Where to get help if your business can't afford its energy bills

02 February 2023

Back to insights and resources

Where to get help if your business can't afford its energy bills

It’s a tough time for businesses right now. If you’ve been struggling to pay your energy bills lately, help and support are available.

Below, we’ve gathered a range of resources, support services and charities you and your business can lean on should your situation worsen. We’ll show you who to contact as a first resort and the steps you should take if you find yourself unable to pay your energy bills.

First and foremost, talk to your energy supplier

If you’re in debt or struggling with high energy bills, one of the first things you should do is contact your energy supplier to discuss your options.

In some instances, if you signed onto a contract at energy prices that are much higher than today’s rates, you may qualify to re-negotiate for an extension at a lower rate. Typically referred to as Blend and Extend contracts, these extensions allow eligible customers to blend their original unit rate with a new lower rate, essentially spreading the cost over the course of the extended contract lifetime. If you’d like to discuss your eligibility for a Blend and Extend contract, contact us via our webform.

Your supplier might also suggest switching to direct debit payments if that’s not how you currently pay for your energy. Paying by direct debit is not only the easiest way to stay on top of your bills and avoid going into debt, it’s also the best way to avoid late payment fees. Setting up a direct debit can save you time and provide greater control over finances in the long run. It’s safe, secure and easier to track and manage than cheques, which can take time to clear.

If things have progressed further than this and you’re worried about falling into debt, your supplier may also offer to set up a payment plan, which can provide additional time to make payments – useful if your cashflow is limited.

Either way, it’s important to speak to your energy supplier as soon as possible if you’re worried about meeting your obligations. Otherwise, there’s a chance your energy supply could be disconnected if no plan has been put in place.

At SEFE Energy, we encourage our customers to talk to us and be as transparent as possible about their circumstances. That way we can work out the best solution for all parties. For more general support if you’re experiencing financial difficulty, you can contact our Credit Control team at creditcontrol@sefe-energy.com or 0161 837 3396.

If you don’t reach out, we can’t help. It’s always best to call us as soon as possible when you run into financial difficulty, and we’ll aim to support you as much as we possibly can.

From understanding your bills to tips on how to deal with financial difficulty, see how else we can help over at our Bills & Payments FAQ page.

Access additional government support

As well as ongoing energy relief schemes, the government can provide additional support to businesses struggling with things like energy bills.

For example, you may be able to benefit from additional government funding. Head to the GOV.UK business finance and support finder to see what support may be available to you.

Be sure to ask your local council too. They may be able to offer extra help in the form of small business support funding, such as sustainable business growth grants. Please be aware that you’ll most likely have to submit a business case to apply. 

Talk to business debt charities

There are several debt and financial charities around the UK that may be able to help businesses struggling with energy bills and other costs. Free grants search services, such as Grants Online, can show you what’s available.

Likewise, Let’s Talk has plenty of information about business funds that certain charities offer, along with how to apply to them.

The Business Debtline can also provide you with free advice concerning business debt and budgeting, either over the phone or through their live web chat service.

And, of course, Citizens Advice can provide a range of help, support and resources. Read their guidance for businesses struggling with the cost of energy.

Reducing your business energy bills

Along with the help and support provided above, there are a number of different ways you can cut down on the costs of your business energy bills, including…

Carry out an energy audit

Knowing where your energy is going – and how much money you’re putting towards it – can highlight, and rectify, any issues, and provide you with greater savings in the long term.

For more information on how to conduct an energy audit across your business, head to our detailed guide here.

Install a meter reading device

Installing a device that can monitor and transmit your consumption data automatically goes a long way towards more efficient energy usage. With an automated metering device, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how you’re using energy, avoid estimated bills, and only pay for what your business actually uses.

Through this type of technology, you can also access granular consumption data, allowing you to drill down and find where and when energy is being used. This can be an invaluable way to spot inefficiencies and introduce changes which can cut unnecessary consumption, with the potential for sizeable reductions to your final bill.

Don’t have an automated metering device? Then we would strongly advise submitting regular monthly meter readings. This will give you the best chance of ensuring accurate bills, so you’re only paying for the energy you use.

SEFE Energy customers can submit meter readings easily through the My SEFE Energy customer portal. Set an alert on your phone so you don’t forget.

Make some quick fixes

Becoming more energy efficient doesn’t require any pricey up-front costs to affect change and start seeing benefits.

For instance, you could try replacing lights with LED bulbs or installing sensors that dim or switch off lights in areas that aren’t being used. Even turning off lights and equipment at the end of each day can help to cut down on those final bills, as can checking when thermostats are set to come on and of

If heating your premises is your biggest expense, consider installing thermostatic controls which allow you to programme radiators differently depending on the space and how it’s used. The next generation of smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) take this further, utilising AI to make automated heating adjustments only when certain rooms and spaces are occupied.

Utilise load shifting

Load shifting is a technique whereby electricity load is moved from peak to off-peak hours. This effectively reduces the demand on the grid, which can help you benefit from cost savings.

We recognise that times are tough for businesses right now and hope that this guide provides help, guidance, and support on how to carry your business forward. Head to our dedicated Energy Crisis Support Hub to access more useful guides and resources.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

opens in new window