Most public sector organisations are feeling the squeeze of budget pressure, and this often means making tough choices. Yet a surprising number of organisations are failing to take relatively simple actions that could save them significant sums of money. Scott Parlett, Head of Public Sector at BiU, offers his top tips.
1. Get to grips with sub-metering
Sub-metering is a vital tool for measuring how much energy is being consumed by different parts of your organisation, whether that’s a piece of equipment, a cold room or the staff canteen. The detailed, half-hourly consumption data you get from sub-meters allows you to see where energy-saving changes could be made. For example, a school may realise that the lights are routinely being left on overnight in one particular part of the building. Or a hospital may discover that its MRI scanners are very energy-intensive and decide to restrict use to off-peak times.
2. Use energy alarms
Sub-metering can only help your organisation make savings if you act on the information they give you. BiU’s Energy Alarms service analyses your half-hourly meter data to spot anomalies and areas of energy wastage. This might be a malfunctioning piece of equipment, a maintenance issue or a staff training issue. Whatever the problem, we will spot it fast and let you know, then help to solve it if you need us to.
3. Know your termination notice date
Most energy consultancy and energy supplier contracts require a termination notice before you cancel; this can be anywhere between 28 days and thirty months. It needs to be served before the end of the contract duration, in line with your agreement.
If you don’t send a termination notice, your contract will be rolled over onto prices detailed in the renewal notice sent by the supplier; these are often higher than what you were previously paying, and you may be locked in for 12 to 36 months. Your energy consultancy contract would be rolled on the original contract term, up to three years.
So, it pays to be proactive. Send a termination notice if you don’t plan to renew or get in touch with the supplier to negotiate a better price (BiU can do this on your behalf). If your supply contracts are through a consultant, the termination notice also needs to be sent to your utility suppliers.
4. Get a revenue recovery “health check”
If your organisation has never been wrongly billed for utilities, you’re in the minority. Why don’t more public sector organisations exercise their legal right to recover this money? Because they don’t even realise they should. The average electricity bill has over 30 different sources of data on it, which means it’s easy for suppliers to make mistakes, but not so easy for your finance team to spot them. This is why it makes sense to bring in the experts.
BiU’s Revenue Recovery service looks at all the data related to your billing and metering, uncovers any historical overcharging and recovers it from the suppliers on your behalf. We have recovered £45m of wrongly paid money in the past ten years. We operate on a “finder’s fee” model, so you only pay us if we find that you are indeed due a refund. One NHS trust was refunded the equivalent of 3,500 one-night hospital admissions.
5. Respond to every change by reassessing utility spending
Many public sector organisations have made big changes in the past year and a half: adapting to become more Covid-safe, cutting back on staff, the shift to home working and so on. If your organisation has made changes, it is unlikely that the supplier contracts you had in place before are still the best fit for your current needs.
Every change should prompt an evaluation of your utility spending, but many organisations fail to do this because they are understandably focused on adapting to the changes while still delivering their core services. BiU can help you re-evaluate your utility spending, as an optional part of our Revenue Recovery service. Once we’ve carried out an audit of your billing to spot errors and deliver refunds, we’ll have a clear idea of what you’re currently paying for utilities and what your usage patterns are. This means we can help you to find better utility contracts for the future, delivering ongoing savings.
“But we don’t have time for any of this…”
Being more proactive about energy can save most organisations serious money, whether through improved data-gathering, changing energy usage patterns or getting to grips with billing. But all these changes require attention and resources, at a time when it is more important than ever to focus on the work that really matters. This is where BiU can help. Whether you need us to oversee the installation of smart meters, improve energy efficiency on-site or comb through old bills to net you a refund, we will handle it so that you don’t have to. Interested in finding out how we can save your organisation money? Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.