A few years ago there was a UK legal software vendor called Mountain (this was long before they were acquired by Advanced Legal) that was based in Grantham. When the company had outgrown its offices in the centre of the town, the moved to new premises on an industrial estate outside of Grantham, located on the side of a steep, windswept hill. When Mountain enjoyed its first winter in the new offices, they were pleasantly surprised to see that despite its location and the fact the winter was unusually harsh and snowy, the company’s outdoor car park remained free of ice and snow.
However while that was an unexpected bonus of the new offices, the enormous electricity bill that arrived the following spring was anything but welcome. What worried the management of Mountain was that they knew the bill was impossibly large, not least because they had moved into the new offices with a view to future expansion plans but at that time the office was still relatively under-occupied – and they kept a tight ship in terms not wasting electricity on unnecessary lighting and heating.
More digging into the mystery of the large power bills followed, including contacting the previous owners to see what their experience had been. Then the proverbial penny dropped!
The previous owners had been the regional electricity generating company and, having effectively unlimited free electricity at their disposal, they had installed underground heating beneath the car park to keep it ice free in winter.
So Mountain switched off the outdoor heating – and the size of the electricity bills immediately plummeted. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the temperatures plummet, the car park now suffers from the ice and snow just like all the other car parks on the estate.