Managing increasing utilities bills.

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Not your average framer
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Managing increasing utilities bills.

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 30 Jul, 2022 10:04 am

It's an unfortunate fact that utility bills have been increasing. Are there any smart ways of minimising one's exposure to increasing utility bills? All of my shops lighting are LED low energy lights, so not much scope there for reducing energy. I don't have any gas in my shop and I am so far exempt from paying business rates, but I am thinking that the government might not allow small businesses to remain exempt for ever. I am in the lowest business rating band already, so if they did start charging business rates again, that fact might be of some help. I am guessing maybe someone has already looked at what needs to be done to manage the coming increases in utility bills, so I am interested to hear any ways of dealing with such issues when things get worse. I can't say that I personally have been able to think of much my self, other than I think that this will be a double wham'y with cusomers also struggling with higher utility bills as well. Reducing price on some things to generate more sales, does not seem very likely to be of any worthwhile benefit, as for the reduced amount of possible sales you will be getting less income per item, which makes things potentially worse.

My understanding is that there historically tend to be winners and losers in past recessions and maybe this will also be true of this recession as well. So far much of my understanding suggests to me that the higher value end of the market should be a better place to be in a recession than chasing the bottom end of the market. Beyond that I don't have too many other answers. Smaller ready made frames, produced from left overs are something which I already do a bit of and it's mostly aimed at getting lower priced sales essentially from waste. It generates some cash, but it's not really big money. It's just a little bit of cash to help keep the lights on. I am thinking that if business is slow, I will probably have plenty of time on my hands and perhaps spending some of that otherwise unproductive time producing frames a other items from my waste, (of which I have stored up quite a bit), might be of some help to me. Has anyone else considered the comng higher utility bills and is there anything much we can do to manage the problems? I am fortunate to have a crasy amount of mouldings, include a reasonable amount of moderately useful Frinton mouldings "bargain bundle" special offer mouldings from a few years ago. But also some discontinued and discounted stock which I was buying to use a normal stock when I first got started.

I'm interested to hear what others have got planned,
Mark.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

Not your average framer
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Re: Managing increasing utilities bills.

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 04 Aug, 2022 9:11 am

I recently became aware through listening to the BBC radio news that the government price cap on energy supplies only applies to residential properties, but there is no price cap on businesses and industry. Unfortunately this means that those us with shops, are almost certainly experience higher energy prices than domestic premises. It is also possible that we may not get any advanced notice of when any price increases are due to arrive, so we may not get the oportunity to adjust our plans and price in time to allow for these. How do we know what level of price increases which we need to allow fo ahead of time? My shop has all LED lighting, whch was installed by the previous tenant. I have an old fashioned screw down heated press for dry mounting which consumes 2.5 kilowatts, However I am fortunate to have a maunal roller laminator which is about 4 feet wide, so maybe paying a little bit extra for my self adhesive mounting materials and not adding too the electricity might save me money. Truthfully at this time I have no idea how the relative costs of either option are likely to compare at this stage, or whether and potential cost savings are likely to be significant.

I can't say that I am using my woodworking machinery all the time, but items like my table saw, sliding compound mitre saw and surface planer are a bit heavey of power usage. My band saw uses much less power, but it does not rip cut pine as cleanly as my table saw and a lot of my stoch of mouldings are pine mouldings, so there are times when I usually find it advantageous to rip cut and clean up the sawn surfaces, using my surface power planer. I previously never gave this a thought. Cheap Pine mouldings and left over pieces of moulding, quite often will cut down in to slips liners and spacers, but I now need to think about my energy usuage. It is a definite fact that because I make plenty of creative use of slips, liners and spacers, that my customer sales benefit from this. I produce small smaller frames using left over pieces of moulding from my left overs box. Quite a lot of my regularly used mouldings, gut bought in quantity, so I have plenty of small pieces which match up nicely to produce small frames. As many other forum member will have guessed, normally there is not a great market for lots of smaller frames. You need to make them really special to create extra customer interest and this take time and experience to know how this works.

Spending too much un-necessary money on doing this is counter productive, it takes a bit of thought on how to do this. I produce little matching pairs of hinged together frames, beaten up "rustic" pine frames, small frames with distinctive slips and liners and small box frames. Where posible I like to sell frames as pairs, with a price advantage if the customer will buy a matching paip and things like this. I am still wondering how well this strategy will still be as the country gets hit by the coming recession. As you no doubt will have already guessed my slips, liners and spacers come from slicing up my left over moulding pieces using my woodworking machinery. Some of these are produced for factory finished mouldings, which have a nice bit of shape that will look good on a slip, liner or spacer. Really nice looking small items which a convenient price and are easy for the customer to carry home can be quite helpful to me. Unfortunately these are items which sometimes involve use of my woodworking machine and the energy use to run them. Like it, or not, I am now trying to increase my prices on these smaller items. I am thinking that my sales volumes from many items will come under pressure and wth less sales volumea small, but significant increase in prices will become necessary to help will my rising energy costs.

Is anyone else needing to do things to help with paying for the coming increasing energy costs?
Mark.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Managing increasing utilities bills.

Post by vintage frames » Thu 04 Aug, 2022 11:02 am

I think you need to re-focus the analytic side of your brain and think more realistically where your energy use is going to be.

You'll use far more kw/hrs making cups of tea than you ever will running your machines.

The big problem will come when you need to heat the shop.
How are you going to do that?
An electric heater?

If it were me, I'd be feeding most of that surplus moulding into a small wood-burner.
Maybe work out how much more cost effective that is.
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Not your average framer
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Re: Managing increasing utilities bills.

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 04 Aug, 2022 12:19 pm

Hi Dermt,

I wood love to have a wood burner, but it is prohibited by the conditions of my lease, in past years, I have placed two electric heaters next to each other, one being a fan heater and the other being an electric radiator. The electric radiator is much more economical in it's use of electricity, but it takes ages to heat up the shop. The fan heater is much less economical in using electricity, but it heates up the shop a lot more quickly. I have experimented with both thermostat settings and taped the thermostat setting knobs into the positions that work best. As a result the fan heater heats up the shop to an acceptable level and the heat from the electric radiator cause the thermostat in the fan heater to turn off the fan heater. In this way I get the best of both worlds. I also were some nice warm clothes while in the shop during the winter, to avoid getting too dry a thirsty with too much heat. I am a type 2 diabetic and get much to easily get quite dehydrated breathing hot dry air. Some years in the past have been a real struggle in terms of business levels and the money that I got from items made up from left overs were very helpful.

One year, when there was a foot and mouth outbreak was really terrible for business and how we managed to pay our bills was very hard in deed. I bought larger old framed pictures at a general auctions in our town to pull apart and make several smaller frames to sell in the shop window, as I did not want to place orders for many mouldings from suppliers. About four times a year, I bought enough bargain bundles from Frinton moulding to qualfy for their carriage paid order value. I can't remember any other time when we were so skint. It was terrible! This was when I learnt to try and turn my waste into something saleable. Years later, the credit crunch of 2008 cane along and the town's shops are still feeling it's effects. Many of town's residents are pensioners and had invested their saving, so that they could live off the interest, but the huge drop in interest rates reduced many of the town's residents incomes and the interest rates have not noticeably recovered since. Our once busy and reasonably properous town is now much less so.

There still are times today when my frames produced from odds and ends have saved the day during times which are a bit slow for business, but I and my shop are still here! I like to think that somebody up there is looking after me!
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

Not your average framer
Posts: 12075
Joined: Sat 25 Mar, 2006 8:40 pm
Location: Devon, U.K.
Organisation: The Dartmoor Gallery
Interests: Lost causes, saving and restoring old things, learning something every day
Location: Glorious Devon

Re: Managing increasing utilities bills.

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 04 Aug, 2022 12:28 pm

I don't easily get worried, but the coming increases in utility bills and not knowing how much this will increase my bills is a bit difficult to know what I am up against. Not knowing what to expect, is not very helpful.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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