According to data from energy and water consultancy Utilitywise,?one in five businessmen and women said they did not have the skills needed to make sense of their regular commercial energy bill statements, while 60 per cent suggested they couldnt identify that E or A readings mean estimated or actual. A quarter did not understand the term unit rate.
Utilitywise said the confusion was not just confined to small businesses of up to 49 employees, but even those with up to 250 staff.
Those with the biggest issues included business people in Sheffield and Liverpool who said they didnt understand the information provided on utility bills and businesses in the manufacturing sector where a third confessed their ignorance .
The data revealed that 2.19m businesses don’t check their energy bills. This is despite the fact that three-quarters of SMEs believe they pay too much for their utilities. Almost half believe energy prices will go up in the next year.
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While 23 per cent of business decision makers cited lack of time for the reason they dont double check their bill is correct, a further 23 per cent trusted that the total is likely to be accurate.
Andrew Richardson, deputy chief executive of Utilitywise, said: Businesses need help to navigate the energy market. That starts with understanding your statements. The terminology can be confusing, but it’s important to get a handle on it because it impacts a business bottom line: if you dont know that you’re paying an estimated bill you can be in for a nasty surprise. We believe passionately in making the energy sector easier to do business with. It shouldnt be complicated, confusing or opaque. We are determined to help all businesses get the skills they need to pay the bills.
To make bills less baffling Utilitywise has produced a guide to help businesses. Its top tips include ensuring they are “up to speed” with what the terms and jargon on each utility bill means, checking the actual meter readings with the bills they receive and understanding their energy consumption across their business and this as a percentage overhead.
Businesses should also check bills month by month for trends and administration errors .