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Care home: Heat and light

You will be billed every quarter for all the electricity and gas - or heating oil - you have used in the business. Your utility bills will be sent to your premises. If you do not use mains gas and heat the premises using oil, coal or LPG gas, you will normally be invoiced by your supplier after each delivery.

Until you have been trading for a few months you will not know exactly how much energy the business will use. However, you could contact energy suppliers who may be able to give you an idea of likely consumption, based on the nature of your business, the area of your premises and the type of equipment that you will be using. You can adjust your estimated figures once you have been in business for a few months.

Be aware that your heating costs are likely to be considerable, as older people and those in poor health need to be kept warm at all times. If your premises is an old building then this is likely to push your costs up even higher, although there are steps you can take such as insulating walls and lofts that can reduce energy consumption.

It's worth shopping around the different energy companies to get the best deal for your business, particularly if you're going to be a heavy energy user.

Energy prices are high and seem very likely to keep on rising steeply in future, so it makes good sense to include efficiency measures wherever possible when you fit out and equip your care home - particularly if you're building from scratch or carrying out major conversion work. Effective insulation and draft proofing can pay particularly big dividends.