With cold drinks, bottled water and ice cream flowing out of your chillers over the first steamy weeks of summer you may well be thinking that investing in extra refrigerated cabinets was one of your better decisions.

In truth, it is. Consumers now expect to be able to buy their drinks chilled for immediate consumption and it's something larger supermarkets can't offer. But the problem is that the profit you're making on those extra sales is eroded by the cost of running the cabinets, and over the next few months this is going to get higher.

Your gas and electricity prices are linked to wholesale prices, as the suppliers buy up stocks well in advance. Energy advisor Energyhelpline.com says over the 10 weeks to June 21 the wholesale price of gas rose by 45%, while electricity prices rose by 30% over the same period. The effect of these rises won't be seen until later in the year, or if you're on a fixed tariff, until the end of your current term. But one thing that you can be certain of is that your energy provider will be passing their increased costs on to you.

Then there's VAT. Last month's Budget announcement of the 20% standard rate means, in effect, that your power bills will go up by 2.5% from next year and you'll have to take that increase in overheads into account when it comes to re-pricing your stock when the new rate is applied on January 4, 2010.

There's two routes to cutting energy bills: use less, or pay less for what you do use. The first involves ensuring the equipment you invest in is the most efficient on the market, even if the capital cost is a little higher. The Carbon Trust (carbontrust.co.uk) details low-consumption chillers on its Energy Technology List, as well as giving advice on selection and maintenance, and a helpful guide to the interest-free business loans and Enhanced Capital Allowance tax relief schemes it offers.

Paying less for your electricity is also very much in your own hands. If you are able to get out of your existing contract, now is a good time to snap up a fixed rate before the price rises kick in.

If you are months or even years from renewal, it's important to re-acquaint yourself with your supplier's requirements for telling them you want to end your contract. Most likely this will involve you contacting them in writing in a specified 'window' approximately 90 days before the end of the current term.

Miss this and you will be stuck with the same supplier at a rate dictated by them, for at least a further year. That means that your absolutely best bet for a better deal choosing the most appropriate rate from among the many competing suppliers, and making them work for your custom won't be open to you.
Pay less:
Dig out your gas and electricity contracts and check when they're due to end. Also check how much notice you are required to give. Write both dates in your diary 

Once the notice period begins, check your contract for the details you need to send in order to terminate your deal. Put your notice in writing you may want to send it recorded delivery 

Speak to your current supplier and tell them you won't be renewing. Chances are they will offer you a much better deal to keep your custom, so keep saying 'no' until you're happy with the new arrangement 

Contact other suppliers direct, or use a comparison service. Your choice of suppliers will vary according to your location, but don't be afraid to play one off against another.
Use less:
Minimise Use doors and night blinds and don't block air curtains. Throttle back chillers overnight, but don't turn them off 

Measure Only cool to optimal temperature. Every 1ºC saved could reduce your energy consumption by 2% 

Maintain Make sure your units and their compressors are regularly inspected and serviced 

Monitor Consider installing energy control systems, which have slashed consumption in larger stores.