New research claims that businesses and organisations in the education sector are missing out on the benefits of switching energy suppliers. The research, carried out by UK consultancy Utilitywise, shows that over half the respondents (57 percent) have never switched suppliers or tariffs, with almost one in five (17 percent) not knowing that switching is an option for them. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of SMEs in the education sector believe they pay too much for their utilities and an even higher number (71 percent) understand there are savings to be made.
Following recent consumer switching campaigns, the study explores what education businesses and organisations know about energy switching and found that despite feeling they pay too much, there is a lack of understanding about the options or perceived barriers that stop them taking action.
Although 14 percent of organisations in the education sector switched in the last year, many others avoided moving to new suppliers and tariffs due to the belief it is not worth the hassle (29 percent) and the return would not outweigh the time it takes to organise (23 percent).
Reasons cited by those running organisations in the education sector who are reluctant to explore switching include:
• 49 percent fear costs and fees attached to transferring to a new supplier
• an increase in paperwork and forms to fill in makes 47 percent of businesses nervous
• over a quarter (26 percent) even believe that switching will cause a disruption to their energy supply and that they may be left for a period of time with no gas or electricity.
Andrew Richardson, deputy CEO of Utilitywise, said: “There has been much in the news about domestic customers switching to get better energy deals, which is positive in terms of building a competitive marketplace and educating consumers about energy. Organisations in the education sector can do the same and there are real savings to be made. However, it is daunting and more complicated for commercial enterprises to navigate switching as they may have a number of sites, meters and different contracts – this is where working with Utilitywise can help.
“Our teams are experts and can advise on the best approach for energy management – our flexible purchasing team has saved our customers over £1.2 million in the last 12 months, with an annual average of £55,000, while our fixed contract team is saving hundreds for customers on a regular basis. We can take the hassle out of switching and help organisations in the education sector manage their energy better.”
Over half of organisations (54 percent) in the sector reported that a feeling of taking the power back into their hands would encourage them to switch energy suppliers on top of a financial motivation. A saving of £100-£200 per year would be enough to encourage 21 percent of organisations to switch and over half (66 percent) already believe they would save up to £300 if they were to switch in 2015.
David Riches, executive director for commercial, trade and marketing from the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Many chamber members in the education sector are small organisations and have to juggle long-term planning at the same time as running the day-to-day operations. Understanding their energy overheads is an important element in managing their organisation costs effectively. Our research, conducted amongst thousands of chamber business members across the UK, tells us that many businesses need help when they look to cut their energy costs by switching suppliers. Our affinity partnership with Utilitywise was established with this in mind.”
For those education organisations that have saved or foresee saving money through switching, 34 percent would instead invest in better equipment for the organisation, 21 percent would inject the cash into additional benefits for the staff and 13 percent would focus on office upgrades.