Best and worst energy companies
By Sarah Ingrams
Best and worst energy companies
Find out what thousands of energy customers think of their suppliers. Use our research to choose the best energy company for you.
Our biggest-ever UK energy satisfaction survey covers 23 suppliers in Great Britain and six in Northern Ireland, and captures the experiences of nearly 9,000 energy customers. This gives you the most comprehensive view of energy suppliers yet – and a unique guide to choosing the very best companies and avoiding the worst.
As well as rating the 'big six' energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power - we also investigate smaller companies. This includes Extra Energy, First Utility, Ovo Energy and The Co-operative Energy. Their customers tell us what they really think of the service they receive, so you can use our results to find out which firm is best for you.
This year, smaller supplier Ovo Energy came out on top for the second year running. Big firm Npower sits at the bottom again. Keep reading to discover the best and worst energy suppliers.
If you live in Northern Ireland, we have reviews of every energy firm - including Power NI and SSE Aitricity. To find out which are the best and worst energy companies in Northern Ireland according to their customers, head to Northern Ireland electricity and gas firms.
Want to know which energy companies have the best tariffs? It's quick and easy to switch energy supplier with Which? Switch, our impartial free switching site. See how much money you can save - find the cheapest energy deal.
Best and worst energy companies
We asked 8,917 energy customers to rate their energy suppliers on their customer service and how they deal with complaints, value for money, the 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 to find out more about individual energy companies.
There are no Which? Recommended Providers this year. This is because no energy companies managed to pass all of our tough criteria, including high customer satisfaction, and policies in the consumer’s interest. Scroll down to find out how energy firms qualify to become Which? Recommended Providers.
|Energy companies rated|
|Company||Customer service||Value for money||Bills (accuracy and clarity)||Helping you to save energy||Customer score|
|England, Scotland and Wales|
The Customer Score combines customers’ overall satisfaction with their likelihood to recommend, and is not directly linked to the star ratings.
Overall average customer score: 56%. This is weighted for the market share of each energy company.
(-) indicates too few responses to give a rating.
In bold - scores over 70% for customer satisfaction score and over average for policy score and combined call waiting and complaint score.
Sample sizes: Ovo Energy (201), PFP Energy (31), Ebico (40), Flow Energy (40), Utility Warehouse (113), Ecotricity (41), Utilita (50), iSupplyEnergy (41), Green Star Energy (40), Good Energy (41), First Utility (250), Sainsbury's Energy (150), Spark Energy (37), Eon (1,111), British Gas (2,257), SSE (1,023), EDF Energy (881), Marks and Spencer Energy (60), Economy Energy (36), Cooperative Energy (148), Scottish Power (844), Extra Energy (98), Npower (785). GB Energy Supply (36) stopped trading in November 2016. It was in 10th position, with a customer score of 69%. Survey: October 2016.
Looking for our Northern Ireland results? Go to Northern Ireland electricity and gas firms.
Interpreting the energy survey results
Energy companies are ordered in our table, above, based on their customer score. The full survey table (click the link below the table to reveal this) also shows how the companies scored on our other criteria. So if great customer service is important to you, our table reveals each company's customer service rating - the more stars, the better.
We asked customers to rate their energy company's customer service and how it handles complaints, its value for money, the clarity and accuracy of bills and how it helps you save energy. We then asked how satisfied they felt overall, and whether they would recommend their energy company to a friend – this forms the customer satisfaction score. You can use the customer score to quickly compare the different companies.
Ovo Energy tops the table for the second year running, closely followed by newcomer Places for People (PFP) Energy, and Ebico. Price is the most important consideration when choosing a new energy supplier, according to our customer survey, so it’s no surprise that the highest-scoring energy companies are considered good value for money by their customers.
Price isn’t everything though – and being good value for money doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the cheapest on the market. Two of the three top-scoring firms, PFP and Ebico, are not-for-profit and don’t offer the cheapest deals. In fact Ebico and Ecotricity (in sixth place) offer some of the priciest tariffs. But they keep their customers satisfied.
In fact, after price and good value for money, our survey reveals that customer service is the most important factor for consumers when choosing an energy supplier.
The Big Six
The biggest six energy suppliers are in the lower half of the table. Npower is the lowest-scoring supplier for the seventh year in a row. It's the only suppler whose customers scored it one star for value for money. See our big six energy companies guide for full details about each firm.
Which? Recommended Provider award
In addition to the satisfaction survey results, we also carried out a comprehensive analysis of energy companies' practices, policies and prices. We award Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status to those companies which pass all of our criteria so we're confident that they're the best of the best and won't let you down.
To be rated as a Which? Recommended Provider, an energy supplier needs to:
- Be in the top group of companies rated the highest by their customers.
- Have no fines or sanctions brought against them by, or make redress payments in arrangement with, regulatory bodies, such as Ofgem and the Advertising Standards Authority, in the past year.
- 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.
- Be better than average on call waiting times to their customer service and sales lines.
- Pass our final price analysis. Energy firms must have a variable or fixed tariff in the cheapest part of the market for low, medium and high users for the average user across Great Britain. They also must not have a variable or fixed tariff in the most expensive band.
No energy suppliers passed every criteria to become Which? Recommended Providers in 2017. In 2016, there were two Which? Recommended Providers.
Who came close?
Ovo Energy was the closest contender. It passed our assessments but then paid out £54,000 in redress in December 2016, arranged with regulator Ofgem, for missing customer appointments and failing to pay compensation. So it misses out on WRP status this year.
Ecotricity and Ebico are both close contenders and passed on all criteria except price - they don't offer any tariffs in the cheapest part of the market. So they're worth considering if you don't mind paying a bit more for a good service.
Flow Energy, a WRP in 2016, narrowly missed out this year as its score for its policies and practices was slightly below average.
How quickly do energy companies answer the phone?
Though you can contact most energy companies by email, live chat and social media, call waiting times still matter – 12% of people who switched energy supplier said that ‘difficulty in contacting the supplier by phone’ was one of their top three reasons for leaving.
So we conduct snapshot investigations to reveal how long customers have to wait to have their phone calls answered by a human being.
In our latest investigation in September and October 2016, we made 552 calls to 23 energy suppliers. We called each supplier's customer service and sales numbers where available.
Answering the phone quickly is not impossible. Ebico has managed to answer calls to customer services in less than 30 seconds on average in all of our five mystery shopping investigations so far. To see the full results of our investigation, read our story on energy company call waiting times.
We can help you save money on your energy bills. Use our independent free switching site, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest energy deal.