What does BHESCo stand for & what is it?

Brighton and Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo) is a social enterprise, formed for the benefit of our members who are our customers.  We offer energy services to the community of Brighton and Hove, using our technological expertise to deliver energy related services. These include providing advice and information on energy efficiency, energy savings, utilities contracts and energy generation from renewable sources such as solar, wind, CHP and biomass. These services help reduce fuel poverty, over expenditure on fuel bills and encourage sustainable, renewable energy generation on a community level.

What Are Co-operative Shares?

By purchasing shares, you become a member of our consumer co-operative that is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. We uphold the co-operative principles, which means that each member gets one vote, regardless of the number of shares you own. This creates an equitable business where no one person or entity has more influence than another, based on their financial holdings.

Our members have a say in the governance of our energy savings co-operative. Shares are non-transferable, meaning that they cannot be sold to anyone else. Members can withdraw their investment (plus any interest due) at certain times during each year starting after the third year of your investment and in subsequent years. For more information about our Co-operative and our governance – download our rules here.

Why is BHESCo needed?

Before the energy market was liberalised in 2003, there were 13 energy suppliers.  Now there are only six major suppliers serving 99% of us. This has reduced competitiveness in the market and increased prices. BHESCo has been founded to highlight to the community of Brighton and Hove that there is an alternative to this, reducing over expenditure on fuel across the city and making homes in the city more energy efficient. The alternatives include switching supplier to gain a better rate, making your home more energy efficient and supporting community energy projects, decreasing your dependence on fossil fuels and the Big Six companies. These services make up our 3 tier model.

Unfortunately there are barriers to these alternatives, such as being afraid to switch supplier, but BHESCo can provide advice and help to overcome such barriers.

What is ‘Pay As You Save’?

  • We prepare an energy survey of your property, advising how you can reduce your fuel bills and how much it would cost to install the suggested energy saving measures, including renewable generation.
  • We prepare an approximate quote of how much your fuel bills will be reduced by installing the initiatives.
  • You decide what measures you would like installed, and we will project manage the installation for you.
  • After the new measures are installed, BHESCo will continue to monitor your energy bills to ensure the measures are performing and you are receiving the energy savings anticipated.
  • You pay us for the cost of the work over time, at a rate that is equal to or less than the savings that you are enjoying.
  • We charge you just 3% interest.
  • You get a warm house, use less energy, and pay less for the energy you do use.

The saving is made as we charge a cheaper price per kilowatt (kW) on the energy from the generation, if a renewable source is installed. The interest we charge is also reinvested in energy saving improvements and renewable energy micro-generation in the homes and businesses of our customers. This helps them save money now and into the future by creating a sustainable, long term solution.

What services does BHESCo offer?

Visit the Services page of our website to find out what BHESCo can do for you. If you have further questions please see our FAQs or Contact Us to find out more.

I thought you were an energy supplier?

Currently BHESCo is not an energy supplier but we are aspiring to be one, and one that supplies renewable, clean energy from local projects. As we grow we will make this aspiration a reality.

Who can be a BHESCo customer?

Communities, families and SME’s in the Brighton & Hove area can benefit from the services and advice offered by BHESCo. We do focus on helping those who are vulnerable in the community, in fuel poverty and struggling to pay their fuel bills. We love to hear from anyone with ideas, so if you would like to work with us please get in touch.

I don’t live in Brighton or Hove – can I join BHESCo?

As we are creating a local model to benefit Brighton & Hove, we unfortunately cannot take customers from outside Sussex.

I’m currently with a green energy supplier – why should I join BHESCo?

That’s great – you’re already committed to reducing your impact on the environment by using a renewable energy source. There are a few reasons why you should think about joining BHESCo & benefitting from our services:

  • Some of the green energy deals aren’t all that green when you look into them.  It may be that a small part of their energy generation capacity is really green. Take a look at the percentage of generation from renewable sources and see if the energy you’re paying for really is green. If it’s not you could switch to Ecotricity.
  • You’ll save money.  Some of the green energy tariffs are getting quite expensive, and not everyone can afford to pay a premium.  By joining BHESCo, you can be green, invest in your community and reduce your energy costs.
  • We’re not just green, we’re local too.  All our profits are reinvested in Brighton and Hove – if you live here, by joining BHESCo you can do your bit for your community too.

What is a smart meter and how can I get one?

A smart meter is a metering device that records energy usage in intervals of an hour or less and sends that information back to the energy supplier for monitoring and billing purposes. Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters can gather data for remote reporting. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from traditional automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communications with the meter.

If you become a BHESCo customer you will receive a free smart meter so you can see how much energy they’re using.  It’s a great way to work out which appliances in your home or business use the most energy and it will help you reduce your energy usage. BHESCo also uses the information from the smart meter to proactively help you manage your energy usage and costs over time.  If we notice that you are consuming more energy than we expected, we work with you to help you lower your bills, now and forever.

I’ve got an old house and my fuel bills are very high. I heard that BHESCo will upgrade my heating system and draught-proof my house?

That’s right.  We don’t want to just charge you less, we want you to be able to use less energy, and still be warm and cosy in your home.

 

What, you’ll give me a free boiler? This sounds too good to be true – what’s the catch?

We’ll finance a new boiler for you, but you’ll have to pay for it over time – we can’t just give it to you.  This is the Pay As You Save model.

These energy efficiency improvements – isn’t this exactly the same as the Green Deal?

It’s similar, but we think our way of doing it is better than the Green Deal because:

  • It works out cheaper for you – the Green Deal charges 6.95% interest, and we charge just 3%
  • The Green Deal is only available through big companies like B&Q and Tesco’s – BHESCo is a great local company; a not for profit, social enterprise investing back into your community.

Visit the Government’s website to find out more about the Green Deal.

How can BHESCo charge only 3% interest while the Government is charging us 6.95%?

BHESCo is a social enterprise, meaning we’re a business with a purpose beyond just making money for the shareholders.  BHESCo is a cooperative, which means as a customer, you can become a member of the company, giving you a say in our governance.  Our management consists of highly qualified professionals who would rather make a difference than a profit.  Besides, the companies that are making money now on energy – the big six, make lots of profits and then distribute them to their shareholders.  We distribute the profits back to the customer by investing in their energy security. Social enterprises businesses do good things to make the world a better place. BHESCo’s social purpose is to reduce the cost of energy for the community of Brighton and Hove, increase the amount of green electricity generated in the city, and reduce our carbon emissions by making our customer’s properties more energy efficient. This is why are interest rate is lower, because we don’t create profits for our shareholders but reinvest it for the benefit of the community.

Can you put a wind turbine in my garden?

Maybe. Call us to do a free energy assessment of your property and we will prepare an energy plan with recommendations describing the best energy saving measures and energy generation options suitable for your property.  Some people have a house where they’d be able to generate lots of electricity from a wind turbine or solar panels, and we’d be happy to fit them for you and buy the surplus electricity from you.  But it depends on your property and what’s suitable for you.  Because we are making the investment on your behalf, we will only invest in measures that deliver value for money.  These include a wind turbine if wind speeds on your property justify the investment – there’s no sense in installing a wind turbine at a location where it won’t work efficiently.

I’m a big fan of Brighton Energy Co-op – aren’t you competing with them?

BHESCo’s business model is very different from Brighton Energy Co-operative (BEC). They are focusing on larger scale localised generation. We are co-members of the community energy south network with BEC, we are working together to make the community energy model work.

I know someone who had loft insulation installed in their home and then had lots of moisture formation on the beams in the loft. How can I be sure you know what you’re doing?

BHESCo is making the investment in their customer’s properties.  These investments are owned by BHESCo until the customer pays them off, then the title transfers to the customer. BHESCo engages qualified and certified professionals to carry out all our work.  We verify all of the installations at our customer’s sites to ensure that work is carried out correctly. The more the customer saves, the more we earn and the more we can reinvest back into the community.  We rely on satisfied customers so that we can continue growing our business.

If the retrofit and renewable energy system costs are not attached to the property, what happens if I sell my property?

The energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems that we install add value to your property by improving your EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating.  This improved rating translates to a higher selling price for your property.  When you sell the property, the pay as you save contract is paid off by applying the net present value of that contract – i.e., today’s value of the pay as you save contract calculated to the payback period.  This cash payment is valuable already, we don’t need to make excessive profits from the sensibility of our scheme.

If I rent my property, can I still get a free energy assessment?

Yes, we can speak to your landlord on your behalf, providing the economic sensibility of the energy plan that we complete for your property.  We will agree with your landlord the details of the project to be carried out, ensuring that you can live in more thermal comfort.

Copyright 2017 BHESCo