Water – The Choice is Yours
In 2017 the water industry is being deregulated in England and Wales. So, as with electricity and gas supply, businesses will be able to choose their own water provider.
Large business customers (consuming >50,000m3 of water a year) already have that supply choice and indeed businesses in Scotland have had retail competition since 2008.
By having a choice of provider, it is expected that business customers will see savings, discounts and more attractive payment terms, plus providers are likely to help you improve water efficiency.
All businesses and other organisations (not households) will be able to shop around for their water and sewerage suppliers from April 2017. The water coming out of your pipes doesn’t change, it’s really just who you pay!
Water users with high spends or lots of sites with low spend are likely to see the biggest potential gains.
What you should do now
- You may be able to switch supplier now – review your current water usage figures or if you have any sites in Scotland.
- Speak with your procurement team about the 2017 changes – they will want to negotiate prices with water suppliers in the same way as gas and electric contracts.
- Speak to your existing water and sewerage provider to understand what they will be offering to your business.
- Fit a water meter – having accurate consumption data is important to help identify efficiencies and track your spend.
- Make sure you are being charged correctly under your existing pricing regime (many bills are estimated or irregular) so this should help with cost savings now and you will be better placed to gain if you do switch.
Happy with your Supplier?
Research by the Consumer Council for Water found that many businesses are fairly happy with their water supplier now – it’s a simple service and that bills are reasonable (not as high as other utility bills). For many the current lack of competition means businesses don’t need to be involved in the decision making process so their water relationship does not really dominate their thoughts.
What businesses do want, however, is improvements in billing – the main concerns mentioned are a lack of bill consolidation for multi sites or multiple meters, the need for accurate bills rather than (too many) estimates, a lack of smart meters and the low frequency of meter reading.
Respondents seemed to prefer online billing solutions and variations in the billing cycles that align with their own business needs. They wanted greater bill clarity (especially relating to surface water drainage and associated calculations) and fairer pricing structures.
Water is an often overlooked resource to a business. Its supply is simple and you don’t think much about it, except if there’s a water leak or you get an astoundingly large bill.
With the ever increasing impacts of climate change and extreme weather, water is likely to become more important to businesses – in terms of cost savings, environmental impact and reputation.
To help you identify improvements, I can you conduct a water audit of your business. This will help you understand your current consumption and projections for the future, find efficiencies and cost savings, and help engage with your staff and customers. Win, win, win!