British Gas Business

British Gas Business

July 12, 2012 06:30 ET

Baffling Energy Jargon Bewilders Over Half of Small Businesses

British Gas teams up with Plain English Campaign to help businesses understand their energy

- Research shows 57% of SMEs believe their energy suppliers use too much complex jargon

- A third (34%) of SMEs call for simple explanations in everyday language published as an easily accessible guide

- British Gas creates an industry-first online energy guide for businesses in conjunction with Plain English Campaign

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - July 12, 2012) - Over half of businesses (57%) believe their energy suppliers use too much complex jargon that could be hindering them in getting the best deal for their energy, according to new research commissioned by British Gas.

The research1 reveals that a quarter of businesses (24%) say they spend too long dealing with their energy bills, contracts and pricing renewals because of the jargon that is used by suppliers. An additional 25 percent say they would need to spend more time trying to understand their energy use and contracts to feel confident they are getting the best deal.

In a tough economic climate when business owners are short on time, many businesses risk missing out on the best price for their energy by not having a full grasp of the common terms used in contracts and billing. For instance, over three quarters (77%) of businesses say they can't fully explain the term 'deemed pricing', even though being on a deemed price contract means paying a higher price for energy compared to normal contract rates2. A third (34%) of businesses are now calling for the energy industry to publish guides on managing energy in simple and easy to understand language.

In response to this frustration, British Gas has worked with Plain English Campaign to launch Energy Made Simple - an industry-first online guide to help businesses better understand information about the energy they use to run their business. The online guide has been developed with the help of a panel of British Gas business customers and the account managers who speak to businesses about their energy use every day.

Energy Made Simple explains complex energy topics in easy-to-understand language, covering all areas of energy ranging from drilling to billing. It also offers advice and tips on how business can implement energy-saving measures to cut their bills. According to the research, only a fifth (20%) of businesses are currently taking energy-saving measures, despite savings of up to 20 percent3 on offer for those that do.

Angela Needle, Head of Energy Consultancy at British Gas Business, said: "We know that our small business customers are short on time and want to feel confident they're getting the best deal. But we recognise that as an industry we've not always helped them do this. By launching Energy Made Simple, we want to give any business, regardless of its supplier, the tools to quickly understand their energy contracts and how to manage their use effectively. Through working with our customers to develop services like this, we're committed to helping businesses take control of their energy costs so they can spend more time on the important job of running their business, safe in the knowledge that they're in control of their energy usage."

Marie Clair from Plain English Campaign said: "In this tough economic climate, we know that business owners are desperate to fully understand the contracts they have with their suppliers and to feel assured they can get the best deal. By working with British Gas on Energy Made Simple, we've been able to help them explain some of the terms and processes that cause businesses the greatest confusion, in simple and easy-to-explain language. We hope that more suppliers now follow British Gas's lead in being this clear and transparent. This will help small businesses focus on running their businesses rather than wrestling with confusing jargon."

Dolly Sharma, restaurateur at Apni Rasoi said: "I don't have much time to spend looking at my energy bills. There are so many other things that I have to prioritise to keep the restaurant going so I just pay them without giving them much thought. And the idea of trying to implement any energy saving measures seems such a huge task that I feel I don't have the time to start thinking about it. However, having been shown the Energy Made Simple online guide, I do think it would help me as the straightforward language and clear graphics explain a number of complicated issues really clearly - I'm looking forward to using it." The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in London is an example of a business that has spent time developing a better understanding of its business electricity and business gas and is now seeing the benefits through the savings it is making to its bill. Dawn Ryan from the ALCS said: "We have found that by taking the time to fully understand our energy consumption, making sure we keep a regular eye on our bills and implementing a number of simple, energy saving measures, we have saved up to 50% on our energy costs since 2009. But not every business owner has the time to do this. I'm certain that many small businesses, just like ours, would benefit from online guides such as Energy Made Simple which give clear, straightforward advice from their supplier on how to manage their energy."

For more information on Energy Made Simple, visit:

Notes to Editors

About British Gas

- British Gas has over 1 million business supply point contracts and 650,000 customers, making it the largest energy supplier to small businesses in the UK. For more information go to:

- British Gas launched a panel of over 1,000 of its business customers in October 2011 to help it tackle common frustrations businesses have with energy providers and create services that can help businesses reduce energy costs in a way that works for them.

- Today's launch follows previous announcements in response to feedback from the customer panel. In November, British Gas announced its commitment to not back bill its business customers further than one year by 2014. The business is also committed to installing at least 200,000 smart meters for its business customers.

1 About the Research

  • The research of 1,000 small and medium sized businesses was commissioned by British Gas and carried out by One Poll in June 2012
  • Common energy jargon that businesses find confusing:
    • 77 percent of business cannot fully explain deemed pricing

    • 63 percent of businesses cannot fully explain out of contract

    • 60 percent of businesses cannot fully explain unit price

    • 69 percent of businesses cannot fully explain kilowatt hour

    • 64 percent of businesses cannot fully explain standing charge

    • 58 percent of businesses cannot fully explain estimated bill

2 When you move to a new premises, the existing energy supplier to the property will temporarily put a company on a 'deemed' rate by default. Deemed rates are generally higher than the rate you'd get in a contract you've actually chosen. This is because deemed rates are short-term rates and the energy is bought short term.

3 20% reduction figure based on the polling of 1,000 businesses in December 2011 carried out by Research Now and commissioned by British Gas.

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