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How can charities manage rising utility costs and commit to sustainability?

Paul Antoniades, director at ACEVO’s strategic partner Energycentric, who set up the ACEVO Utilities Scheme in 2013, provides valuable advice to help organisations cope with these challenging times.

Utility bills are expected to keep rising until at least 2023, in what has been described as a national crisis.  This is particularly concerning for many charities and non-profits, many of whom are dealing with large operating costs. Organisations need to act now to plan for the increases; the timing of this is crucial to ensure that forecasts are realistic, and budgets are set correctly.

It is still possible to gain control of utility spending with careful management.  An experienced utilities specialist can help guide an organisation through the challenges and provide the options for cleaner, more responsible and sustainable solutions.

Review your current billing

Sometimes, simple changes can make noticeable cost savings. Charities and non-profits are often overcharged and exemptions, VAT reductions and rebates are sometimes overlooked. It is always advisable to check in with current suppliers regularly to question utilities expenditure and ensure that all the relevant savings are being applied.

Sustainability and ethical utilities

In response to the urgent threat of climate breakdown, many charities and non-profits of all sizes are carefully evaluating their use of utilities and taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. Many are undertaking regular utilities efficiency tests, environmental audits and creating strategic plans to tackle concerns and implement environmental initiatives.

Before the pandemic, the cost difference between green (sustainable) and brown (standard) energy was significant. But the dynamics have changed with wholesale gas and electric prices rising discernibly, due to supply and demand issues worldwide. Ofgem is looking at ways to end its reliance on gas from abroad and in recent times we have seen this price gap between green and brown energy narrow, making it a good time to start your sustainability journey.

ACEVO’s climate emergency committee recently shared a positive story about how Quo Vadis Trust worked to change several practices to reduce utility usage and increase energy and water efficiency. This award-winning mental health charity formed an emissions reduction plan and established practices to change staff, volunteers and community behaviour. This included changing travel behaviours to meet their commitment to being a more environmentally friendly organisation.

Consider a trusted utility scheme

Innovative and effective programs such as the ACEVO Utilities Scheme have been specifically designed to help charities and non-profits to achieve significant cost savings for utilities through a competitively priced group contract.  The current spikes in utility wholesale prices can be devastating for an organisation’s cash flow and the collective buying power of a group, can help to manage costs considerably.  Schemes can also help an organisation to reach its sustainability targets through the purchasing of 100% renewable energy.

The ACEVO Utilities Scheme can be entirely flexible depending on the needs of each organisation and whilst member organisations benefit from the group strategy, they can remain completely independent.  An organisation joining the scheme usually would follow the steps in this roadmap.

With any relationship, it is important to have transparency, accountability, trust, and open and honest conversations should take place to ensure the best outcomes. 

Complimentary utilities review for ACEVO members

Established in 2013, the ACEVO Utilities Scheme is a partnership between ACEVO and the leading utility consultancy Energycentric. The Scheme provides customised services for organisations of all sizes and is dedicated to helping UK charities and non-profits manage their energy and water costs, whilst also focussing on sustainability.

Visit the FAQ page to find out more or can arrange a free utilities review by contacting Helen O’Brien.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

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