Sifting through bills, trying to access meter readings and comparing tariffs that make little or no sense are all common pain points for housing associations. When added up, the cost of these problems can be measured not just in pounds and pence but also in time, a one commodity few of us have these days.
There a few simple steps that housing associations can take to tackle these issues, easing the burden and saving money in the process:
- Choose one energy supplier to work with. Sounds simple, right? Sometimes not! Managing a large portfolio comes with lots of moving parts, tenants moving in and out, new properties becoming available, the list goes on! Perhaps parties previously involved with properties had responsibility to pick their supplier which could not be supplier of choice.
- Consider having different providers for Gas and Electricity: This goes against point one and does potentially add a little more complexity in to the portfolio, but could result in large savings. There are electricity specialists and gas specialists in the industry and although a lot of suppliers offer dual fuels, experience tells us that better contractual terms can often be obtained by tendering these separately.
- Align your contract end dates: Another one that sounds like a no brainer but time and time again we see large portfolios, often with the same supplier, that have end dates all over the spectrum. By picking one common end date and using this every time a supply comes up for renewal you are not only reducing the times you have to tender but are also making your portfolio a much more attractive proposition for your potential supplier.
- Have Smart Meters Installed: Estimated bills and meter readings are common problems. With the introduction of Smart Meters taking meter readings can be removed from your “To-Do” List. In your portfolio you should establish which properties have Smart Meters and which do not then make it a requirement of the winning provider to upgrade those annoying old-style meters within a set time frame.
- Expect more from your Utilities Management Consultancy: Many housing associations retain the services of a management consultancy or will at least engage with them for compliant tender exercises. Obtaining a competitive rate for your portfolio should be the absolute minimum requirement of any consultancy, this is the easy bit. We think you should expect more than just a procurement service from your utilities management consultancy. Looking after your ongoing needs with a proactive approach and providing a detailed level of service should be the standard. If you can achieve this, the stress of portfolio management becomes significantly less.