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Npower SME Q1 2013 Billing Booklet



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This billing booklet looks at changes to flexible working, and how you can adopt to ensure your business benefits from new employment trends. In this issue you can also learn about networking, and how the npower Energy Services connections team works with new wind farms.

Npower SME Q1 2013 Billing Booklet

  1. 1. Winter/Spring 2013 here’s how we can help your business… Embrace new opportunities Network The secret of building successful business relationships Adapt New rules on flexible working and how to benefit Discount Energy efficiency advice for retail businesses 1
  2. 2. Welcome With your input, our aim is to give you more of what you want, including the right help and advice to support your business What’s inside Energy market view 3 npower news 4 Hot topic: Flexible working 5 A big thanks to those of you Focus on: Energy efficiency for retailers 7 who’ve taken the time to Technology: Tablets 10 share some feedback with us. Legislation for SMEs, energy How to: Network 11 efficiency advice, expert ‘how Spotlight: Energy Services connections 13 to’ articles and green issues are often cited as popular subjects, so that’s what we’ve included in this issue. In particular, our Hot Your feedback matters Topic (page 5) looks at changes We value your comments and suggestions, to flexible working, and how you can adapt to ensure so if you have something to share, please your business benefits from new employment trends. email us at Our focus on energy efficiency targets retailers (page 7), with other sectors to feature in future issues. You can also learn more about networking (page 11), and how the npower Energy Services connections team works with new wind farms (page 13). Please keep your feedback coming (see box, right, for contact details). We really value your input. Rachel Barrass Customer Service Manager Editorial content provided by Susannah Lawson & Associates ( Phone calls: We may monitor and/or record calls for security, quality or training purposes. The cost of calls to 0800 numbers should be free from a landline but are likely to incur a charge from mobiles. Please check with your operator for exact charges. npower is a registered trademark and a trading name of Npower Direct Limited (registered in England and Wales No.3782443) and associated companies. Registered Office: Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon SN5 6PB. npm10572/RF12809/01.13 2
  3. 3. Energy Market View Energy market view Can the Green Deal soften the blow of price rises? With upgrades to our energy network and growing renewable subsidies in the headlines, Janet Wood explores the impact on fuel bills – and other news that could reduce them. In 2013 the government wants the Green Deal to be the big energy issue, and at last businesses Janet Wood is an can find out whether they can benefit from it independent energy – take a look at journalist and former saving-measures editor of Utility Week However, price rises are likely to be of more immediate concern to business customers. But it has to be said that some parts of the bill that are rising are outside the control of business energy suppliers. Negotiating prices for the bulk gas and electricity Networks under review networks, and local gas networks for the next eight years is almost complete, and is set to add We’ve looked before at these other costs, and some £12 to domestic bills annually and raise business are under the spotlight at the moment. Network bills accordingly. Price negotiations for the local costs, for example, make up about a fifth of the electricity networks will be in the spotlight in the average bill. coming year and take effect in 2015. While energy companies source and supply electricity and gas for their customers, they don’t Renewable subsidies bite own the pipes and wires over which they deliver, Another big impact for bills is the Feed in Tariff. any more than Amazon or Tesco owns This is the subsidy energy users are paying for all the roads by which they deliver their product. the solar PV panels that have sprung up on many Two dozen or so network companies do that, household and business roofs in the last couple of and these normally invisible companies have years, plus other forms of on-site renewable energy been highlighted recently. generation. Large-scale renewables are also being ramped up. There’s debate on the cost of this, but That’s because the price they can charge is being Ofgem estimates green initiatives add 4% to gas negotiated now. Their charges are strictly controlled and 10% to electricity bills. by regulator Ofgem, and in the past pricing discussions have been of little interest to outsiders. With rising energy costs, taking steps to increase But now the stakes are bigger: we are asking more efficiency certainly make more sense than ever – from our creaking energy networks and so the costs which brings us back to the Green Deal. But only time of upgrading will push up prices. will tell how popular it proves to be for Britain’s SMEs. 3
  4. 4. npower news Getting kids outdoors Research released by npower has revealed that despite 90% of UK children spending up to three hours a day online or using gadgets, nearly Elaine Midwinter three quarters (73%) wish they spent more receiving the award time outdoors. These findings were released as 100 of the Health Through Warmth scoops award country’s greenest young people headed to the An npower scheme that’s improved the quality of life Lake District, after winning an activity week in of more than 76,000 vulnerable people has won a the npower Climate Cops SOS competition. Community Initiative award from the Energy Institute. Pupils from schools in England and Wales competed for the prize – which includes an npower’s Health Through Warmth scheme provides adventure masterclass with Ray Mears (above) assistance with the funding and installation of heating – by devising a group activity to encourage their systems for people with long-term, cold-related peers to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. illnesses. “We deliver both practical and financial assistance to the most vulnerable people in our “npower’s Climate Cops SOS aims to educate communities who may otherwise fall through the net,” young people across the country to give them explains npower Health Through Warmth manager basic life skills,” explains Clare McDougall, Elaine Midwinter. npower’s Head of Education and Community. “We really believe that if young people spend Since it’s launch in 2000, the scheme has attracted more time outdoors, they will learn to love and more than £62 million in funding and helped tens of respect the environment and they’ll want to thousands of UK residents. For more information, preserve it for future generations.” visit 4
  5. 5. Hot topic Does flexible work? New rules on parental leave and a changing workforce mean companies will have to become more adaptable to flexible working. But, says SME expert Mark Williams, there may be benefits for employers too. News that fathers would get more parental taken will place a disproportionate strain on small leave under new Government proposals received firms and will be very complicated to administer,” a mixed reaction when it was announced last says National Chairman John Walker. November. Under the proposals, which could be introduced in 2015, women will be able to return to work just two weeks after giving birth and share Adapting to a changing workforce their remaining maternity leave with their partner, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and either by taking time off at the same time or Development (CIPD) welcomed the government in turns. proposals. “A shift in attitudes to flexible working is a natural reflection of the changing nature of Currently, new mothers can take up to 52 weeks’ work and the workforce,” says Chief Executive maternity leave, while fathers can take two weeks’ Peter Cheese. statutory paternity leave. Some fathers may also be entitled to additional paternity leave, which “More flexibility extends the gives them to up to 26 weeks’ leave if the mother returns to work. ability of employers to attract, retain and motivate a more The government also plans to extend the legal diverse workforce.” right to request flexible working to all employees. Currently, only parents with children below “Firms are increasingly finding they can benefit from 17 years (or below 18 if their son or daughter [greater] loyalty, commitment and engagement has disabilities) can request flexible working from a broad base of employees – not just working conditions, providing they have been employed mothers – if they adopt a more universal approach for at least 26 weeks. However, if there are sound to considering flexible working requests. Many small business reasons, employers can say no. businesses make extensive use of flexible working and, because of their size and personal relationships The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) with employees, can be among the best at making acknowledges that flexible parental leave is a good it work.” way to support working families, but its Chief Policy Director Katja Hall warns: “We must ensure The CIPD published a report in May 2012 called that the new system is simple to administer.” The Flexible Working Provision and Uptake. “We found Federation of Small Businesses believes extending that the most common forms of flexible working in flexible working will place an unwanted additional organisations, in order of popularity, were part-time burden on firms. “Allowing chunks of maternity working, job-sharing, flexi-time and term-time and paternity leave of as little as one week to be working,” says Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public 5
  6. 6. Hot topic Policy. “Flexible working arrangements can To find out about employers’ legal obligations be formal or informal. Although it’s preferable regarding flexible working, visit to include flexible working policies in your employer’s handbook, working from home is the type of flexible working practice most likely to be offered informally.” CIPD tips on implementing flexible working A happier workforce • Establish a clear process for how flexible An employee survey carried out for the CIPD working works in your business by Kingston University/Ipsos MORI found that workers with flexible working arrangements tend • Ensure that there are clear roles and to be “more emotionally engaged, more satisfied responsibilities for employees, line managers with their work, more likely to speak positively and human resources about their employer and less likely to quit”. • Assess current levels of support offered to line managers and ensure it is sufficient Willmott says numerous factors are contributing to increased interest in flexible working. • Invest in ongoing communication and “They include its potential value as a recruitment awareness raising and retention tool and the changing profile of the workforce. With more women in the • Assess how conducive your business culture is to labour market and an ageing population, flexible working – and take action accordingly it’s increasingly common for workers to have • Make use of pilots (when introducing new caring responsibilities outside work. Advances in initiatives) and trial periods (for individual flexible technology are also facilitating remote working working arrangements) to highlight potential and hot-desking, while there’s an increasing need problems with flexible working arrangements for businesses to operate 24/7. And because of tough economic conditions in recent years, • Build in opportunities and mechanisms some organisations have been offering part-time to monitor and evaluate progress with working or sabbaticals as a way to avoid flexible working or minimise redundancies,” Willmott concludes. 6
  7. 7. Focus on Energy efficiency for retail businesses Reducing costs is good news for any business, and this issue we focus on how shops and other small retailers could save on energy that may have a positive impact on their bottom line. Independent retailers are the unsung heroes of the However, despite this, research by npower found British High Street, accounting for two out of every that 53% of SMEs do not have any methods in three shops in the UK. According to Alan Hawkins, place to manage energy use efficiently. “Most Chief Executive of the British Independent Retailers organisations can save up to a fifth on their fuel Association, “Independent retailers are the glue that bills by better managing their energy and investing holds many local communities together. They bring in cost-effective measures,” explains Marlene. choice, variety and real service that you only get “The Carbon Trust has calculated that a 20% cut from owner-run businesses.” Yet, like many smaller in energy costs represents the same bottom line businesses in today’s difficult economic climate, benefit as a 5% increase in sales, proving that staying profitable can be challenging. saving energy really is one of the easiest ways to increase profits.” “Energy is an essential overhead for every type of business,” says Marlene Webley of npower’s SME team. “But for retailers, it’s especially important, where optimal lighting and temperature control are key to creating the right customer experience. Refrigeration can be another big cost if food and drink are on sale. So we find that retail customers are often very receptive to suggestions that could help them cut bills through greater energy efficiency measures.” Marlene recently attended the Independent Retail Show at Birmingham’s NEC, where npower was on Photo: hand to show how low cost measures could achieve tangible cost and energy savings. “We had a lot of interest from visitors to the retail show,” says Marlene Webley of the npower SME team (right) Marlene. “Maximising energy efficiency is a relatively chats to customers at the Independent Retail Show simple way for independent retailers to influence the bottom line.” 7
  8. 8. Focus on Ring up the savings: five steps Also check your heating system timer to ensure that its operating hours match the times when heating to better energy efficiency is required. It’s often possible to shut down heating 1. Reduce wastage – start by looking at how energy an hour before closing without any noticeable is used in your business and aim to ensure it is as difference to staff or customers. efficient as it can be. If equipment – for example lights, heating and ventilation – is not required, then turn it off. Many retailers could immediately 4. Keep cool with refrigeration – when using slash their energy bills by up to 10% with minimal refrigeration, it is important to ensure any debris is capital expenditure. removed which may restrict airflow around the unit, as this can lead to fridges and freezers consuming 2. Look at lighting – while it is important to more energy than required. Also consider fitting maintain customer experience and showcase night blinds, as these help maintain the quality of merchandise in the most effective way, it is chilled and frozen food and reduce heating costs also possible to make potential savings through by preventing cold air spilling out from cabinets. increasing energy efficiency of lighting. Changing from halogen spotlights to LEDs, 5. Get employees involved – changing employee for example, could use up to 80% less energy behaviour can also have a real impact, so and reduce maintenance costs too, as they last encouraging staff to think about energy usage many times longer. can help to reduce consumption. Appointing an ‘energy champion’ can be a simple but proactive 3. Turn the heat down – heating accounts for step. They can assist by taking responsibility for 40% of energy use in a typical retail environment, initiating small-scale efficiency practices and remind which means that there are big opportunities to fellow staff members of the everyday steps they make savings. During colder weather, customers can all undertake to bring energy usage down. will be wearing warmer clothing if coming in from outside, so there’s often no need to heat to a For more tips and advice, visit temperature that could make them uncomfortably SmartStart. And see over the page to find out hot while in-store. Reducing heating temperatures how a village shop fares in an energy audit. by just 1˚C can cut fuel consumption by around 8%. Source: The Carbon Trust 8
  9. 9. Case study Shopping for savings Replacing the fluorescent lamps with modern energy efficient alternatives could deliver savings in the region of 40-70%. What’s more, these could Walter Bush, owner of Baginton Village Stores in use the existing fittings, so there’s no need to invest Warwickshire, has run the convenience store for in new ones. seven years. “We open every day, and for six of those, are here from 5.30am to 6.30pm,” he says. 2 - Refrigeration As well as putting in long hours, Walter has been By installing a timer device on the refrigerators, looking to develop the store and enhance what’s savings of 30-50% could be achieved, on offer and the way in which it’s presented. predominantly from being able to switch them off “The problem is that energy is a major issue during periods of non-occupancy and over night when it comes to lighting and refrigeration in when they are currently unnecessarily running. this environment,” he says. So he was especially receptive to receive an Energy Audit from npower 3 - Voltage optimisation representative Andrew Fletcher. Like many convenience store owners, Walter experiences voltage spikes at his premises. After an inspection of the shop, Andrew was “This is very common and increasingly so in the certain that he could help Walter cut his energy UK now, whereby at different times of day or night, costs. “We’ve been able to confirm that there are voltage levels will increase and we often find that significant opportunities for energy savings,” light fittings are very susceptible to this,” explains he said. The three main areas identified were Andrew. The solution is to fit a voltage optimisation lighting, refrigeration and voltage optimisation. product, which can reduce business electricity 1 - Lighting consumption by around 10-12%. “In addition, it also ‘conditions’ the voltage and removes those dangerous spikes and therefore prevents lamps and other devices which are affected Walter Bush (left) with Energy by voltage from damage, Auditor Andrew Fletcher so extending their lifespan.” Walter’s verdict: “Any help and advice we can get on energy You can see a short film of the Baginton efficiency is sorely needed,” says Walter. Village Stores energy audit by visiting “Energy efficiency in this environment has got to become more of a priority with costs being as they are, so anything we can do to cut Also visit them down or to reduce the energy footprint of the business has got to be a good thing.” for more energy saving advice. 9
  10. 10. Technology Should your business buy a Tablet computer? As the workplace becomes more flexible, the demand for technology that can facilitate work on the move increases. Mark Williams looks at the latest trend in Tablets. According to the YouGov Tablet Tracker, the number of Tablet computers used in UK homes is set to double in 2013. The internet-based market research firm estimates that by August 2013, Tablet ownership will increase to more than 10-million, with Apple accounting for about 67% of the UK market and Samsung increasing its share to 10%. Many businesses are also now using Tablets, so if you’re thinking of buying one for yours, what are your options? The recently launched fourth-generation iPad (“with stunning Retina display, five megapixel iSight camera and ultra-fast wireless”) starts at £399 (as of January 2013). Third-generation iPads are available for £369, although you can pick up an iPad 2 for £329. If you’re on a budget, the iPad Mini sells for £269 upwards (all 16GB models). Many Android™ Tablet models are also available, including the ASUS Google Nexus 7, which, for less than £200, offers great value. The Galaxy range from Samsung, starting at about £269 for a 16GB A huge, bewildering array of apps (software Tablet, is also very popular. Other manufacturers applications) are available to download for Tablets who have brought Tablets to market include and these can enable you to access the internet, Blackberry, Fujitsu, Acer and Toshiba. send and receive emails, take notes, make images, type documents, produce and deliver presentations, Tablets are lighter, more portable and therefore access data, organise your day and many other key more convenient than a laptop. They can work business tasks. Buying a Tablet could certainly prove out cheaper, too. Tablets also provide a more a shrewd investment for your business in 2013. convenient option for working on the move than smartphones, as their larger size makes viewing information and onscreen typing significantly easier. And, of course, they can look impressive when presenting information to customers or clients. 10
  11. 11. How to… Build rapport when you Network Successful networking is about building relationships, but the key is not to sell yourself but rather to focus on finding common ground, as communications champion Will Kintish explains. The word ‘networking’ is becoming synonymous for some time, even though they may be a new with selling, attending events where people behave acquaintance. It becomes a relationship of mutual in an artificial manner, where there is sham and understanding and respect; all of a sudden you’re falsehood and lots of insincere behaviour. But when on the same wavelength. you understand what it takes to be a world-class networker, you shouldn’t experience any of Someone once defined rapport as ‘intense harmonious those negatives. accord’. When you have those feelings you can often say anything, within reason. You can ask questions Networking is simply building relationships; perhaps you wouldn’t normally ask or disagree without something everyone does every day. On certain worrying you might fall out. days we start a new relationship, on most days we reinforce existing relationships. The three keys steps Building rapport needs you both to have the same to building relationships are: values; honesty, integrity and reliability are just three • Know traits to come to mind. • Like • Trust Birds of a feather As you start to communicate, the key to building early Let’s focus on the ‘like’. But for the moment let’s rapport is finding common ground. It may be where call it building rapport. When you build rapport you both grew up, which university you went to or things magically happen. You relax with the other even the fact you were at different institutions but person and begin to feel you have known them studied the same subject. 11
  12. 12. How to… Commonalities in families are a great way to build When you do spot a potential opportunity, rapport but never ask anyone directly if they’re remember the event itself is not the place to have married or have children, as asking these questions a serious business conversation. The event is the to the wrong people on the wrong day can cause platform to start the relationship with a view to upset and embarrassment. meeting shortly afterwards. Ask permission to contact them in the next few days to set up a get-together. Instead, be more subtle by mentioning something about your situation and you often find they will I strongly recommend you try to get them to mention theirs if it’s similar. When you and the other commit to taking your call rather than just sending person have similar knowledge and expertise, again an email, as this keeps the communication more you find the conversation begins to flow smoothly. personal (and emails can easily be deleted). Remember, you’re following up because you think Skills you need your area of expertise and knowledge can add value When you are looking for potential business to their business. With this attitude, you should find opportunities, the key rapport-building skills are business development is about their business and asking pertinent and interesting questions and not yours! listening very carefully when the other person answers. People love talking about themselves Kindness and generosity – good networkers let them. Finally to build rapport, we need to be kind and generous. The greatest gift we can give to someone We learn nothing by talking, only by listening. at an event is our time and genuine interest. Be careful your questioning doesn’t turn into an Then when the conversation is over, offer to interrogation. But when you meet someone who is introduce them to others – or if you don’t know happy to share their business issues, listen and keep anyone, go hunting in pairs. Leaving someone probing. Business development is about helping alone is bad for rapport building. others not thinking ‘Ahaa here’s an opportunity to sell to achieve my targets’. True rapport is the way to build relationships. That’s what world-class networkers do. “When you build rapport things magically happen.” Will Kintish is a leading UK authority on effective and confident networking. Visit and for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking. Or if you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. 12
  13. 13. Spotlight The power to connect When a new site needs a new power supply, location and terrain are no obstacle to the npower Energy Services team. As we turn to more sources of renewable energy to meet our future power needs, the challenge of connecting new generating sites in often remote locations to the National Grid is set to increase. “Finding an appropriate location for a wind farm, for example, and then getting the necessary planning and community approval is only part of the story,” explains Derek Cave, Development Manager with npower’s Energy Services connections team. “Once a project has been given the go ahead, the infrastructure that will connect the wind turbines to the local electricity grid has to be planned and then built.” As well as generating and supplying energy to customers, npower has teams that can provide expertise when it comes to building on-site generation – for example installing wind turbines or a biomass generator – and then ensuring that meters are in place and the appropriate data collected. But Derek and his team focus on making sure any new sites can be connected to the national power supply. “We work with both new generators to ensure the energy they make can be exported to the Grid, and also with sites that require power, for example providing connections for new industrial or housing estates,” explains Derek. “Our team provides a smooth and comprehensive service – from finding out about a customer’s exact power requirements Bringing in the power cables to to liaising with local distribution network operators connect Lochelbank up to the Grid and ensuring the power is all connected properly to schedule.” 13
  14. 14. Lochelbank Wind Farm In addition to trenching and cable laying, the job included construction of high-voltage switchgear In the stunning location of the Ochil Hills near connecting turbines to a main switchroom. Perth and Kinross in Scotland, you will find “Each turbine also has a kind of ‘mini sub station’ Lochelbank Wind Farm. Completed last year, attached with a transformer in there to step up the the project has 12 turbines set over a 147-hectare voltage,” explains Derek. site. The wind farm has a total generating capacity of 9.6MW – enough clean energy to power around Working to the highest standards of health and 5,300 homes each year. safety is a primary concern on any job, adds Derek. “We also makes sure we comply with regulations, “The project was completed on time and to of course,” he says. budget, although there were challenges we had to overcome,” recalls Derek Cave of npower’s Another key consideration is minimising disruption Energy Services connections team. “Lochelbank is for people who live and work nearby. “The last a beautiful place but the weather can get very wet, thing you want to do is create a nuisance for which often makes conditions extremely muddy. anyone. And that includes the landowners, who in Frequently, we had to pump out water from the case of Lochelbank, have a farming business to trenches before cables could be laid.” run too.” 14