Compare the utility market

    Compare the utility market

     

    Rising prices
    We are all conscious that a review of our utility suppliers could produce significant savings and whilst plunging temperatures and rising fuel costs bring this into even sharper focus there is not always time to dedicate to the necessary research.  However, rising energy costs are of even more interest to larger houses where due to age, construction, size and lifestyle, some due diligence could result in substantially reduced bills.

    Electricity and gas
    Some relatively simple initial checks can produce significant savings without the hassle of changing suppliers.  Ensuring you are only paying 5% VAT for energy used by residential property is essential and then by changing to ‘paperless’ billing and paying by monthly direct debit a further 10% saving on current charges can be made. 

    If you are feeling more adventurous then moving suppliers can produce even greater savings – a quick search on price comparison websites can often show savings in the order of 2p - 5p per kWh (unit of electricity) are achievable depending on when you last changed your supplier.  Also ensure the type of price plan suits your house and lifestyle, for example:

    • is dual fuel an option as buying both gas and electricity from the same supplier can lead to savings
    • why pay a large daily standing charge in order to benefit from a low unit price when you are only using the property at weekends?

    Heating oil
    Increasing heating oil prices have been a cause for serious concern for those not lucky enough to live on the mains gas network.  For Country House owners where oil usage can be quite astronomic it really does pay to contact a range of alternative suppliers in your locality. 

    If a cheaper price cannot be found then consider joining a buying cooperative.  By joining other oil buyers in your area (groups can be found in your county by searching on The People's Power website) you not only benefit from bulk purchasing power but also delivery costs can be reduced.  Joining these schemes does however require planning as for them to work a number of buyers need to commit together at a certain time and thereafter delivery dates are fixed – thus if you need oil urgently having a tried and trusted supplier who can deliver the following day does have its benefits!

    Water
    Unfortunately mains water has to be purchased from the company responsible for your geographical area and so there is no market to go to ensure you are getting the best deal.  However, the savings available to Country Houses with the benefit of private water supplies can be huge. 

    A large amount of the water used by Country House goes on the garden which does not need to be of drinking quality.  The investment in the infrastructure (bore holes, holding tanks, pumping equipment and filters) can be repaid in as little as 2–3 years depending on usage. 

    It is vital though to understand the underlying geology (a survey from the British Geological Society will help) to establish if a viable supply exists and if so how deep it might be so that the cost of sinking the hole can be more accurately predicted.  Furthermore it is vital to speak to the Environment Agency as even if the amount of water you wish to abstract is relatively small, and so does not require an abstraction licence, the Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CMAS) in your area may require that all boreholes are licensed.

     
     

    Key contacts

    Philip Eddell

    Philip Eddell

    Director
    Country House Consultancy

    Savills Newbury

    +44 (0) 1635 277 709

    +44 (0) 1635 277 709