Non-household water users such as businesses, charities and public sector organisations with business premises in England can choose their water supplier, no matter how much they use.
The open energy market is still relatively new. The non-domestic retail market in England only opened up in April 2017 and awareness still holds potential switchers back.
Research from the water watchdog found that only two in five (41%) non-household customers think they can change their water supplier.
Bigger businesses are the most active in the water market. Medium-sized firms with fewer than 250 employees are twice as likely as micro businesses (fewer than 10 employees) to look at or negotiate a better deal.
Negotiating with and switching water retailers can unlock a number of benefits for businesses including:
- Lower prices
- Better customer service
- Tailored services
- Water efficiency
- Consolidated suppliers and bills
If you are going to go to the market looking for a better deal, there are some things that you need to be aware of.
How the business water market works
The retail water market in England is the largest of its type in the world.
It means that 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector organisations are no longer limited to their regional monopoly and can choose their supplier.
The market works like other open utility markets like telecoms, electricity and gas. Eligible customers choose a retail supplier, which buys services from a wholesale supplier, which physically supplies the water to business premises and remove any wastewater.
As well as water and wastewater, these retailers can offer a range of additional services including metering, auditing, leak detection and repair, benchmarking and legionella services.
The big regional suppliers continue to serve non-eligible and household customers.
The market is monitored and regulated by Ofwat, which can intervene to protect non-domestic customers.
How to switch
Switching water suppliers is relatively straightforward.
There are 24 retail suppliers serving the non-domestic market in England.
To get the best deal, businesses should contact several suppliers, and furnish them with the necessary information to request a quote.
Non-domestic water customers can also negotiate with suppliers to try and reduce prices even further or getting access to different ancillary services.
Businesses that use a lot of water and businesses with multiple sites are likely to see the biggest savings compared with their previous supplier.
To request a quote, you will need to have information including:
- Organisation name
- Address including postcode
- Annual consumption
- Supply point ID (SPID) – this is a unique reference number for your meter and should appear on non-domestic water bills
- Contact name at the premises
- Contact number at the premises
It is also desirable to have:
- Unique property reference number
- Demand profile (e.g. 24/7 or 9-5)
- Annual spend
Using a broker
Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) such as brokers can help businesses access the best deals for their water supply.
TPIs don’t provide the water, but they can broker deals for non-domestic clients.
Brokers are water market experts and can save time for businesses by speaking to several different suppliers and negotiating deals on their behalf.
Some brokers can also offer advice on water usage and any ancillary services that might benefit a business.