Reviewing, and more importantly, understanding your energy bills is a significant challenge for businesses with limited resources. However, with electricity bills in particular continuing to increase and with the introduction of more and more so called “Pass Through” charges, bills have become increasingly complex, including Use of System charges, Renewable Levies, Climate Change Levy, line loss factors, Metering Charges and Authorised Capacity. To add further complexity, some of these charges may depend on the time of day or even the time of year that the energy was used.
The UK and more specifically the energy sector is facing a period of extreme and unprecedented change and uncertainty, with the power infrastructure undergoing wholesale changes resulting in these extra charges on your bills.
Businesses simply cannot afford to pay additional costs through billing errors.
Business energy bills are complex, factoring in a growing range of non-commodity charges such as green taxes as well as a range of different contract types, charging methods and standing charges. Different suppliers present bills in different formats, so changing your supplier may save money, but be difficult to compare with bills from previous years.
There are a multitude of reasons that can result in errors in how your bills are calculated, with the unfortunate reality being that these errors rarely work out in favour of the bill payer. Frequent examples include errors applying third party charges, errors in the details of your supply contract, incorrectly applied consumption data and meter reads or account balances not tallying with actual figures or previous bills.
As important as effectively reviewing your energy bills is the difficultly for many businesses to find the time or knowledge within their workforce to detect any errors. A methodical, robust process supported with highly developed error checking and reporting software, carried out with experienced eyes is needed to ensure billing across the entire duration of your contract period is carried out, systematically controlled and done properly to make sure billing errors are correctly identified and subsequently followed up and rectified.
Even with the right processes and expertise in place, every organisation is different and a tailored solution is required to ensure that a wide number of data points including smart meters, AMR and half hourly billing are correctly factored into audits and variance reporting with status updates on outstanding queries. It is not uncommon for many organisations to assume that the installation of smart or AMR meters will prevent many billing errors and subsequently failing to realise that they are still at risk of overcharging. A common cause for billing errors is issues with replacement meters.
While the massive growth in the amount of data available regarding your overall energy usage ultimately gives you more control, insights and understanding, it also means that effectively monitoring your usage and billing and identifying errors becomes an increasingly laborious process. The fact that similar errors can be found across other utility bills including water and telecoms further complicates this process. The good news, however, is that is also increases the potential savings or refunds that can be secured.
Another important factor when considering engaging an external bill validation service is that is provides an ideal jumping off point for a wider energy audit, potentially identifying a range of consumption and emission reduction opportunities. Such audits may be used to review the benefits of any energy reduction measures already employed, to see whether they achieved the benefits that were included in the original business case or guaranteed by the installer.
While ensuring your current billing is in order should be the first step, there is every chance that if your bills have not been effectively audited and monitored that historic errors are still waiting to be unearthed. In many cases a historical audit of energy and other utility bills can present a significant cost recovery opportunity for businesses. By reviewing historical billing data, errors can be identified, compiled and recovered on your behalf, potentially resulting in the refund of significant amounts of cash that had previously been paid incorrectly.
Each year, Inenco validates over one million invoices on behalf of our clients and recovers more than £11 million on their behalf. Across the UK, the amount of business capital that could be waiting to be unlocked by bill validation could be as much as half a billion pounds. To find out what savings and refunds your organisation might be eligible for, contact us today on 08451 46 36 26 or send us an email.