Cold weather prompts warning to Norfolk businesses over energy spike

Norfolk businesses are being warned to beware a sudden spike in their energy bills as the cold snap sees temperatures plummet across the county.

Bitterly cold weather has seen daytime temperatures plummet four or five degrees lower than average for February - traditionally the coldest month of the year.

There were reports of snow falling in West Norfolk yesterday and below temperatures are expected to continue into the weekend.

Emily Groves, managing director of Norwich-based Indigo Swan, the business electricity and gas price comparison company said with more cold weather on the war, firms could be caught out by a sharp rise in their bills.

She added that smaller firms could be particularly hard hit with bills shooting up by up to 30pc because of the extra demand.

'The electricity and gas used by both business and domestic customers has been significantly less up until this point,' she said. 'But the cold snap means that many companies will be significantly picking up on their consumption levels so when the next bills come through they could be considerably higher.'

Comparitively mild weather and recent announcements of cost cutting by energy suppliers such as British Gas may also have lulled some firms into a false sense of security causing them to fail to set aside any contingency funding for using more energy.

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'The business energy market is priced very differently to the domestic market, and what's happening in the wholesale market needs to be taken into consideration,' she added. 'They will definitely be using more energy to heat their premises, but it's important to make sure you are not spending too much, if you are not in a contract that's something you need to look at.

'The large energy users really need to plan, while an 20-30pc increase in energy spending could have a dramatic effect on a small business. Because they are the ones involved in every aspect of their business, they often simply don't have the time to concentrate on what's happening to their energy costs.'

Meanwhile Emma Tipple, business continuity manager at Norfolk County Council said the cold weather highlighted the importance for businesses to have an up to date business continuity plan.

'The actions advised are very similar in a number of different potential problems and the advice for cold weather is similar to those for flooding or pandemic flu,' she said. 'But your plan needs to establish what you expect staff to do in the event of extreme conditions, whether you will pay employees who can't attend work because of the weather, and whether any roles can be carried out at home.'