At British Gas, we lead the industry in smart metering, energy efficiency, help for the vulnerable and simple, fair and transparent pricing.
Driving service excellence is a core priority and our innovative products and digital platforms enable us to offer customers convenience as well as helping them to reduce their consumption and save money.
British Gas is the UK’s leading energy supplier, serving around 11 million homes, as well as providing energy to nearly one million UK business supply points. Affordability is a key concern for both residential and business customers and our extensive coverage is both a strength and a responsibility. Our challenge in 2014, as an energy industry, is to innovate to drive growth and service excellence while continuing to work hard to win our customers’ trust. We are working with our customers to change British Gas for the better.
In the competitive market for energy supply it is important to focus on delivering high levels of customer service. We are leading the industry in the use of digital platforms, reducing our own costs and allowing customers to engage with us when and where they want.
British Gas was awarded ‘best e-commerce utility supplier’ at the 2013 e-commerce awards for excellence. Customer downloads of our top-rated mobile app were up 37% in 2013, and over a million customers have downloaded it since launch. 1.2 million customers have booked their annual service or boiler breakdown online and nearly 40% of bills are now sent electronically.
As well as supplying energy, our UK energy services business also offers a comprehensive range of services including boiler installation, servicing of electrical systems, appliances, plumbing and drains, all underpinned by a nationwide network of over 10,000 engineers, six engineering academies and a state-of-the-art nationwide distribution centre.
Our insurance-based products include high quality boiler cover, and boiler repair should anything go wrong, and in 2013 we launched packages tailored specifically for landlords and tenants. We also launched British Gas branded home insurance in partnership with AXA and entered into a new partnership agreement with Nationwide’s buy-to-let mortgage arm.
As part of our commitment to listen to customers, our independent Customer Board – now in its third year – has continued to challenge and advise on a range of services and product topics.
The British Gas Customer Board enables us to gain valuable insight from customers on key strategic and policy decisions. Last year, the Board, made up of nine customer representatives and chaired by Ann Robinson, Head of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, covered items such as customer service, simplifying the bill and smart meter roll-out.
We fully support the principles introduced in 2013 by the UK energy regulator, Ofgem, to make the UK energy market simpler, clearer and fairer, and we have established a Customer Fairness Committee, to help us implement these standards and ensure fairness in everything we do for customers. The Committee includes two external members, independent of Centrica and British Gas, so that we are externally challenged.
To simplify our tariffs we have;
We also introduced our simplest ever bill:
On each bill we provide clear information on the discounts available, and the advantages of signing up, for example, to a dual fuel tariff, or the savings that can be made by paying by direct debit.
In 2013, we led the way with our unique ‘Tariff Check’, making it easier for our customers to ensure they are on the best British Gas tariff for them.
British Gas is also committed to our business customers. For businesses who take both their gas as well as their electricity from British Gas, we have launched the Business Energy Insight (BEI) service, which offers consultations on how small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can take better control of their energy expenditure; how their bills are calculated; how and why business energy rates change and, the type of business energy contracts and discounts available.
We also became the first energy supplier to end the auto-rollover of contracts at renewal, this decision ensures our customers have a transparent choice of products and is part of British Gas' commitment to honesty and transparency.
Helping customers reduce and manage their energy use through energy efficiency measures and smart technology enables them to cut their energy costs. This is particularly important for customers who are most at risk from rising prices. We aim to ensure that even the most vulnerable are able to heat and power their homes. We provide financial assistance, debt advice and energy efficiency measures.
We do this through mandatory programmes such as the UK Government's Warm Home Discount and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), as well as through the British Gas Energy Trust and local partnerships such as our five-year Better Homes for Britain partnership with Shelter where we are working to improve the condition of one million private rented homes.
We spend more than anyone else to support vulnerable customers:
We estimate that on average, £1 in every £4 spent on heating bills in the UK is wasted due to poor insulation. We strongly support the aims of the ECO programme, which is providing energy efficiency measures such as insulation to transform homes and communities across the UK.
Over the past five years, British Gas has insulated more than three million customer homes, and we will spend over £1 billion under the Government's ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme which, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimate, will enable one million households to install one or more energy efficiency measures by March 2015.
We are leading the way in developing smart and connected home solutions to give customers greater visibility and control over their energy usage.
We have now installed over 1.3 million smart meters for homes and businesses in the UK, with over 800,000 of these for residential customers, and in 2014 we expect to be the first company to install smart meters for residential prepayment customers.
Smart meters work by sending meter readings direct to the energy supplier and, for residential customers, come with an in-home 'smart energy monitor' to show them how much energy is being used and how much it's costing in real-time, putting an end to estimated billing.
Transforming the way customers think about and use energy can help them reduce their energy use by as much as 5%, which could save up to £65 on an annual dual-fuel bill. Over at our North American division, Direct Energy, smart meter customers are already using 8% less energy.
In 2013, we launched ‘Me’ (Mobile Energy), which is a new energy product capable of being delivered entirely via mobile devices and aimed at private tenants.
We also launched Hive Active Heating™, our rebranded Remote Heating Control proposition, which allows customers to control their heating and hot water remotely via their smart phone, tablet or online.
For non-smart meter customers, we offer EnergySmart™. A free online service that can be used with any British Gas variable or fixed tariff, EnergySmart™ customers get accurate monthly bills straight to their inbox each month by giving monthly meter readings online, by iPhone/Android App or SMS.
British Gas is focused on developing new technologies and exploring innovations in the energy market that will make our customers lives easier. We believe that new technologies can play a significant role in decarbonising energy generation and we are supporting research into their use.
British Gas is one of the four lead partners in the Customer Led Network Revolution (CLNR), the UK's biggest smart grid project.
British Gas is also involved in the market expansion of electric vehicles. As more manufacturers offer a range of electric cars and vans, British Gas is supporting the emergence of electric vehicles and is the preferred supplier of home and work charging stations for for Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen, Toyota, Vauxhall, Mitsubishi, Volvo and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions. British Gas is currently piloting Nissan e-NV200 vans as we move towards our goal of having at least 10% of our 13,000 home service van fleet running on electricity by 2015. British Gas was also the first supplier to announce the detail of a tariff specifically designed for electric car owners which will see drivers pay as little as 1.25p a mile to fuel their car*.
* British Gas calculations based on annual cost of fuel for 10000 miles using average UK standard Economy 7 night rate, 100 mile charge range, 95% charging efficiency. The LEAF will cost 1.25p per mile – so £125 for the year; New Nissan LEAF can travel up to 124 miles per full charge, based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Managing Director, International Downstream
Chris was appointed to the Board on 1 July 2009. Chris submitted his resignation in May 2014 and is subject to 12 months' notice.
Skills and experience: Chris brings extensive management expertise, with particular strengths in supply businesses and the US energy market. Prior to his appointment as Managing Director, International Downstream, Chris was Managing Director, North America from July 2009, Managing Director, British Gas Services from June 2005 and Managing Director, British Gas Business from January 2002. He joined Centrica in November 2001, following the acquisition of One Tel where he was the Managing Director of Europe. Previously, he worked for Cable & Wireless and also spent seven years in the army with the Royal Artillery.
External appointments: None.
Our website britishgas.co.uk allows customers to manage their bills, protect their homes, obtain advice on home improvement and help when moving home.