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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.

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Npower SME Q1 2013 Billing Booklet

  1. 1. Winter/Spring 2013here’s howwe can help your business…Embrace new opportunitiesNetworkThe secret of building successfulbusiness relationshipsAdaptNew rules on flexibleworking and how to benefitDiscountEnergy efficiency advicefor retail businesses 1
  2. 2. WelcomeWith your input, our aim is to give you more of whatyou want, including the right help and advice to supportyour 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, pleaseyour business benefits from new employment trends. email us at hereshow@npower.comOur focus on energy efficiency targets retailers (page 7),with other sectors to feature in future issues. You canalso learn more about networking (page 11), and howthe npower Energy Services connections team workswith new wind farms (page 13).Please keep your feedback coming (see box,right, for contact details). We really valueyour input.Rachel BarrassCustomer Service ManagerEditorial content provided by Susannah Lawson & Associates ( 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 arelikely 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 viewCan the Green Deal soften the blowof 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 Dealto be the big energy issue, and at last businesses Janet Wood is ancan find out whether they can benefit from it independent energy– take a look at journalist and formersaving-measures editor of Utility WeekHowever, price rises are likely to be of moreimmediate concern to business customers.But it has to be said that some parts of thebill that are rising are outside the control ofbusiness energy suppliers. Negotiating prices for the bulk gas and electricityNetworks under review networks, and local gas networks for the next eight years is almost complete, and is set to addWe’ve looked before at these other costs, and some £12 to domestic bills annually and raise businessare under the spotlight at the moment. Network bills accordingly. Price negotiations for the localcosts, for example, make up about a fifth of the electricity networks will be in the spotlight in theaverage bill. coming year and take effect in 2015.While energy companies source and supplyelectricity and gas for their customers, they don’t Renewable subsidies biteown 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 allthe roads by which they deliver their product. the solar PV panels that have sprung up on manyTwo dozen or so network companies do that, household and business roofs in the last couple ofand these normally invisible companies have years, plus other forms of on-site renewable energybeen highlighted recently. generation. Large-scale renewables are also being ramped up. There’s debate on the cost of this, butThat’s because the price they can charge is being Ofgem estimates green initiatives add 4% to gasnegotiated now. Their charges are strictly controlled and 10% to electricity regulator Ofgem, and in the past pricingdiscussions have been of little interest to outsiders. With rising energy costs, taking steps to increaseBut 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 timeof upgrading will push up prices. will tell how popular it proves to be for Britain’s SMEs. 3
  4. 4. npower newsGettingkids outdoorsResearch released by npower has revealed thatdespite 90% of UK children spending up tothree hours a day online or using gadgets, nearly Elaine Midwinterthree quarters (73%) wish they spent more receiving the awardtime outdoors.These findings were released as 100 of the Health Through Warmth scoops awardcountry’s greenest young people headed to the An npower scheme that’s improved the quality of lifeLake District, after winning an activity week in of more than 76,000 vulnerable people has won athe npower Climate Cops SOS competition. Community Initiative award from the Energy Institute.Pupils from schools in England and Walescompeted for the prize – which includes an npower’s Health Through Warmth scheme providesadventure 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-relatedpeers 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 managerbasic 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 attractedmore time outdoors, they will learn to love and more than £62 million in funding and helped tens ofrespect the environment and they’ll want to thousands of UK residents. For more information,preserve it for future generations.” visit 4
  5. 5. Hot topicDoes flexible work?New rules on parental leave and a changing workforce mean companies will have tobecome 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 smallleave 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 beintroduced in 2015, women will be able to returnto work just two weeks after giving birth and share Adapting to a changing workforcetheir remaining maternity leave with their partner, The Chartered Institute of Personnel andeither by taking time off at the same time or Development (CIPD) welcomed the governmentin turns. proposals. “A shift in attitudes to flexible working is a natural reflection of the changing nature ofCurrently, new mothers can take up to 52 weeks’ work and the workforce,” says Chief Executivematernity leave, while fathers can take two weeks’ Peter Cheese.statutory paternity leave. Some fathers may alsobe entitled to additional paternity leave, which “More flexibility extends thegives them to up to 26 weeks’ leave if the motherreturns to work. ability of employers to attract, retain and motivate a moreThe 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 from17 years (or below 18 if their son or daughter [greater] loyalty, commitment and engagementhas disabilities) can request flexible working from a broad base of employees – not just workingconditions, providing they have been employed mothers – if they adopt a more universal approachfor at least 26 weeks. However, if there are sound to considering flexible working requests. Many smallbusiness reasons, employers can say no. businesses make extensive use of flexible working and, because of their size and personal relationshipsThe Confederation of British Industry (CBI) with employees, can be among the best at makingacknowledges that flexible parental leave is a good it work.”way to support working families, but its ChiefPolicy Director Katja Hall warns: “We must ensure The CIPD published a report in May 2012 calledthat the new system is simple to administer.” The Flexible Working Provision and Uptake. “We foundFederation of Small Businesses believes extending that the most common forms of flexible working inflexible working will place an unwanted additional organisations, in order of popularity, were part-timeburden on firms. “Allowing chunks of maternity working, job-sharing, flexi-time and term-timeand paternity leave of as little as one week to be working,” says Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public 5
  6. 6. Hot topicPolicy. “Flexible working arrangements can To find out about employers’ legal obligationsbe formal or informal. Although it’s preferable regarding flexible working, visitto include flexible working policies in your’s handbook, working from homeis the type of flexible working practice mostlikely to be offered informally.” CIPD tips on implementing flexible workingA happier workforce • Establish a clear process for how flexibleAn employee survey carried out for the CIPD working works in your businessby Kingston University/Ipsos MORI found thatworkers with flexible working arrangements tend • Ensure that there are clear roles andto be “more emotionally engaged, more satisfied responsibilities for employees, line managerswith their work, more likely to speak positively and human resourcesabout their employer and less likely to quit”. • Assess current levels of support offered to line managers and ensure it is sufficientWillmott says numerous factors are contributingto increased interest in flexible working. • Invest in ongoing communication and“They include its potential value as a recruitment awareness raisingand retention tool and the changing profileof the workforce. With more women in the • Assess how conducive your business culture is tolabour market and an ageing population, flexible working – and take action accordinglyit’s increasingly common for workers to have • Make use of pilots (when introducing newcaring responsibilities outside work. Advances in initiatives) and trial periods (for individual flexibletechnology are also facilitating remote working working arrangements) to highlight potentialand hot-desking, while there’s an increasing need problems with flexible working arrangementsfor businesses to operate 24/7. And becauseof tough economic conditions in recent years, • Build in opportunities and mechanismssome organisations have been offering part-time to monitor and evaluate progress withworking or sabbaticals as a way to avoid flexible workingor minimise redundancies,” Willmott concludes. 6
  7. 7. Focus onEnergy efficiencyfor retail businessesReducing costs is good news for anybusiness, and this issue we focus onhow shops and other small retailerscould save on energy that may havea positive impact on their bottom line.Independent retailers are the unsung heroes of the However, despite this, research by npower foundBritish High Street, accounting for two out of every that 53% of SMEs do not have any methods inthree shops in the UK. According to Alan Hawkins, place to manage energy use efficiently. “MostChief Executive of the British Independent Retailers organisations can save up to a fifth on their fuelAssociation, “Independent retailers are the glue that bills by better managing their energy and investingholds 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% cutfrom owner-run businesses.” Yet, like many smaller in energy costs represents the same bottom linebusinesses in today’s difficult economic climate, benefit as a 5% increase in sales, proving thatstaying profitable can be challenging. saving energy really is one of the easiest ways to increase profits.”“Energy is an essential overhead for every type ofbusiness,” says Marlene Webley of npower’s SMEteam. “But for retailers, it’s especially important,where optimal lighting and temperature controlare key to creating the right customer experience.Refrigeration can be another big cost if food anddrink are on sale. So we find that retail customersare often very receptive to suggestions that couldhelp them cut bills through greater energyefficiency measures.”Marlene recently attended the Independent RetailShow at Birmingham’s NEC, where npower was on Photo: to show how low cost measures could achievetangible cost and energy savings. “We had a lotof 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 Showsimple way for independent retailers to influence thebottom line.” 7
  8. 8. Focus onRing up the savings: five steps Also check your heating system timer to ensure that its operating hours match the times when heatingto better energy efficiency is required. It’s often possible to shut down heating1. Reduce wastage – start by looking at how energy an hour before closing without any noticeableis used in your business and aim to ensure it is as difference to staff or customers.efficient as it can be. If equipment – for examplelights, heating and ventilation – is not required,then turn it off. Many retailers could immediately 4. Keep cool with refrigeration – when usingslash their energy bills by up to 10% with minimal refrigeration, it is important to ensure any debris iscapital expenditure. removed which may restrict airflow around the unit, as this can lead to fridges and freezers consuming2. Look at lighting – while it is important to more energy than required. Also consider fittingmaintain customer experience and showcase night blinds, as these help maintain the quality ofmerchandise in the most effective way, it is chilled and frozen food and reduce heating costsalso 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 employeefor example, could use up to 80% less energy behaviour can also have a real impact, soand reduce maintenance costs too, as they last encouraging staff to think about energy usagemany times longer. can help to reduce consumption. Appointing an ‘energy champion’ can be a simple but proactive3. Turn the heat down – heating accounts for step. They can assist by taking responsibility for40% of energy use in a typical retail environment, initiating small-scale efficiency practices and remindwhich means that there are big opportunities to fellow staff members of the everyday steps theymake savings. During colder weather, customers can all undertake to bring energy usage down.will be wearing warmer clothing if coming in fromoutside, so there’s often no need to heat to a For more tips and advice, visit that could make them uncomfortably SmartStart. And see over the page to find outhot while in-store. Reducing heating temperatures how a village shop fares in an energy just 1˚C can cut fuel consumption by around 8%. Source: The Carbon Trust 8
  9. 9. Case studyShopping for savings Replacing the fluorescent lamps with modern energy efficient alternatives could deliver savings in the region of 40-70%. What’s more, these couldWalter Bush, owner of Baginton Village Stores in use the existing fittings, so there’s no need to investWarwickshire, has run the convenience store for in new years. “We open every day, and for six ofthose, are here from 5.30am to 6.30pm,” he says. 2 - RefrigerationAs 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 nightwhen it comes to lighting and refrigeration in when they are currently unnecessarily running.this environment,” he says. So he was especiallyreceptive to receive an Energy Audit from npower 3 - Voltage optimisationrepresentative 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 thecertain 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 thatsignificant opportunities for energy savings,” light fittings are very susceptible to this,” explainshe said. The three main areas identified were Andrew. The solution is to fit a voltage optimisationlighting, refrigeration and voltage optimisation. product, which can reduce business electricity1 - 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. TechnologyShould your business buy a Tablet computer?As the workplace becomes more flexible, the demand for technology that can facilitatework on the move increases. Mark Williams looks at the latest trend in Tablets.According to the YouGov Tablet Tracker, thenumber of Tablet computers used in UK homesis set to double in 2013. The internet-basedmarket research firm estimates that by August2013, Tablet ownership will increase to morethan 10-million, with Apple accounting for about67% of the UK market and Samsung increasingits share to 10%.Many businesses are also now using Tablets, so ifyou’re thinking of buying one for yours, what areyour options?The recently launched fourth-generation iPad(“with stunning Retina display, five megapixeliSight camera and ultra-fast wireless”) starts at£399 (as of January 2013). Third-generation iPadsare available for £369, although you can pick up aniPad 2 for £329. If you’re on a budget, the iPad Minisells for £269 upwards (all 16GB models).Many Android™ Tablet models are also available,including the ASUS Google Nexus 7, which, for lessthan £200, offers great value. The Galaxy rangefrom Samsung, starting at about £269 for a 16GB A huge, bewildering array of apps (softwareTablet, is also very popular. Other manufacturers applications) are available to download for Tabletswho 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 keymore convenient than a laptop. They can work business tasks. Buying a Tablet could certainly proveout cheaper, too. Tablets also provide a more a shrewd investment for your business in 2013.convenient option for working on the move thansmartphones, as their larger size makes viewinginformation and onscreen typing significantlyeasier. And, of course, they can look impressivewhen presenting information to customersor 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 havemarried or have children, as asking these questions a serious business conversation. The event is theto the wrong people on the wrong day can cause platform to start the relationship with a view toupset 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 somethingabout your situation and you often find they will I strongly recommend you try to get them tomention theirs if it’s similar. When you and the other commit to taking your call rather than just sendingperson have similar knowledge and expertise, again an email, as this keeps the communication moreyou find the conversation begins to flow smoothly. personal (and emails can easily be deleted). Remember, you’re following up because you thinkSkills you need your area of expertise and knowledge can add valueWhen you are looking for potential business to their business. With this attitude, you should findopportunities, the key rapport-building skills are business development is about their business andasking pertinent and interesting questions and not yours!listening very carefully when the other personanswers. 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 someoneWe 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 tointerrogation. But when you meet someone who is introduce them to others – or if you don’t knowhappy to share their business issues, listen and keep anyone, go hunting in pairs. Leaving someoneprobing. Business development is about helping alone is bad for rapport building.others not thinking ‘Ahaa here’s an opportunity tosell 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 valuableinformation on all aspects of networking. Or if you’d like Will to speak atyour 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 switchgearIn 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 thethe project has 12 turbines set over a 147-hectare voltage,” explains The wind farm has a total generating capacityof 9.6MW – enough clean energy to power around Working to the highest standards of health and5,300 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 hadto overcome,” recalls Derek Cave of npower’s Another key consideration is minimising disruptionEnergy Services connections team. “Lochelbank is for people who live and work nearby. “The lasta beautiful place but the weather can get very wet, thing you want to do is create a nuisance forwhich often makes conditions extremely muddy. anyone. And that includes the landowners, who inFrequently, we had to pump out water from the case of Lochelbank, have a farming business totrenches before cables could be laid.” run too.” 14