Let’s cut to the chase: if you’re a small business, and you haven’t compared energy quotes in the last 12 months, chances are that you’re paying too much for your energy.
But don’t worry, we’ll soon change that!
What small businesses should look for in their energy providers:
Being a small business ourselves, we have a pretty good handle on what small businesses like yours look for when finding an energy provider:
✓ A competitive price
It goes without saying that any business hopes to find the most competitive rate possible for their energy.
You want a supplier you can rely on to be consistent, fair and honest. You want to be able to contact them easily if need be, but ultimately you hope everything will run smoothly without your involvement.
We salute small businesses that are keen to make sustainable choices. The energy suppliers you partner with can help with this.
Small and microbusinesses are forever adapting, and they need a supplier that can adapt with them. For small but established businesses, this might mean a longer contract so they can guarantee they’ll keep their low rate for longer. For a new startup, this might mean a contract-free option so they’re not tied down.
The best small business energy suppliers
So, now you know what you want from your supplier, it’s time to find the one that's up to the task. But with so many to choose from, where do you begin?
For our comparison of the best business energy suppliers in the UK, we conducted extensive research into the best business energy suppliers, comparing 30 providers on a number of factors. We also obtained quotes for a sample small business based in North West London using 20,000 kWh electricity per year.
During this research, we found six suppliers that really stood out for providing a great service for small businesses.
The six best small business energy suppliers are:
We couldn’t possibly not feature Bulb in this list. We were blown away by its customer service, eco-friendliness and – crucially – its low and transparent rates. You know your business will be in safe hands with this London start-up – who better to look after your small business than a fellow small business? The fact that it's the top rated energy provider on Trustpilot really speaks volumes.
How much does business energy from Bulb cost?
In the name of simplicity, Bulb offers just one business energy tariff – no matter how big or small your operation is – and is totally transparent about its rates, which earns it major brownie points in our book.
First off, Bulb's standing charges for gas and electricity are both 27.4p per day.
Bulb's unit rates depend on the region in which your small business is based (this is true of any business energy supplier). Those rates are:
|Region||Electricity prices (pence per kWh)||Gas prices (pence per kWh)|
|North Wales, Mersey, and Cheshire||13.8||3.2|
|North East England||12.91||3.08|
|North West England||12.84||3.15|
|South East England||12.53||3.3|
|South West England||13.64||3.35|
- No exit fees
- No fixed contract
- 100% renewable electricity
- Best-rated on Trustpilot (9.8/10)
- One tariff for transparency
- Very competitive rates
- Cannot cater for sole traders (but hope to soon!)
2. British Gas
British Gas is the largest energy provider, supplying to over 400,000 UK businesses. This means it has a wealth of experience in dealing with businesses of all sizes. It may not have the best Trustpilot rating, but it offered us the second most competitive rate for our sample London-based small business. It was also the quickest of the Big Six to answer the phone to us.
How much does business energy from British Gas cost?
British Gas isn't quite as transparent as Bulb when it comes to its rates – instead of sharing them publicly, it asks that you get in touch for a bespoke quote based on your small business's location and expected usage tendencies.
What we do know is that British Gas offers a variety of business energy tariffs to choose from, including:
- Fixed Price Energy Plan – On this tariff, your per kWh rate will stay the same for the duration of your contract. You can choose between a one-year, two-year, or three-year contract.
- 30 Day Rolling Energy Plan – On this tariff, your per kWh rate might decrease or increase, but you'll have the flexibility that comes with not being tied into a contract.
- Half-Hourly Meters (electricity only) – On this tariff, you'll get tailored rates that depend on your energy usage and your small business' opening hours.
- Competitive rates
- Offer meter installation and smart meters
- 36 month contracts available
- Great for multi-site businesses
- Minimum 12 month contract that is difficult to leave early
- Poor Trustpilot rating (3.6/10)
- Only 40% of their electricity is generated by renewable means
3. Utility Warehouse
Utility Warehouse definitely deserves a mention for the comprehensive and unique service it offers to small businesses. It is the perfect option for those starting a new business, as it can offer mobile, broadband, landline, gas and electricity – all in one bill. If you use Utility Warehouse for four or more services, you become a ‘Gold’ member, meaning you get an extra 10% off your energy bill in your first year, and £200 towards any termination fees from previous contracts.
How much does business energy from Utility Warehouse cost?
Utility Warehouse doesn't publish its full rates publicly, but its automatic quote generator does make it really easy to get an estimate of how much gas and electricity will cost for your small business.
As an example, we requested a quote for a small business based in London, using 20,000 kWh gas and 20,000 kWh electricity per year. The quote (which was given instantly!) was as follows:
- Electricity: 18.017p per kWh, with a daily standing charge of 26.301p, for a yearly total of £3,700
- Gas: 4.808p per kWh, with a daily standing charge of 13.151p, for a yearly total of £1,010
- No contracts
- Good Trustpilot rating (8/10)
- ‘Gold customer’ rewards
- One bill for multiple services
- Each business has a dedicated account manager
- Looks to be more expensive than Bulb (at least for a London-based small business)
More than any other independent energy provider, Opus has really changed the business energy landscape. In 2015, it broke the legacy of the so-called ‘Big Six’, positioning itself as the sixth largest business energy provider. It has scooped up numerous awards, as well as several mentions on The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league. Opus recognises that energy rates for small businesses leave a lot to be desired, so has developed a concept called ‘Business Clusters’, where small businesses can club together to get cheaper rates.
How much does business energy from Opus cost?
Like British Gas, Opus doesn't share its rates publicly and asks that you get in touch for a bespoke quote that's based on your small business's location and energy usage.
Opus offers two tariffs, both supplying totally renewable energy as standard:
- Opus Advance – On this tariff, Opus says you'll pay nothing extra for 100% renewable energy
- Opus Advance Plus – On this tariff, your energy will cost slightly more because it will come only from UK-based renewable generators
- Business clusters – helping small businesses get the best rates
- 85% of phone calls answered within 30 seconds
- 90% of their electricity is generated renewably
- Poor Trustpilot score (3.5/10)
- We were unable to obtain a sample quote for comparison, although we believe their rates to be competitive
Yü was one of the best rated suppliers we found, with a Trustpilot score of 8.8/10. It offers gas and electricity for businesses, and will soon branch out into water. This will give businesses the unique opportunity to have all their utilities together. Yü is also one of the greenest suppliers around – in fact, over 99.95% of the electricity it supplies is generated renewably.
How much does business energy from Yü cost?
Like the majority of other suppliers, Yü doesn't share its energy rates publicly. Instead, you'll need to request a quote, which will be tailored to your small business based on its location and energy consumption.
But we do know that Yü offers the following tariffs:
- Fix – You'll be charged a fixed rate that encompasses your per kWh usage rates and standing charges.
- Multi-Fuel – This tariff offers savings to those who get two or more of their utilities from Yü (the company can supply gas, electricity, and water).
- 100% Green Energy – Your energy will come from a green, traceable source.
- Soon to offer businesses the chance to have all their utilities in one contract
- Good Trustpilot rating (8.8/10)
- 99.95% of their electricity is generated renewably
- Award winning customer services team who aim for a ‘three ring pick up’
- Require businesses to terminate their contracts 90-120 days before the contract end date
- Contract exit fees are £350
6. Love Energy Savings
Love Energy Savings (LES) is different to the other companies on this list in that it's not a supplier. Rather, it's a business energy broker – a company that works with a number of suppliers to find, negotiate and offer the best deals to its customers. Nonetheless, we believe it deserves to be on this list – not least for its fantastic customer service. On a mission to bring transparency, efficiency and convenience to the energy market, LES enables you to sign contracts online, when it suits you; lets you track the progress of your switch via your own dashboard; gives you a dedicated expert account manager; and more.
How much does business energy from Love Energy Savings cost?
Being a business energy broker, LES doesn't supply and charge you for the energy itself. Rather, it'll help you find the cheapest, most suitable supplier for your small business's needs.
Of course, that service doesn't come free – you'll pay for LES's help via a commission fee. LES doesn't share its fee structure publicly, so we can't advise on how much it'll cost your small business. However, we do know that LES is incredibly transparent and fair in its fees, letting you know exactly how much you'll be charged and when. LES also says its fees are “well below the market average”, and they're dictated by the company's own Fair Pricing Policy.
- Low commission rates
- Dedicated account managers
- 24/7 online switching service
- Real-time switch progress tracking
- Rated 'Excellent' on TrustPilot, with thousands of glowing reviews
- Some customers say they received a lot of cold calls
The small business energy market
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: small businesses have a bad deal when it comes to business energy. Just take a look at the difference in rates, according to a government study:
Average business gas and electricity prices in the UK at the end of 2020. Information taken from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s quarterly energy prices report
While some of this is down to cost differences, a huge part of this problem is that small businesses tend to switch less frequently and are generally just less engaged with the market.
It makes sense, when you think about it. A very large business may have an employee dedicated to monitoring energy usage and negotiating bills. Plus, they have more bargaining power – their business is worth a lot more, after all. For smaller businesses, there is rarely a person dedicated to sorting out the utility bills. People tend to accept them for what they are, and give them little thought. This is, of course, a generalisation – but the imbalance that exists is certainly no coincidence.
So, just how much is this imbalance costing small businesses? Around £180 million a year in the UK alone, according to the CMA. They cite a lack of price transparency and high exit fees as the main culprits. So how can your small business break this cycle, and get the best possible energy rate? Scroll down to our FAQs, where we answer this burning question.
Few things in this world are more certain than this: comparing energy providers will get you a better deal for your gas and electricity, no matter the size of your business. Thanks to the service we offer, it needn’t be the painstaking process it once was – just tell us a bit about your business and its energy needs by answering a few questions, and we'll match you up with small business energy suppliers that can cater to your needs, and offer you the best rates. You'll be contacted with tailored quotes that come directly from these suppliers, so you can compare the numbers and ask any questions you have.
And remember – there is no ‘one best supplier’ for everyone! Factors like location and usage have a big influence on which supplier will be able to offer you the best deal. That’s why it’s crucial to get quotes that are tailored to your business.
How much energy does a small business use?
Because the actual sizes and energy needs of small businesses can vary so widely, any average figure is an estimate that shouldn't be taken too seriously.
That said, small businesses tend to use between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh of electricity per year, and between 15,000 and 30,000 kWh of gas per year.
What is a microbusiness?
There’s a lot of confusion over exactly what a microbusiness is. For many, the term conjures up an image of a two-man startup run out of someone’s spare bedroom.
But, in the energy sense at least, microbusinesses aren’t quite so… well, micro.
In fact, according to government guidelines, a business is a microbusiness if it meets just one of the following criteria:
- It employs fewer than 10 people full time, and its annual turnover is under €2 million
- It consumes less than 100,000 kWh of electricity per year
- It consumes less than 293,000 kWh of gas per year
Are there different rules for microbusiness energy?
Ofgem has taken steps to level the energy playing field for microbusinesses. For starters, microbusinesses can give notice at any point during their contract. If they’re on a fixed tariff, the supplier also has to put their contract end date on every bill.
Is business energy cheaper than domestic energy?
That depends on how you look at it! Because a business premises will use more energy than a household, suppliers tend to charge cheaper per kHw rates for business energy.
That said, most businesses will pay a higher VAT rate than domestic customers, with businesses typically paying 20%, in comparison to the 5% usually charged for domestic energy. Businesses also pay the Climate Change Levy, which currently amounts to an extra 0.775p per kWh for electricity, and 0.465 per kWh for gas.
How do I get the best rates for my small business?
Spoiler: getting the best energy rate for your small business is easier than you think. So easy, in fact, that we’ve got it down to three words: compare, negotiate, switch. Or CNS, if you like your acronyms.
Keep track of when your contract is coming to a close, and when your notice period is (it’s typically a 30-day period, and a few months before the contract end date). Suppliers should write to small businesses to inform them, but it’s still worth keeping note.
Chances are you’ve arrived at this page either because you’re currently in this stage, or because you've just started up and are looking for your first supplier. You’ve come to the right place! It’s time to compare energy providers – that’s what we do best, so be sure to scroll up and read our reviews of the best small business energy suppliers.
You should also take advantage of our quote finding service. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your small business and its energy needs, and you'll be matched up with the best suppliers – with the cheapest rates – for you. You'll be contacted with no-obligation quotes from those suppliers that are tailored to you, so you can compare them and ask any questions you have.
Never underestimate how important your business is to suppliers.
Picture it from their point of view: they’re operating in a saturated market, selling a fairly undifferentiated product. Basic economics means they are keen, if not desperate, to get new business by any means possible – even if this means cutting their profit margin to the bare minimum.
Take your best quote to the second best supplier, and see if they can beat it.. Then go back to the first again, and so on. Very few minutes spent on the phone doing some old-fashioned haggling can be incredibly valuable.
Sometimes your current supplier will still end up offering you the best deal. That’s great, but be sure to make a new contract to this effect, rather than just automatically rolling over.
Once you have your next supplier lined up, it’s time to give notice to your current provider. Be sure to do this within the allocated notice period, or risk being automatically rolled over to an expensive new contract.
Arranging the switch itself should be no more complicated than switching domestic suppliers, and there shouldn’t be any disruption to your supply. Just remember to take a final meter reading on the handover day.
Alternatively, you can use an energy broker such as Love Energy Savings or Power Solutions (check out our Power Solutions review!) – they’ll compare providers and get you the best possible rate. And the best part? Using a broker is completely free – the suppliers themselves pay their fee. We can put you in touch with trusted energy brokers, too.