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12 July 2021

Energy companies: Which? Recommended Providers

Energy suppliers have to be on top of their game to earn Which? Recommended Provider status. Find out what it takes to become an energy WRP, plus which two energy firms won our award in 2021.
SI
Sarah Ingrams
Which recommended provider new 451605

The accolade of Which? Recommended Provider for energy is only awarded to the companies that we’re confident meet the highest standards, are loved by those who use them and don’t overcharge customers.

It’s not easy to achieve. If no companies live up to our high standards, we’re not afraid to leave the industry empty-handed. In 2017 we did just that.

Read on to find out which two suppliers are Which? Recommended Providers for energy in 2021, how we assess companies for the award, and which companies narrowly missed out this year.

Which? Recommended Providers for energy 2021

Two companies achieved the coveted Which? Recommended Provider status this time. They are Octopus Energy and Pure Planet.

Both passed our tough assessments (we've got more detail on these below), which include analysis of pricing, complaints, and what customers really think of them.

Octopus Energy has been a WRP an impressive three times before. This is the second year that Pure Planet has achieved the award; it was included in our energy companies' satisfaction survey for the first time last year and has impressed Which? energy experts on both occasions.

Octopus Energy received the higher customer score of our two WRPs, but both achieved the highest rating for providing accurate bills and had similarly high proportions of customers who'd had no problems in the last 12 months.

Find out more about our WRPs in our dedicated reviews for:

To help you pick which is the best for you, we’ve compared both Which? Recommended Providers on various criteria below.


Octopus Energy
Pure Planet
Customer score
80%
74%
Phone customer service
Yes
No
Online customer service
Email
Via app using its AI bot
Supplies prepayment customers
Yes
No
Charges exit fees
No
Yes on its fixed tariff

Customer scores are based on a survey in September 2020 of 7,330 energy customers in Great Britain.

Which energy suppliers came close to WRP status?

Outfox the Market had the highest customer score in our survey this year but it's not a WRP because it did not respond fully to our questions about its procedures - an important part of our overall assessment - and it was ordered by energy market regulator Ofgem to make its payment into the feed-in tariff scheme.

So Energy was a WRP last year but didn't quite meet all of the tough criteria this time. It compared well with other firms when we assessed their procedures but its long customer waiting times in our snapshot investigation meant that it scored below average in our performance assessments, which look at customer waiting times on the phone and online, as well as complaints.

Avro Energy and People's Energy fared well overall in our customer survey but missed out on WRP status. Avro Energy because it did not respond to our questions about its procedures. People's Energy scored below average both for its procedures and when we looked at its performance on complaints and customer waiting times. 

While it received relatively few complaints, People's Energy wasn't the quickest to resolve them, sorting out less than 40% within two days in the first half of 2020, while the best firms resolved more than 80%. It was also slower than others to respond to customer enquiries on live chat, compared with other brands we tested, taking more than four minutes on average.

Which? Recommended Provider criteria

Our energy satisfaction survey is the first piece in the puzzle for aspiring Which? Recommended Providers. Companies must be among the highest scorers, based on feedback from their customers. See the full results of our energy satisfaction survey.

In addition to our satisfaction survey results, we also carry out detailed analysis of energy companies' procedures, customer service, complaints 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. 

We also continually review and improve our criteria to make sure they're focused on what's most important to customers.

To become a Which? Recommended Provider, an energy supplier must:

  • Be in the top group of companies as rated by their customers.
  • Not have had fines or sanctions brought against them by, or have significant regulatory intervention with, bodies such as Ofgem and the Advertising Standards Authority, in the past year.
  • Have procedures that we think are in the best interest of customers. We score energy companies against a set of 24 criteria that cover the main elements of the customer journey, including: account management, billing, complaints processes, customer service and switching.
  • Be better than average for a combination of call and online waiting times based on our snapshot investigations into energy company waiting times, and for complaints based on the number they receive and how fast they resolve them (according to Ofgem data).
  • Pass our final price analysis. Energy firms must have a tariff in the cheapest part of the market for low, medium and high use for the average user across Great Britain. They must also not have a variable tariff in the most expensive band.

Previous energy WRPs

Flow Energy, Ovo Energy and So Energy are the only other energy firms to have previously been Which? Recommended Providers. So Energy was a WRP last year. Both Flow Energy and Ovo Energy received the award in 2016, but Ovo Energy lost it when it raised its prices. Ovo Energy was also our very first WRP in 2015. There were no WRPs for energy in 2017.

Find the best energy company for you at the best price: compare gas and electricity prices with Which? Switch.