A survey of 500 SMEs, conducted by business energy provider Opus Energy, found that a quarter do not have an energy contract and many are failing to take advantage of smart meters.
According to Opus Energy’s Business Boost Report 2014, 24 per cent of SMEs are being charged expensive out-of-contract rates for energy. Ofgem warns that rates in these circumstances tend to be around 80 per cent higher than the rates charged in a negotiated contract.
The report also reveals that 81 per cent of SMEs do not shop around for other suppliers when their contract is due for renewal.
A further 12 per cent admit to having never switched energy supplier before, despite a clear majority (78 per cent) expressing a desire to be supplied with renewable energy.
The report also found that many SMEs are failing to capitalise on the opportunity to measure their energy consumption through smart meters, despite more than half having had smart meters installed on their premises.
Nearly half of those with smart meters reported no change in their energy consumption, while around one in ten admitted to either not knowing how to use data from their meters, or how to obtain it.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) argues that smart meters – which will be rolled out to all businesses by 2020 – will help businesses to better manage energy use, save money and reduce their emissions.
Louise Boland, director of Opus Energy, said: "Many SMEs need help and support to understand the best contract options and how technologies such as smart meters can help.
"We'd urge companies to check whether they're being supplied on expensive out-of-contract rates, and to shop around for a great fixed-rate contract. This can only be a good thing for their bottom lines and long-term business success."
Ofgem has published guidance for businesses looking switch energy supplier, which is available here.