LLWCHWR WORKING Mens Club is based on the outskirts of Swansea, Wales. The building consists of two stories, with a total capacity of 400 people. Steve Hill is the secretary of the club, having taken up the position in 2005. One of his responsibilities is the management of the clubs energy provision, and it was after frustrations with the clubs previous energy supplier that Steve heard about First Utility and its smart metered energy offering, and decided to switch providers.
When Steve took over as Secretary, he was frustrated with the approach of the clubs existing energy supplier. Following years of quarterly bills and a monthly direct debit that simply didnt cover the level of energy being used, he was shocked to discover that the club had built up a £4,500 debt on its account. However after increasing the monthly payment and clearing the debt, things then went to the other extreme, with the club finding that it had built up a surplus of £3,000. It was this lack of control, flexibility and visibility over what they were spending on energy, and an inability to work out exactly what the club needed to pay on a regular basis, that led to Steve switching to First Utility.
First Utility solution
I considered a range of options, explains Steve, and although First Utility was one of the cheapest, the real deciding factor was that First Utility offer to install a smart meter. I could see that in the longer term, a smart meter would help us to save more money than just chasing the best deals year on year.
Steve agreed to a three-year contract with First Utility for the clubs energy provision, and the smart meter was installed within a few weeks.
The first bill after smart meter installation marked the start of things to come. It was accurate! Explains Steve. And every month, we get a 100% accurate bill detailing the energy that we have used. Our monthly direct debit then pays off exactly what we owe, meaning there is no huge debt or credit on our account. The accurate bill is enabled by First Utilitys smart meters sending automatic meter readings back to its offices to produce a single, itemised electricity bill each month.
Whats more, I was able to go online and look at a graph showing the clubs energy consumption month-on-month, day-by-day and even down to each half-hour through the day.
The impact was immediate. Being able to see the detail of how much energy was being used led to the club examining in greater detail how it could cut back on its baseline energy consumption. To start with, the clubs Committee took the decision to install energy saving lighting throughout the building. Using First Utilitys online portal, they also identified the clubs drinks fridges as a major energy draw, and rather than leave these on throughout the week when the club was not in use, turned them off until the weekend.
First Utilitys online portal also allowed Steve to identify that the clubs air conditioning units were using a lot of energy, and recent renovation saw these units replaced with better energy-rated versions, which Steve says have had a major impact. Our bills over the last six months since the lower energy-consumption aircon units were installed have dropped significantly.
Overall, I can clearly see the impact that our changes have made. For example usage has dropped significantly during the week as a result turning off our drinks fridges. In general, Ive become much more aware of where we spend money on energy and how we can make reductions.
Steve estimates that since using First Utilitys smart metered energy service, the club is saving between 15 and 20% on its energy spend each month. When we switched providers, we were paying around £1,200 per month on our energy bills. Nowadays its around £1,000 and I would attribute that to the impact the smart meter has made on our approach to energy and saving energy.
Weve just renewed our contract with First Utility for another three years. Says Steve. Ive been really happy with the service weve received so far, and it has been a pleasant surprise to see just how much weve saved simply by being able to see and measure the energy were using and the impact of the changes we have made to our energy use.