Despite temperatures outside suggesting otherwise (and I've just come back from Greece, so I am even colder!) winter hasn't actually started yet, however we are in the winter season for purchasing energy.

You could ask anyone what the typical energy related headlines are at this time of year, I can guarantee that it would all be "energy prices rocketing" and numerous ones along those lines. The most recent article I have seen is one that has that very line in the headline, "Energy chief warns big freeze could send prices rocketing".

A pretty bold statement and one that would send many customers into a bit of a frenzy, but do winter energy prices have to be that bad for businesses? The answer in short, is no.

One of the main ways to avoid this is to plan ahead with your contracts. At amber energy we track out clients portfolios to ensure that we are purchasing their energy on the best day for their strategy. Securing your energy contracts in this way spreads the cost of the winter period throughout your contract so you are on the same rates throughout the year.

Some of our clients are on pass through contracts which is the right contract for their energy strategy. Your energy bill is made up of many different components where the largest proportional cost is the actual energy component, this is around 50% of the overall bill. The rest of this charge is made up of a variety of charges, some listed on your bill and some not.

The charges include: 1. Transmission & Distribution Networks 2. Meter Operator Charges 3. Pooling & Settlement charges 4. Data Collector charges 5. Data Aggregator charges 6. Renewable obligation 7. Feed in Tariff (not all of these may apply to your bill)

With a passthrough contract at amber energy you are then alerted to Triads. The Triad season is a four month winter period, during which the National Grid looks back to find the three half-hour periods where electricity demand across the UK is the highest.

When these periods have been identified the National Grid looks at the amount of electricity used in each period by each local network operator and calculates each operator's average peak demand for that winter.

National Grid then uses this information to set a ?capacity charge? (also sometimes known as an ?availability charge?) for each local electricity network operator across the UK. This charge covers National Grid?s costs in ensuring the availability of this peak amount of electricity to the operator.

The local electricity network operators then charge a capacity charge to each electricity supplier (E.ON, npower etc.) they supply electricity to. These suppliers then recover this charge from their customers, by charging extra for the electricity used during a Triad period.

If you are a particularly high electricity consumer (using several £100,000s? worth of electricity each year), you may be charged a higher rate than usual for the electricity you used during a Triad period, as a separate item on your bill. You may even be invoiced specifically for Triads.

At amber energy we provide a Triad alert system where we inform our clients on a daily basis the likely hood of a Triad being called that day. This gives our clients chance to reduce their energy consumption that day and achieve lower energy prices all year round.

For more information about Triads please email