Energy companies reviewed: Best and worst energy companies
Read on to find out what thousands of energy customers think of their suppliers. You can use our research to help you choose the best energy company for your needs, and avoid the worst.
As well as rating the 'big six' energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power - every year we also investigate smaller companies including Extra Energy, First Utility, Ovo Energy and GB Energy, finding out from customers what they really think of the service they receive.
This year, smaller supplier Ovo Energy came out on top. While big firm Npower sits at the bottom.
If you're unhappy with your energy company, vote with your feet. Use Which? Switch to compare energy prices and companies to find the best deal for you.
Best and worst energy companies
In October 2015 we asked more than 8,902 energy customers to rate their energy suppliers on their customer service, the way they deal with complaints, value for money, accuracy and clarity of bills and whether they feel the energy company helps them to save money. You can see the full results of our survey in the table, below. Click the links if you want to find out more about individual energy companies.
Ovo Energy and Flow Energy are our Which? Recommended Providers for 2016. This is because Ovo and Flow passed all of our thorough assessments on policy, practices and pricing (scroll down past our table, to find out more).
|Energy companies rated|
|Logo||Company||Customer service||Value for money||Bills (accuracy and clarity)||Complaints||Helping you to save energy||Customer Score|
|England, Scotland and Wales|
|7|| ||Flow Energy||-||-||73%|
|8|| ||Marks and Spencer Energy||-||69%|
|9||GB Energy Supply||-||-||-||66%|
|10|| ||First Utility||63%|
|11||Green Star Energy||-||-||-||-||-||61%|
|=|| ||Spark Energy||-||58%|
|14|| ||EDF Energy||55%|
|15|| ||British Gas||54%|
|=|| ||Sainsbury's Energy||53%|
|19|| ||Extra Energy||47%|
|20|| ||The Co-operative Energy||45%|
|21|| ||Scottish Power||44%|
|1|| ||Budget Energy||-||-||-||-||65%|
|2|| ||Power NI||55%|
|3|| ||SSE Airtricity||49%|
Which? Recommended Providers in red.
The Customer Score combines customers’ overall satisfaction with their likelihood to recommend, and is not directly linked to the star ratings
Overall averages - 54% for both GB and NI, weighted for market share of each energy company
‘Helping you save energy’ - a rating of how the supplier helps you to save energy
‘Complaints’ - a rating of how well respondents felt the company was dealing with their complaints.
(-) - too few responses to give a rating
In bold - scores over 70% for customer satisfaction score and over average for policy score and customer experience assessment score
Sample sizes: Ovo Energy (244), Good Energy (43), Ecotricity (56), Ebico (59), Utility Warehouse (129), Utilita (54), Flow Energy (43), Marks and Spencer Energy (63), GB Energy Supply (36), First Utility (277), Green Star Energy (31), iSupplyEnergy (32), Spark Energy (34), EDF Energy (875), British Gas (2,296), Eon (1,128), Sainsbury's Energy (153), SSE (1,062), Extra Energy (106), The Cooperative Energy (158), Scottish Power (846), Npower (783), Budget Energy (31), SSE Airtricity (83), Power NI (135)
Interpreting the energy survey results
Energy companies are ordered in the above table based on their customer score. The full survey table also shows how the companies scored on our other criteria. So, for example, if great customer service is important to you, our table reveals each company's customer service rating - the more stars, the better.
In our customer satisfaction survey, we asked customers to rate their energy company based on customer service, value for money, clarity and accuracy of bills and how it deals with complaints. We then asked how satisfied they were overall, and whether they would recommend their energy company to a friend – this then forms the customer satisfaction score.
We also investigated out how long it took, on average, for a human being to answer the customer service and sales lines of each company.
Which? review of energy companies
In addition to the satisfaction survey results, Which? carried out a comprehensive analysis of energy companies' practices, policies and prices. We awarded Which? Recommended Provider status to the best performing companies.
To be rated as Which? Recommended Provider, an energy supplier needs to:
1. Be in the top group of companies rated the highest by their customers.
2. Have no fines or sanctions brought against them by regulatory bodies, such as Ofgem and the Advertising Standards Authority, in the past year.
3. Follow policies that we think are in the best interest of the consumer. We scored energy companies against a set of 32 criteria that cover the main elements of the consumer journey including: complaints processes, billing, customer service and account management.
4. Be better than average on call waiting times to their customer service and sales lines.
5. Pass our final price analysis. They need to have a variable tariff in the cheapest part of the market for low, medium and high users for the average user across Great Britain. They also cannot have a variable tariff in the most expensive band.
Energy company customer service
After price, customer service is the most important factor for consumers when choosing an energy supplier. Our survey shows how customers rate their energy provider on customer service.
We also carry out our own research, checking how long it takes to get through to the energy companies on the phone.
In total, energy companies' customer service departments are contacted an astounding 70 million times a year, and 90% of these are phone calls. So we conducted four snapshot investigations, six months apart, into how long customers have to wait to have their phone calls answered by a human being when they ring customer services.
In our latest investigation in September and October 2015 we made 528 calls to 22 energy suppliers. We called the supplier's customer service and sales numbers.
But answering the phone quickly is not impossible. Ebico has managed to answer calls in less than 30 seconds on average in all of our four mystery shopping investigations so far. To see the full results of our investigation, read our story on energy company call waiting times.
When using our price comparison site, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest energy deal, it's important to consider customer service. A cheap deal could end up costing you more if you're constantly on the phone to your supplier.
So take a look at our full reviews of each energy company to see how they fared in our surveys and investigations - scroll back up to the table and click on the companies' links.