Turning Business Electricity into Thermal Pleasure'

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Even in hard times, this is the stage of the year when retailers literally throw caution to the wind, no matter how Arctic it is, opening their doors - wide open in most cases - and crank up the heating. Throw extra lights into the equation and extended opening hours, and you have exceptionally heavy business electricity consumption for the entire Christmas season. Little surprise then why high street retailers make up one the busiest industry sectors when it comes to switching business electricity and business gas contracts.

However there's a little known fact about turning up the heat in a bid to attract shoppers. According to Professor Ken Parsons, who heads up Loughborough University's Human Thermal Environments Laboratory, it's all to do with ‘Thermal Pleasure'. Here's what he told us when we asked for his take on why shops are so hot:

"Why do the shops maintain high temperatures in the winter? It may be because the workers wish to wear light fashionable clothing. It may also be to provide what is called ‘thermal pleasure' to customers. Thermal pleasure is a transient phenomenon felt when a person moves into a cold environment when too hot or into a warm environment when too cold. In the winter the first impression for the shopper who may be generally cold or have cold skin on the hands and face for example, will be the pleasure of moving to a warm and hence welcoming environment. After twenty minutes or so, this affect will wear off and unless clothing is reduced the customer may well become unpleasantly hot and even sticky. Moving out into the cold will then be a pleasure."

So to find out for ourselves which retailers are prepared to offer their customers the most Thermal Pleasure, we went shopping armed not with wallets but with thermometers. We took our heat probes to every single shop along on London's Oxford Street and discovered that they were all, without exception, warmer than the ideal ambient shopping temperature of 18°C as recommended by the Chartered Institute for Building Services Engineers. The average temperature was 23.6°C, with the hottest a sweltering 27.2°C recorded in TopShop's flagship 90,000sq ft store at Oxford Circus. Just six shops out of more than 100 had their doors closed. No wonder London is always two degrees warmer than everywhere else in the UK on the weather maps.

But not everyone finds pleasure in such public displays of heavy energy consumption. In Paris, the aptly-named City of Lights, environmentalist activists have hit on a way to turn off what they see as a complete waste of business electricity. ‘Le Clan du Neon' patrol the streets at night armed with broomsticks just long enough to reach to external fire switches (required by law) above shopfronts that cut out the electrical supply to the lighting displays. Clan members claim that 10 gigawatt hours of electricity are consumed each year in illuminating closed shops. Splinter groups have also sprung up in Normandy, Bordeaux, Dordogne and the Alps but it is not known whether the Clan has any counterparts in the UK. However, if you notice window-shoppers wandering up and down your High Street discretely closing doors, you'll know why.

Cutting down on unnecessary waste and getting on the right energy contracts go hand-in-hand for any business, whatever their sector. Switching business energy suppliers can reduce your bill by as much as 50% and taking energy efficiency measures can bring down your annual bill by a further 10%-30%. For those in any doubt on how to go about it or just looking for an easy solution, Make It Cheaper offers a service which checks current contracts on the customer's behalf, logs renewal dates and - during the notice window - will contact customers with the best available rates in the market. If wishing to switch, Make It Cheaper will then arrange new contracts and email confirmation to the customer. This service is free to use with Make It Cheaper earning a small fee from suppliers for introducing new customers. This fee, however, never gets in the way of its impartiality.

Jonathan Elliott is Managing Director of Make It Cheaper, the UK's leading independent price comparison and switching service for business electricity & business gas as well as a range of products including: insurance and telecoms.

For interviews, images or comments contact:
Jonathan Elliott
Marketing Manager
0800 970 0225

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