Tips for bringing out eco-friendly behaviour in your staff – and help reduce your energy bills!

In the modern world, there is an increasingly important focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness – especially in business. As such, many companies are now investing time, effort, and finances into improving their energy management strategies, and reducing their overall carbon footprints.

There can be a number of obstacles on this journey – and one of the most common can be a business’s employees. It can sometimes be quite difficult to get employees to invest time and effort in sustainability changes – and keep them interested in the future. After all, it’s well known how hard it is to break a habit! Luckily, there are a number of techniques that you can try to pique employee’s interest and encourage them to invest.

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Why should your staff care?

If your staff are disinterested in and disengaged with environmental responsibilities, it could be having a number of negative effects on your business. As well as failing to contribute to sustainability, it could actually be costing your business money through excess resource consumption, such as gas and electricity. Making the effort to educate and encourage green behaviours in your staff can bring a number of additional benefits, for example boosting your business’s reputation and credibility – both internally and in the wider marketplace.

The reality is that many individuals don’t actually need to be made aware of environmental issues, so much as simply remembering to remain aware of them when at work. There’s a good chance that many of your staff are actively conscious of their consumption and environmental footprints within their individual households – it could just be a case of encouraging this behaviour in the workplace, too.

How can you educate and encourage staff?

Once you realise the importance of getting your staff on board with green notions and environmental sustainability, the next step is figuring out how you should go about actually doing so.

The first thing you’ll need to do is hold a company-wide meeting, informing all your staff of the business’s new commitment, and encourage them to make the effort to engage with sustainability practices.

Even after this initial meeting, though, there are a number of ways in which you can make sure you don’t lose momentum, your staff don’t lose interest, and you keep the green spirit permanently alive in your business. For instance:

A business-wide focus

It’s important that you don’t pigeon-hole your eco efforts to just one department or area of your business. You’re likely to see more a positive effect if sustainability is in every aspect of daily operations, with every single member of staff getting involved.

Let them have a stake

A great way to accommodate investment is to give your staff a direct claim on the work you’re doing or the changes that you make. This could be by including their own energy management suggestions in your plan, or by assigning them specific responsibilities. Your staff are much more likely to respond positively, and invest in your sustainability plan, if they feel they have some sort of ownership of it.

Clear goals

Having clearly defined targets to work towards can help you to measure success and monitor your progress. This can also promote positivity as you will be able to see when you achieve goals, tangibly measure the progress you make, and ensure you don’t run out of momentum.

Educate and train

It can often take only minimal time and effort to give your employees training about environmental issues and energy management, and the rewards from doing so can be surprisingly beneficial. Your staff are less likely to put effort into something if they feel out of their depth. Increasing their knowledge will not only increase their comfort in carryout out eco-friendly actions, but it will help them to realise the importance of doing so, too.

Incentivise and reward

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than good, old fashioned motivation. If the fact that they would be doing their part for sustainability doesn’t seem enough, give your staff more reason to get involved. There are a number of employee benefits that you could offer, from perks in the workplace to material prizes.

Celebrate to motivate

Make sure that you celebrate success and reward positive behaviour with your staff, otherwise you may run the risk of them losing interest. Make sure that any green targets you set are achievable in order to accommodate success and avoid disheartenment.

Encourage teamwork

You could try generating a competitive air in your company by pitting different teams or departments against each other to see who can ‘go greenest’. Not only can a contest help to drive results for your green objectives, but working in teams also helps to improve staff relations and incites commitment.

Essentially, the crux of business sustainability success is in momentum – once you’ve built it, try not to lose it! Many businesses may find initial success after investing in environmental efficiency, and educating staff to do the same. But, after this initial success, good habits slip back into bad ones, and slowly the entire business manages to un-do all the green good achieved. The key to ensuring this doesn’t happen is in keeping up momentum, and maintaining a focus on green goals over time.

Following the above tips can help you, your staff, and your business as a whole keep its commitments to sustainability, and to ensure that your good efforts remain effective, and don’t go to waste.

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  • We’ll get a deal that’s right for you to ensure you’re not paying more than necessary for your energy.
  • Our UK-based customer service team takes care of switching, saving you tons of time and heaps of hassle.
  • We only work with suppliers who we trust to provide competitive deals that we can pass on to customers.
  • Make It Cheaper have switched more than 250,000 energy contracts for businesses since 2007.

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Business energy bills explained

Your business energy bills are a great reference point if you’re looking to switch suppliers or implement energy efficiency measures in an effort to cut your costs.

Your bill will display exactly how much you’re being charged, how much energy you use and if you’re currently in window to switch to a better deal. Business energy bills are also called an invoice, and can differ in format depending on your supplier.

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Below are the common features of a business energy bill and what they mean:

Bill type:
Your bill typically includes a header specifying whether your bill is for gas or electricity. It may also specify what type of contract you are on – for example if you’re on a half hourly electricity meter.

Billing period:
This specifies the period for which you’re being billed – usually thirty calendar days. Your bill may include a separate ‘invoice date’ which is useful for tax and energy VAT purposes.

Customer reference or account number:
This is a unique number that helps your supplier quickly identify who you are. You will need to provide this number whenever you communicate with your supplier. These numbers are supplier-specific, so if you switch suppliers, your number will change too.

If you have more than one site registered under your business energy contract, they will each have their own account number.

Site address:
This is the location at which the energy is being supplied – usually your business address.

MPAN or MPRN:
The MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) is sometimes called your supply number and is a unique number that identifies your electricity supply. The MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number) is a unique number relating to your gas supply. These numbers will come in useful if you are switching suppliers, as they are used to identify your property.

Energy usage:
These are your meter readings for the billing period. This will either be actual or estimated depending on whether you have submitted a meter reading to your supplier. This usually shows the volume of electricity or gas (kWh) you have been charged for, and the unit rate (p/kWh) your supplier has used to calculate the cost of your bill.

Actual or estimated:
Your bill will state whether the figures displayed are ‘actual’ or ‘estimated’. Actual readings make your bill more accurate as it is directly based on your usage, so it is beneficial for you to submit regular meter readings. If you have a Smart Meter, your supplier will automatically be sent meter readings, so this will also produce actual figures on your bill. If you find your estimated reading has overcharged or undercharged you, it is important to let your supplier know so they can amend this discrepancy in your next bill.

Consumption graph or Energy tracker:
This is a comparison of how your current energy use has changed from the previous year. These figures help your supplier give you an estimate of how much you may spend over the coming year. They also help you keep track of your energy usage.

Billing summary:
Your billing summary is the amount you are due to pay for the billing period specified. This could be an amount you owe to the supplier, or a credit balance your supplier owes you. A credit balance is usually created if you have been overcharged by your supplier through an estimated bill. If your account is in credit, this is usually indicated with the letters CR.

Relevant contract dates:
You’ll be provided with your contract end date and your notice period end date. The contract end date is when your current deal will expire. Suppliers typically move customers onto their standard – and more expensive – rates automatically after this date. You will remain on this more expensive contract indefinitely unless you switch to a better deal.

The notice period end date is the point by which you have to notify your supplier that you will be switching to a different deal at the end of your current contract. It is important to make note of this date as you will not be able to switch if you act too late.

Method of payment:
You will have agreed on a method of payment with your supplier. This will be specified on your bill. Most business energy bills are paid directly at the bank, by cheque or through direct debit. The latter option can sometimes come with a discount. If you are entitled to a refund on an overpayment, your direct debit is a convenient way of paying you back. If you use any of the other methods of payment, you will be refunded through a cheque.

Tips from your supplier:
Your supplier often includes tips on how you can save on your energy bill, such as energy efficiency measures for your business. If you would like a more in-depth look at ways that your small business can reduce the amount of energy that it’s using, click here.

Breakdown of charges:
Your supplier is likely to include a breakdown of the charges that make up your energy bill. This includes maintenance, meter reading costs and other costs associated with providing your energy service. Further charges that will be specified include:

  • Standing charge: Measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), the standing charge is a set fee you pay every day, regardless of the amount of energy you use. This is the cost you pay your supplier for transporting the energy to your business, and includes meter read charges.
  • Unit rates: As specified above, unit rates are a set cost you pay for each unit of energy you use. Click here to find out business energy prices per kWh.
  • VAT: This is a government-imposed tax charged on all goods and services. VAT is either paid at 20% of your total energy bill or at 5%, depending on your energy usage. If you use less than 33 units or 145kWh per day, you will qualify for the lower amount. If your business qualifies for both the 20% and the 5% charge, the different charges are specified in your bill. Your supplier’s VAT registration number is typically included in your bill.
  • Climate Change Levy (CCL): This is a government-imposed tax created to encourage businesses to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency. Your bill will include how much you need to pay and how this charge is calculated. You are typically only required to pay a CCL if you pay VAT at 20%.

Contact details:
Your energy bill will include contact details for your supplier and may include contact details for your local distributor – this can come in handy in emergency situations such as a power cut or gas leak.

Key:
Your bill may include a key to help you read your energy bill.

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Get an energy deal that’s right for your business. Call 0800 088 6958

  • We’ll get a deal that’s right for you to ensure you’re not paying more than necessary for your energy.
  • Our UK-based customer service team takes care of switching, saving you tons of time and heaps of hassle.
  • We only work with suppliers who we trust to provide competitive deals that we can pass on to customers.
  • Make It Cheaper have switched more than 250,000 energy contracts for businesses since 2007.

Get a quote

 

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Why buy business broadband for your small business?

We explain the reasons why your business stands to benefit from buying business broadband.

If you run a small business, you may be wondering why you would choose a business broadband package over a domestic broadband package. In this article, we run through the advantages of business broadband and how it can dramatically improve your business’ efficiency.

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Reliability and customer support

It is vital for business broadband users to consider the level of customer support that comes with their package. You will receive priority customer support over domestic users if you take a business broadband package, which is essential if your business relies on its broadband connection. Many business broadband suppliers have strict service level agreements to stick to, so you can guarantee a quick response when you need help.

Contention Ratio

The contention ratio of your broadband is less complicated than it sounds – it simply refers to the number of other internet users that share a server with you. For example, if you were sharing one server between 40 users, the content ratio would be 40:1.

Business broadband packages will generally have much lower contention ratios than domestic broadband customers. The obvious benefit is the faster connection speed you will receive with a business connection.

Speed

Business broadband connections can offer much faster speeds for its users. Although domestic packages are available with high speeds, they still suffer from peaks in traffic and high contention ratios. Customers with business broadband packages are given priority over domestic traffic, even during peak usage times. Therefore sticking with a domestic broadband package could have a significant impact on your productivity if you rely on a fast connection during certain times of the day.

Download limits

Some domestic broadband providers still impose limits on their customers’ downloads. This simply isn’t practical for businesses that have multiple users or have vital business operations relying on the connection. Business broadband packages generally offer their customers far more generous, unlimited download limits.

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Static IP addresses

We’re going to get a bit technical now. An IP address acts a bit like a ‘home address’ for your computer or internet enabled device, allowing you to connect to the internet. Domestic broadband users will find that their IP address changes regularly (also known as a dynamic IP), whereas a static IP address always stays the same. Many business broadband packages offer the option of a static IP address either for free, or for a small extra free.

But why would you want to have a static IP address for your business?

Run your own website. If you’d like to host your own website, you can turn your PC into a server and host it yourself. This saves you from hosting fees and gives you more control over technical issues.
You can access your computer remotely from anywhere in the world using widely available software if your business has a static IP.
Receive emails to a personalised domain. With a static IP address, you’re able to set up your own email address using your own, personalised domain. This means you no longer have to rely on web clients such as Hotmail or Yahoo and all you need to begin is some mail server software.
However, it’s important to note that if you do decide to use a static IP address for your business, your server machine must be left on at all times. Any time that it isn’t connected to the internet, sites running on your server will go down.

I’m still not sure about business broadband…

While domestic broadband is absolutely fine for start-ups and very small businesses, it simply isn’t up to scratch for larger business operations. To summarise, the advantages of business broadband include:

  • Greater reliability and dedicated customer support
  • Lower Contention Ratio
  • Faster internet speeds, especially during essential trading peak hours
  • Unlimited download limits
  • A dedicated static IP address.

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If you’re still unsure how business broadband could benefit you, or if you simply want to know the best deal available, a dedicated Make It Cheaper broadband expert can talk you through the options for your business. Call us on 0800 088 6958.

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How do I find the right Commercial buildings insurance ?

No matter what industry your business is in, there’s a good chance that you operate from a physical building for your day-to-day work. Even if you do not directly trade from a specific premises, you may rely on buildings – such as a stock warehouse – in order to function.

Because the bricks-and-mortar of a business building can be so integral to its ability to make money, it’s important to protect it against the risks that it may be exposed to. That’s where business buildings insurance can come in handy.

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What is business buildings insurance?

Where you own the property, a commercial buildings insurance policy is typically a core part of a business insurance package, and can be beneficial for many companies to have in place. Business buildings insurance can provide protection against risks such as damage and theft, by helping to fund repairs or replacements.

What does commercial buildings insurance cover?

The assets that are included under buildings insurance cover are usually anything considered to be the main structure of the building. Sometimes, permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen cabinets can be included under protection.

Generally, ‘peripheral aspects’ of your business – such as gates and fences – are not classed as part of the main structure of the building, and are therefore excluded from cover. It is worth checking with your insurance provider what is and isn’t included in your buildings insurance before taking it out.

What does business buildings insurance protect against?

A business buildings insurance policy will usually – although not always – protect against the following risks as standard:

  • Theft
  • Flood and fire damage
  • Weather damage
  • Malicious damage, such as vandalism
  • Subsidence.

Commercial buildings insurance extensions

A business buildings insurance policy can also be extended to protect against additional risks, depending on your requirements. For instance, your buildings insurance could be extended to include:

  • Damage to infrastructure such as water pipes or telephone cables
  • Damage caused by freezing, for example to plumbing
  • Damage to fixed glass, such as windows and doors on your front of premises.

The above is not an exhaustive list, and it’s possible that different insurers may offer entirely different extension options to you.

Typical policy exclusions

It’s likely that there will also be a number of situations outlined in your policy in which your business buildings insurance may not provide protection. These situations will probably vary from policy to policy, but let’s take a look at some common examples.

  • Fair wear and tear: This is not strictly considered damage in the eyes of insurers. This can sometimes include damage that could have been prevented, or that was caused over a period of time. For instance, smoke damage caused by regular use of a fireplace would not be covered under buildings insurance, but smoke damage from an unexpected kitchen fire probably would be.
  • Vacant property: If your property is vacant for a certain period of time – which can vary between insurers – then your business buildings insurance may be invalidated. In order to ensure you are still protected in the situation where you standard policy doesn’t cover you, you would need to take out unoccupied property insurance.
  • Poor workmanship: If damage is caused by a tradesman or your own DIY efforts, then generally, business buildings insurance will not cover you.
  • Animals: Damage caused by animals is rarely included. This can include pets, if you have them on your premises, and also damage caused by insects or vermin.

How much does buildings insurance cost?

No two businesses are exactly the same – no matter how similar they may seem – and as such, their buildings insurance requirements will differ, too. Because of the scope for variation, it’s not really possible to provide an accurate quote for how much your cover will cost without a proper analysis of your business premises.

Here are just a few of the factors that could affect the price of buildings insurance for your business:

  • The industry you operate in
  • The extent of cover you require
  • The size and age of your business building
  • The location of your premises
  • Your past claims history.

Commercial building insurance quotes

To get a no obligation buildings insurance quote based on your business’s needs, give one of Make It Cheaper Financial Services’ experts a call on 0800 088 6958. As well as buildings insurance, we can help you to decide which other forms of cover may be beneficial to your business, and can build a bespoke insurance package around your business’s requirements. Call today.

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  • We’ve helped thousands of Britain’s business owners protect what’s important to them.
  • Our UK-based agents will set up your policy to make life as easy for you as possible.
  • We’ll always make sure you get the cover that’s right for you and your business – no unnecessary extras.
  • You’ll get a personal account broker who’ll be on hand to help if you ever need to make a claim.

How do I choose the best business landline deal ?

There is a range of factors to consider when choosing your business landline. We explain the features you may want to look out for.

So you’ve decided to switch or set up a new business landline, but you’re not entirely sure where to start. Our quick guide runs through the main points to consider when choosing your new business landline provider or contract.

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Cheaper landline prices

Understandably, most business owners consider the cost of their business landline service first.

It’s handy to remember that business landlines are generally better value than domestic landlines. So if you think you’re saving your business money by sticking with your domestic landline, you could be in for a surprise!

Business landline packages can be made up of numerous different features – which means that the price of your package will depend largely on the features you need for your business. In this next section, we’ll run through the types of features that may be included with your business landline package.

Line rental

Almost all business landline packages will come with a line rental charge built in. Line rental does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s the charge you have to pay the telephone company to use their phone cables. Business landline rates will vary depending on the level of service you require.

Type of landline

Most business suppliers offer a range of different types of landline. These include:

Single analogue lines mainly used for making calls, connecting to fax machines and receiving broadband.
Multi line analogue will give you additional lines on which to receive a call. If a call comes through and the first line is engaged, the call will simply reroute to the second line.
ISDN2e is a single, high quality digital line that uses different channels for voice, video, faxing or data. You can add additional circuits to your installation, allowing you to have a number of connections working at the same time. ISDN2e further allows you to allocate separate phone numbers to your users.
ISDN30 is usually used by larger companies, as they support between 8 and 30 channels with all the features of ISDN2e.

Multiple business lines

If you run a business that requires more than one landline, you can rent as many lines as you need from your business provider. Generally, the more lines you rent, the cheaper the cost is per line.

Call charges

Different business landline packages will come with different call charges. Call charges are generally split into different categories, including:

  • Local calls -includes all calls to numbers with the same dialling code as your phone number, and all numbers with dialling codes for areas that touch the borders of your area (complicated, we know!)
  • National calls – includes all calls to numbers that aren’t considered ‘local’ as above
  • International calls – any calls made outside the UK
  • Mobile calls – call charges for dialling a mobile number within the UK
    0870, 0871, 0872 & 0873 calls – these are all chargeable numbers, most often used by businesses
    0800, 0808 and 05 numbers – these are all Freephone and won’t cost you any money to call.
  • Peak calls – calls made within the times when call volumes are highest (which vary from provider to provider, but generally covers the period between 6pm to 7am). Peak calls are often charged at a higher rate.
  • Off-peak calls – any calls made outside of peak hours. Off peak calls are usually charged at a lower rate.

When you’re choosing your landline call plan, it pays to think about the numbers you’re most likely to call, especially if you make a high volume of outbound calls. Then, you can tailor your package to give you discounts on the call types you make most often.

Call plans

Call plans are packages put together by landline providers. For example, a call plan could include: line rental, 500 free minutes to mobile phone numbers and free off-peak calls to local numbers.

That is why it’s important to consider the types of calls you’re making on a regular basis.

For example, if you make a great deal of calls to businesses overseas, then an ‘international saver’ package could suit you perfectly. This type of package could provide significant discounts for your international call charges, whereas an ‘unlimited free local call’ package could work brilliantly if most of your clientele live nearby.

Call charge capping

Many business landline providers offer the option to cap the cost of certain call types within their call plans. For example, your call plan may cap mobile call charges at 10p for up to one hour. This can be a fantastic money saver if you make a great deal of one particular type of calls.

Telemarketing numbers

If you’re setting up a landline for your business, you may want to consider setting up a specific, easy-to-remember phone number for your customers. Business landline providers can give you a range of options depending on how you would like to charge your customers, giving your business a professional number to print on its literature.

Help and support

For many businesses, the cheapest price will always be the most important factor in choosing a business landline provider. But for others, the level of support available is critical.

In general, business landline packages provide a higher level of customer support than domestic landlines. Business providers understand that breakdowns can damage revenue for businesses and seek to fix issues as quickly as possible but, as with all service providers, there are varying levels of support available.

How to find a cheaper business landline provider

At Make It Cheaper, it’s our job to search the business landline market so that you don’t have to. We’ll compare a range of competitive business landline deals from a range of suppliers to help you find the right deal for your business.

Find out more about how to set up or switch your business landline, or simply call us today on 0800 088 6958, to speak to one of our business telecoms experts.

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