It's usually possible to pre-arrange your next business gas contract up to four months prior to your existing deal expiring, although many businesses don't take advantage of the opportunity to do so.

In addition, many UK gas suppliers for businesses demand advanced notice of your intent to switch supplier and/or tariff - this can be up to 90 days beforehand! Consequently it always pays to start looking for your next contract before your current one ends if you want to get the best business gas tariff.

Remember, business energy contracts are invariably fixed and tie you in for their duration but this doesn't always mean that the price you pay for unit will be fixed - this can fluctuate greatly. So in order to find the cheapest business gas prices energy companies can offer, take into account your organisation's energy needs and choose a tariff to match your current and predicted usage.

You'll need to consider:

1. The supplier's network

Some energy suppliers offer their cheapest commercial gas prices to specific region(s) throughout the UK; others can't cater for some regions at all. Check which companies operate in your area and exclude any which can't.

2.The length of the contract

Decide what length of contract would suite your business. For example, if you are planning to expand at some point in the future it might be worthwhile opting for a shorter term contract.

Expansion could mean increased gas consumption, moving premises, or even the addition of new property to your existing locations. A short contract should ensure you aren't tied-in to restrictive terms if/when that growth comes about.

On the other hand, some long term contracts are eligible for discounted rates compared to shorter contracts, so you should carefully assess your business' plans and the terms of any contract you're considering to make sure it suits.

3. How business gas prices are set

Consider whether you're willing to pay a standing charge on your gas consumption; and if so, how much. Standing charges are a set fee charged per day (e.g. 50p) regardless of how much energy you use, however contracts that apply them are usually eligible for discounted per unit gas prices.

You'll need to calculate whether any per unit saving will still save you money once the standing charge and your consumption are taken into account.

4. How will you manage your account?

Being able to access and manage your account effectively is just as important as securing cheap business gas rates otherwise you may unwittingly end up paying more. Compare the service each supplier can offer, including their metering, billing and payment options and choose the option that you prefer.

5. Availability

Some UK business gas suppliers restrict the availability of their business gas tariffs to companies over (or under) a certain size, usually based on energy consumption. Depending on the supplier you may also be given access to 'perks' like a dedicated energy consultant to help you cut waste, while others provide half-hourly or smart meters to produce real time data.

Finally, make sure to check the terms and conditions attached to each provider's service, such as any penalties or increased charges for use at certain times of day.

Get as many business gas supply quotes as possible

Once you've established your company's energy needs (and which suppliers can meet them), approach each supplier in turn to get a tailored business gas quote.

If you get quotes from as many providers as possible and undertake a thorough business gas prices comparison, you can find the tariff that offers your company the best combination of prices, service and flexibility.