’s record-breaking temperatures even managing to reach Scotland, it’s a safe bet the trade’s refrigeration systems were working overtime in June.

And that’s just one of the spikes licensed premises have to deal with.

From heatwaves to beasts from the east, fridges to central heating, there’s no shortage of factors putting pressure on an operator’s energy and utility bills throughout the year.

But although a certain amount of expense is inevitable in any licensed outlet, utility firms said operators can help to curb their costs by actively adopting energy-efficient procedures in their outlets.

“Put steps in place to ensure that the premises is not running all heating and lighting if not required,” said Scott McMillan of Energy For Less.

“Controls can be put on heating and refrigeration.

“Staff education can also save a lot. A favourite in kitchens is to have gas rings burning even when there is nothing being cooked.

“With the licensed trade operating over so many hours, any savings that can be put in place can add up to significant savings over the course of a year.”

Staff education was also advocated by Daniel Taylor at Save On My Power.

He said: “Explain to staff the impact of appliances being left on unnecessarily.

“Simple and quick steps can be taken to explain running costs – when a member of staff understands the cost of running an appliance, it’s amazing how much of a difference this can make.”

Lighting, for example, accounts for a considerable share of an outlet’s utility costs, said Taylor.

He advised operators to consider using LED bulbs in order to cut down on lighting costs, as well as ensuring that any thermostats in the premises are regulated.

It’s not just energy costs that can be reduced by taking a proactive approach to utilities, said firms.

Ian Grundy, operations director at Pure Utilities, advised that there are also various ways operators can reduce their water bills.

He said: “Submitting regular meter readings, fitting self-closing taps and installing water-saving devices will all help to manage, monitor and minimise water utility bills.”

Keeping on top of maintenance is another important factor in keeping costs under control, according to Adam Downing at SSE Business Energy.

“Defrost fridges and freezers, check door seals, get boilers serviced and fix leaking taps,” he said.

“Check safe refrigeration temperatures, turning fridges down a degree if possible, or off in cool weather if items don’t need to be stored below room temperature.”

With the trade operating so many hours, any savings can be significant over a year.

And energy-efficiency should be kept in mind when replacing any equipment, Downing advised.

“Consider replacing outdated appliances with energy efficient models,” he said.

“When buying new equipment, check the power rating, energy consumption and expected running costs as well as the initial price.”

It’s also important to ensure that utility bills are as accurate as possible – and that means regular meter readings.

Taylor of Save On My Power advised licensees to take meter readings every month.

“This is a great way to better understand the business energy profile and to check to see the difference in usage from one month to the next,” said Taylor.

“If consumption increases unexpectedly or if consumption is higher for a period without explanation, this is a great way to review what may have caused consumption to have increased, so steps can be taken to stop this happening again.”

And it’s advisable to check utility prices at least every six months – even if the operator is in a fixed-term contract – in order to keep up to date with the best rates, said Taylor.

When the contract is up, it’s worth taking some time to compare the prices offered by different utility or energy suppliers.

Though the cheapest price may not be as straightforward as it appears, said firms.

Downing of SSE Business Energy said: “Shopping around for a good deal is worthwhile whenever a utility contract is due for renewal.

“Bear in mind that the most important factor may not be the cheapest price at that time.

“Planning ahead can provide budget certainty and peace of mind. Operators could consider a fixed price contract that removes the risk of mid-contract price increases and allows them to focus solely on their core business.

“Customer service standards are also worth taking into account.”