We assist small business with a range of issues, including billing and contract issues and disputes about their energy retail classification.
When determining whether we can help a business, we consider:
- number of staff employed and the annual turnover
- whether they consume more or less than 100 MWh electricity or 1000Gj gas per year
- the capacity of the business to seek redress without our assistance.
Read more about some of the issues we can help small businesses with:
- choosing a retailer and energy offer
- tenant issues
- reducing consumption
- supply interruptions
- assistance with bills.
You can buy electricity and gas from the standard retailer in your area, or you can take up a market contract with any other licensed retailer. With a market contract, a retailer may offer you a special deal or discount if you agree to switch to them.
Shop around to find an offer that suits your business operations and budget. The energy market is competitive and retailers want your business. Use this to your advantage and negotiate to get the best offer you can. Consider contract length, payment options and billing frequency as well as price in assessing which offer best suits your business.
Be aware that some discounted offers for fixed terms include an early termination fee if the account is closed before the end of the contract term. These fees can vary greatly between contracts and during the course of the contract, so read the terms and conditions carefully. Business customers may also be required to pay a security deposit at the start of the contract or any time during it.
Your lease should clearly specify who is responsible for payment of the charges that make up energy and water accounts. Energy and water suppliers can only discuss an account with the account holder or an authorised representative. If you have a problem and are not authorised to discuss the account, you will need to contact the account holder to raise the matter.
If you have any dispute regarding responsibility for charges or are unable to get the assistance you need from the account holder in order to have your energy or water problem resolved, contact the NSW Small Business Commissioner on phone 1300 795 534 or email. If your premises are separately metered for water and/or energy, make a note of the meter reading when moving in or out.
- Refrigeration: reduce the work fridges must do to keep cool by turning off internal lights and anti-sweat heaters, maintaining seals and keeping fridges level. Keep fridges at least 60% full and freezers at least 75% full. Use containers of water if stocks are low.
- Lighting: replace incandescent globes with energy efficient globes and only switch on lighting when and where it is needed.
- Business equipment: switch off appliances when not in use and make use of timer settings to automate the process. Invest in high-star rated equipment and educate employees about energy efficient practices.
- Motors: energy efficient motors can deliver savings that offset their higher purchase price by reducing operating costs compared to standard motors. Servicing motors regularly, ensuring adequate ventilation and using variable speed drives are all ways your business can reduce energy consumption.
- Hot water: by switching to gas or off-peak rates, your business could make significant savings, depending on your business activities.
- Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning: this can account for up to half your energy bill. Increasing the temperature set point by just one degree in cooler months can save up to 10% in energy costs. It is also important your business maintains an effective thermostat for managing consumption by these systems.
- Water: providers such as Sydney Water and Hunter Water offer industry specific saving advice online. Refer to their website or contact your provider for water saving tips.
Distributors must give four business days’ advance notice of a scheduled supply interruption. It is your responsibility to arrange a generator if your business requires power during the supply interruption. You may also want to investigate back-up energy systems or insurance options to cover for damage or losses caused by unscheduled supply interruptions.
It is strongly recommended that businesses install surge protection devices on sensitive and/or business critical appliances to prevent damage in the case of supply events such as surges and unplanned outages.
If you are having difficulties meeting payments, call your supplier as soon as you can to discuss the situation. While retailers’ hardship programs do not extend to business customers, the earlier you make contact with the supplier, the more likely you are to obtain assistance such as a payment extension or a payment plan. If you dispute a bill, pay an amount towards the account you consider reasonable while the matter is being resolved. This will help prevent large arrears accruing and shows good faith.
NSW Energy Saver Program
Your business may be eligible for support through the NSW Energy Saver Program. The Program provides energy efficiency support for NSW businesses through technical support for energy efficiency projects, energy efficiency training workshops, technology guides and toolkits, sector specific resources and new ways to finance sustainable building upgrades.
The Energy Saver program helps you learn about energy efficient appliances and their running costs before you buy them.
If your business runs fridges, air-con, dishwashers and other appliances, use the Smarter Choice running cost calculator to compare running costs before you buy.
Your Energy Savings
There are small steps you can start taking now to save energy in your workplace. Visit the Department of Environment and Energy to see how you can improve energy efficiency and reduce waste within your workplace, and learn about ways you can save by performing an energy assessment of your business.