The Unicom guide to meter reads

The Unicom guide to meter reads

We understand that when running a business, you already have 101 things to think about (it’s one of the reasons we created our unique one bill solution) so we realise that reading your utility meters is likely to be low down on your ‘To-Do’ list.  

However, this simple task, which only takes a few minutes, is vital to make sure you receive accurate bills for your usage so you can manage cashflow. Whether, you have Business WaterGas, or Green Electricity we have put together a quick and easy guide that will help you with those all important meter reads.  

Why should I read my meter? 

We need meter reads to accurately bill you for your Unicom Utilities. When we receive your meter read, we use this to calculate your usage for the month. (You can check this out in more detail in our Understanding your One Bill blog.) 

If we don’t have your meter readings we’ll estimate your usage. This can sometimes mean that you may end up paying too much or too little. 

So, the more meter reads you provide, the more confident you can be that your bills are accurate. We highly recommend that you submit reads to us on the last working day of every month.  

The good news is, that whenever you submit an accurate meter read your invoice will be amended accordingly in the next billing cycle, so you will always end up paying for the services you’ve used! 

How do I read my meter? 

Meter reads…as easy as A, B, C.  

Business meters are no different to household meters and are just as simple to read. Whilst there are a variety of meter types available, the golden rule to remember is: we don’t need any numbers in red or after a decimal place. 

We’ve put below a guide for the different meter types and how you can read them.  

Electricity Meters

Electricity meters come in various models, and we’ve got a guide on them all to help you provide us with your Business Electricity usage.  

 

Digital – No button  

This is the easiest meter to read, all you need to do is read the numbers on the display before the decimal point from left to right. Nice and simple. 

For example, the meter read above is 122. 

 

Digital – With button 

Digital meters with buttons can vary. Again, once the meter read is displayed you’ll be reading it from left to right.  

 

  • Ampy: press the blue button to display the readings. These are the last 6 digits on the right! 

The meter reading here is 302711. 

  • Elster: press the orange button on right hand side to cycle through the display and keep pressing the button until you’ve read all of the display. 

The meter read above is 453988. 

  • Calmu (black meter): press the yellow button to cycle through the display, the left screen shows the reading information we need. 

The reading is: 655432. 

  • PRI Sprint Meters: Press the turquoise blue button on right hand side to display read. 

The reading is: 453988.

 

Handy hint: If your digital electric meter has two readings, these are read in the same way from left to right and ignoring any numbers after the decimal point or in red. We will need both to calculate your usage. 

 

Mechanical dials 

  1. Mechanical dials are read from left to right. The numbers underneath the dials represent their place value. So always start the read with the highest number underneath the dial and work all the way down to the lowest.  
  2. Any dials in red should be ignored.  
  3. Please be aware that some dials move in a clockwise direction and others anti-clockwise. 
  4. If the pointer is between two figures, always read the lowest of the 2 numbers. For example, if the pointer is between 4 and 5, the number you read is 4 (because your usage hasn’t reached 5 yet!) 
  5. When the pointer is directly on a number, for example 8, pay attention to the next dial to the right. If that dial on the right is between 9 and 0, you read 7 for the initial dial. If the dial on the right is between 0 and 1, you read 8 for the initial dial. 

Let’s look at some examples: 

  • 5 Dial clock meters –  

Meter read with last digit showing 1/10 – Ignore dial with 1/10 that is usually in red. 

Digit showing 0.1 – Ignore dial with 0.1 that is usually in red. 

Meter read is: 94694. 

  • 6 Dial clock meters –  

These work in exactly the same way as the above, just with an extra place value. Start your reading from the highest number above the dial and work your way towards the lowest.

Meter read is: 113489.

 

Mechanical Cyclonical Dials 

To read these meters you simply write down the figures that are displayed starting from left to right. The digits for your reading will be in the black boxes and separated by the decimal and red box. 

Here’s a 5-dial example: 

Meter read is: 7712. 

And a 6-dial example: 

Meter read is: 13426.

Gas Meter

The way to read a gas meter is similar to electric. They are all easy and quick to read! 

 

Digital 

Digital gas meters are either imperial or metric.  

  • Imperial – An Imperial gas meters has four main numbers. To read it, you should start off by reading the first four digits from left to right and don’t include any numbers in red.  

Meter read is: 7712. 

  • Metric – A metric gas meter has five numbers. To read it, you should take note of the first five numbers from left to right and don’t include anything after a space or decimal point. 

Meter read is: 18024 

Handy hint: If your digital gas meter has two readings, these are read in the same way from left to right and ignoring any numbers after the decimal point or in red. We will need both to calculate your usage.  

 

Dial gas meters 

When taking a dial gas meter reading, there are a few rules to remember to make it easier for you: 

  1. Ignore any red dials, ones marked ‘100 per rev’ and large dials  
  2. Start off by taking the reading from left to right 
  3. In the case that the pointer is between two figures, remember to take the lower number. If it’s between 9 and 0, record 9. If the pointer is directly on a number, check the next dial to the right. If that dial reads 8 or 9, then lower the reading for the dial on its left by one.  

Meter read is: 0140 

 

Cyclonic gas meters 

To read these meters you simply note down the figures that are displayed in the black box and don’t take the readings in the red box. 

Meter read is: 231. 

Water Meters

Your water meter is a little different to your electric and gas meters, the dial still records your current usage so taking your meter reading for water is important. 

Analogue 

If your meter is an older style, you’ll have black digits on the left and red on the right. For your meter reading, you only need to take note of the black numbers. Start reading the numbers in black from left to right as they show the number of cubic metres used. (Whereas the numbers in red only show the litres used.) 

Meter read is: 13. 

 

AMR 

Automated Meter Reading (AMR) meters have inbuilt technology to collect data from the meter and provide it directly to us so you don’t have to. But, you can use the data to monitor consumption and make savings. 

Meter read is: 22. 

Keeping an eye on your meter readings can help you monitor your usage. By regularly providing us with meter reads, you will always have an accurate bill which can help with your business cashflow. The easiest way to give us your meter reads is through your Customer Zone (try to do this by the last working day of each month). You can also send us an email to info@switchingon.com with your meter read or call our customer services team on 0161 946 4444. 

Unicom Mobile: brand-new and especially for you

As a small business specialist, Unicom understands that increasingly busy business owners are no longer confined to the traditional office environment. You’re out and about, being able to take your business with you wherever you go 

In light of this, we’ve looked at our Mobile service to see what more we could offer to our existing customers. The result is a brand-new offer launching 2nd July 2019. Unicom Mobiles are exclusively available to existing customers and now come with all of these benefits: 

Unlimited texts and calls 

All Mobile contracts now come with unlimited texts and calls as standard1 so you can keep in touch with your customers, suppliers and colleagues whilst on the go.  

Flexibility on paying for your handset 

We know that effective cashflow management is vital in your business, it’s one of the reasons why we created our One Bill solution (more on that below) and why we have created our new handset payment plans. 

You can choose to: 

  • Spread the cost of your new handset across the 24 months of your contract. 
  • Pay an upfront cost then pay the remainder in monthly payments. 
  • Pay for the handset upfront and benefit from a 10% discount. 

Robust network coverage 

The Mobile network we use is one of the best in the country. To see for yourself, put our Coverage Checker to the test. 

Keep your existing number 

Worried about losing your existing number? No need to be. Simply ask your current provider for a PAC and we’ll be able to port across your number.  

Call divert from your Unicom landline to your Mobile 

Just one of the benefits of having your Fixed Line and Mobile service from the same provider is our call divert service which allows you to divert callsinto your landline to your Mobile. Never miss a call again! 

Streamline another service onto your One Bill solution 

By streamlining another service onto your One Bill solution you’ll have one less provider to deal with, one less bill to manage and more time to focus on your business.  

One point of contact 

Not only will you have One Bill for your services, you’ll have one point of contact too. Should you need anything, our UK-based customer service team is on-hand Monday-Friday 9am-6pm. For anything outside of these hours, you can log on to your exclusive online portal Customer Zone.  

 

To find out more information about Unicom Mobile and see our great range of handsets visit our product page here. Or, if you’d like to speak to one of our friendly advisors about switching to Unicom Mobile call us today on 0161 465 6696.

 

1Restricted to a maximum of 99 distinct numbers, beyond this usage will be charged at the applicable out of bundle cost. 

2Monthly charge of £2.99 for call diversion. Call charges apply to diverted calls at the applicable out of bundle cost.  

Be prepared for winter, our tips on how to prevent frozen pipes

Be prepared for winter, our tips on how to prevent frozen pipes

 

At Unicom, we are always working so the water cycle never stops. We believe the best way to prevent frozen or burst pipes is to be prepared during cold weather. Our winter information gives you helpful advice on how to heat, insulate and protect your home, so we can all play our part to keep the water cycle running smoothly.

Our tips on looking after your pipes in winter:

6 degrees and milder

  • Leave your heating on, using a low setting.
  • If you live in an apartment, leave the heating on low in rooms where the mains pipe supplies neighbouring apartments.
  • If you’re going away, then make sure you have someone who can regularly check for any problems in your home.
  • Ensure neighbours have a key for your home (or contact details for someone who does) in case of an emergency.
  • If your property is going to be vacant over the winter months, turn off your water supply and drain the system – a licensed plumber should be able to give you advice about this – visit www.watersafe.org.uk.
  • Now is a good time to locate your stop valve in your home. You may want to consider fitting an automatic stop valve – they can reduce damage to your property from burst internal pipes.

1C to 5C

  • Your water tank should be fitted with an insulation jacket or alternatively, the top and sides of the tank can be wrapped with suitable insulation material.
  • Don’t place loft insulation under the tank, as this stops heat from the rooms below helping to keep the tank warm.
  • Toilet cisterns, water tanks or pipes in exposed places or unheated outbuildings, should be insulated. Better still drain them for winter if you’re not using them.
  • Buy good quality insulation – the thinner the pipe the thicker the insulation must be. 15mm or 1/2″ pipes need insulation which is 25mm thick, 28mm or 1″ pipe needs insulation which is at least 19mm thick.

0 degrees and under

Pipes are now liable to freeze

  • Dripping water increases the risk of freezing, so have any leaks at taps or valves repaired as soon as you discover them.
  • Cold draughts also increase your heating bills and can cause frozen pipework.
  • Look out for your neighbours, especially the frail, elderly and vulnerable.
  • We recommend that you call a plumber for a professional opinion on any issue with the pipework in your property. However, Scottish Water, one of our wholesale suppliers, have a video on how to thaw pipes if you do experience a frozen pipe scenario and wish to deal with it yourself.
  • If you do have a water emergency please contact us on 0161 465 6613 or you can contact us via the customer zone.

Brexit Fails To Dent UK SME Confidence

Brexit Fails To Dent UK SME Confidence

 

On 23rd June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU (often referred to as Brexit). In the aftermath, UK Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, the value of the British Pound dropped to its lowest point in over 30 years and US $2tr was wiped from global markets. But new figures have shown Unicom that Brexit has failed to dent UK small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) confidence.

Enduring confidence

The Business Growth Fund (BGF), which provides long-term capital to British companies, recently released its latest Growth Climate Index. The Index, which surveyed 450 respondents, serves as a key indicator of UK business confidence. It found that 90% of business leaders believe that Brexit will facilitate a short-term fall in national economic expansion.

Despite this expectation, 74% of those questioned said that they still believe that the UK is a great place to set up and expand a company. Only 41% of those polled admitted that they postponed vital business decisions throughout the referendum campaign period, despite uncertainty around its result and the economic instability that Brexit would bring.

Negotiation priorities

The Growth Climate Index also asked small businesses about what the UK should prioritise in its upcoming negotiations to leave the EU. Over half (54%) of those polled said that ensuring British companies can still access the single EU market should be the key focus. More than two in ten (22%) said that ensuring foreign companies remain or invest in the UK should be the priority.

Just 10% of those polled said that drawing the best global skills and talent to UK shores should be the priority, while 9% think the main focus of negotiations should be reducing regulatory burdens on businesses. When asked which sector will be most affected by Brexit, 58% of those polled said financial services, with manufacturing and construction following at 16% and 9% respectively.

Strong fundamentals

Commenting, BGF Chief Executive Stephen Walton said: “Business leaders and entrepreneurs are clearly concerned about some of the implications of Brexit, but like me they remain positive about Britain as a place to do business. The fundamentals that make the UK so attractive to growing businesses have not disappeared, and businesses will continue to contribute to the economy and create jobs.”

“It is vital that business continues to make its voice heard to ensure that its priorities are high on the next government’s agenda. Most importantly, we should aim to ensure that Britain remains a pro-enterprise country and that businesses retain the best possible access to the single market.”

Robust business environment

CNN Money notes that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world, with gross domestic product measuring US$3tr as of early 2016. The UK was ranked seventh in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 report, unchanged from the year before despite Brexit uncertainty. Within this context, Walton makes a valid point; the UK is a great place to start and grow a business, even in a post-Brexit world.

Small Business Owners Ask: Should I Give Up, Or Should I Just Keep Chasing Payments?

Small Business Owners Ask: Should I Give Up, Or Should I Just Keep Chasing Payments?

 

Recently, a group of UK-based small business owners drew inspiration from Adele’s recent hit, ‘Someone Like You,’ in order to shed light on the late payments problem that continues to plague small companies up and down the country.

Major problem

New research illustrates just how big a problem late payments are for the UK’s 5.4m small businesses. On average, they are forced to devote 10% (an hour) of their working days dealing with unpaid invoices. Three out of every five (60%) invoices issued by UK-based small enterprises are not paid on time.

Chasing payments

In order to increase awareness of this issue, the Daily Mail writes, the chasingpayments.com website has created a parody of Adele’s 2008 single ‘Chasing Pavements,’ called ‘Chasing Payments.’ The clip sees a group of British small business owners ask themselves, “Should I give up or should I just keep chasing payments,” illustrating the frustration that often comes with handling this task.

Throughout the song’s accompanying video, the small company heads act out the daily struggles that come with hunting down unpaid client invoices. While doing so, they croon lyrical gems such as “I pick up the phone, “To hear the same excuses, “Sorry, Dave’s not answering his phone,” I’m not surprised he’s chuffing useless.”

Has to change

Speaking out, Gary Turner, the Co-Founder of Xero, which runs chasingpayments.com, noted: “The late payment epidemic has to change so small business founders do not spend so many hours chasing debt and worrying about cash flow on the back. With small businesses making up a staggering 99.8% of the British economic engine, this is a critical issue to sort for the UK economy as a whole.”

Funding operations

This parody has drawn attention to a very real problem for UK small business owners. In early 2016, research conducted by Zurich indicated that 41% of British small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) owner managers believe that late payments had a significant impact on their company’s cash flow. Meanwhile, 67% of SME heads suggested that unpaid invoices are leading some UK small businesses to close down.

It is essential that small businesses maintain a steady cash flow. This allows them to meet regular operating costs such as paying staff wages and buying supplies, so when clients pay late, these businesses find it harder to operate effectively. At best, this limits their ability to grow, at worst it can force them to cease trading. By harnessing the cultural power of music, chasingpayments.com has reminded the UK’s small business leaders that they should never stop chasing payments.

SMEs Could Deliver More Apprentices

SMEs could deliver more apprentices

 

In a new report, business lobbying Group the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has indicated that with appropriate governmental support, the UK’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), could take on over two million more apprentices. Unicom comments.

Getting reform right

The FSB recently released a new report called Make or Break: Getting Apprenticeship Reform Right for Small Businesses. Within the paper, the lobbying organisation noted that 24% of its members already have an apprentice. The same number, FSB argued, have the means to take on as many as two million more apprentices, if they are provided with the appropriate incentives by the UK government.

Overcoming barriers

The report also revealed the key barriers preventing British SMEs from hiring more apprentices. This includes the expenses involved in training a new apprentice, which the FSB expects to cause a decline in the number of companies taking on apprentices in future. In order to reduce the costs of training new apprentices, FSB suggests, Whitehall should supply SMEs with a more generous incentive to take on more apprentices than those which are currently being considering.

Make-or-break moment

Commenting on the report’s findings, FSB Chairman Mike Cherry noted: “Smaller businesses are taking on more apprentices than ever before. What’s more, a quarter of our members say they are considering employing an apprentice in the future. This presents a huge opportunity and is great news for vocational training, which has become an increasingly attractive option for young people put off by the rising cost and uncertain returns of a university degree.”Going on, Cherry was quoted by SME Insider, a business news and advice publication, saying: “We are at a make-or-break moment. We need the Government to hit the right balance between incentives and support. While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many more continue to be worried about the time and personal commitment required.”

Cherry’s advice

Offering further advice for Whitehall, Cherry indicated that there are three areas ministers should focus on. He suggested that first, ministers supply high growth potential-SMEs with more targeted and localised information. Second, he argued that UK-based small companies require specific and practical guidance on hiring apprentices. Finally, Cherry said that it is vital the Whitehall provides a more generous support package to SMEs which hire apprentices.

Bridging skills gaps

It is becoming clear that UK small businesses are facing skills shortages. Last year, a poll of 893 UK SMEs found that 31% believe that their employees lack the required skills. However, the Guardian points out, despite these skills gaps, many SMEs are still not taking on apprentices.The biggest ‘disincentives’ to taking on apprentices named by the poll’s respondents included cost (49%), regulation (19%) and training (14%). Within this context, Cherry makes a valid point; Whitehall may wish to provide SMEs with more support in order to boost British apprenticeship figures.

How Often Do Employees Speak To Their Bosses In One Day?

How often do employees speak to their bosses in one day?

 

New research from Unicom has shown has shown that the average UK employee speaks to their boss 21 times every day.

Bosses need to communicate with their employees

Unicom is an energy and telecoms provider that is dedicated to providing first-rate service to over 100,000 SMEs across the UK.

As such we understand the importance of communication between employees and their bosses. Recently we surveyed the opinions of 1,000 SME decision makers and owners to determine the role telecommunications played in facilitating this vital communication.

Unicom survey reveals how often employees talk to their bosses

Our research found that on average, employees in the UK speak to their bosses on the phone 21 times every day. Meanwhile 20% of employees speak to their bosses 30 times in one day whilst 10% communicate with their superiors a staggering 60 times per day.

The research also showed when employees take calls. It showed that 31% of people are expected to take calls outside of working hours and after 7pm, 17% check their work phones whilst in the bathroom, almost 20% take a call from the boss whilst having dinner, 27% will accept a call during a film yet only 18% feel like they’re able to refuse a call from their superior outside of the office.

“Mobile communications have revolutionised the way we live and work.”

The Unicom research also showed that people expect to take calls from their boss outside of working hours. 29% said they are OK with this alteration to their work/life balance whilst 19% hate this change but accept it as a part of modern working life.

Unicom CEO Chris Earle commented on the research. Earle said: “Mobile communications have revolutionised the way we live and work and for many of us, striking the right balance is tricky.

“Finding ways to stay in the work loop and be present for friends and family is something we’re all working hard to do. Never the less, mobile phones are an essential business tool that no business can do without.  Unicom’s range of packages enables the small business owner to select the right solution for them and their employees however they choose to actively use their phones.”

 

Star Rewards Scheme

Star Rewards Scheme

 

Unicom employees have been celebrating a fantastic addition to their employee benefits package with the launch of the new Universal Rewards Scheme on August 7th.

Working in partnership with household names such as Marks & Spencer, Boots, Asda and Sainsbury’s we’re bringing our employees amazing benefits like 10% off all shopping at Marks & Spencer, 8 % off at Argos and PC World and 10% off at Boots and House of Fraser. We’ve even got 8% off all shopping at Jimmy Choo and Harrods for those who love a little luxury!

With access to over 1000 offers from major high street stores and online retailers already available to our employees via a dedicated online benefits hub and with new offers added every month we’re working hard to remain one of the UK’s leading employers of choice.

Since the introduction of the scheme just five weeks ago a massive £40,268 has already been spent by our 340 employees with nearly £4000 of savings made!

And these exciting rewards are in addition to the two pay rises we offer every year, quarterly performance bonuses and the chance to earn extra holidays.

Mark Draper, Project Development Manager said; “My team has been working on the introduction of staff benefits for some time and the Universal Rewards Scheme delivers benefits to staff at all levels of the business. With a bit of smart shopping we will each easily save £1,000 per year. I’ve already saved almost £300 when booking my summer holiday!”

When it comes to delivering industry leading employee benefits, Unicom remains at the cutting edge.

We are always on the lookout for exceptional new talent to help us continue to deliver the first class service our customers deserve. If you’re interested in joining the team and you think you’ve got what it takes just click here.

 

Monday, 8th August 2016

Community Support

Community Support

 

Small business telecoms and utilities provider, Unicom, has awarded three charities a total of £1500 through its Community Support Scheme.

The scheme allows community groups and local charities to apply for donations up to £500, providing much needed financial support for those who work to improve the quality of life for local residents.

One charity awarded was Sharnford Youth Club. The club is the only place in the local area open weekly and offers children a place to enjoy a range of indoor and outdoor activities. Unicom’s donation went towards the upkeep of the Club House.

Julie Edge, Chair of Sharnford Youth Club said “Being a small village community centre but with a membership of over 60 children, we are so grateful to Unicom for their support.  The grant money they have provided will go towards much needed window blinds and maintenance of the building in order to keep it looking its best for all our users. Thank you Unicom.”

The second charity awarded was Nantymoel Boys and Girls club, a youth club based in South Wales. The club used the donation to fund an exciting trip out and giving its members something to look forward to, as without the funding they would not be able to go.

Royal Oak and Baguley Boxing Club was the third charity to be awarded though the scheme. The club provides a place for young people in the area to go and gives them something to focus on, keeping them off the streets and out of crime. The funding was used to support a boxing competition they hosted on 8th November.

Charles Roberts who applied for the funding said “We wish to thank you so much for Unicom’s kind donation to our Boxing Club. The money that you generously donated made for a spectacular night for our young and aspiring boxers.”

Unicom’s CEO, Chris Earle, said “Our customers are the many thousands of small businesses around the country that depend on thriving local communities for their living.  And with more than 500 staff across 12 offices nationwide we understand the importance of giving something back to those communities.”

 

Monday, 18th June 2016