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Best and worst energy companies

How to choose the best energy company

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How to choose the best energy company

Why you should consider more than just price when you choose your energy company. Use our research to find the best gas and electricity firm for you.

There are more energy companies to choose from than there are weeks in the year – and the number of gas and electricity suppliers in Great Britain is constantly growing. But 2018 also saw a few energy companies go bust, so picking one from the ever-changing list can be daunting.

Around three quarters of us still buy our energy from one of the biggest six suppliers. All of them ranked in the bottom 10 out of the 30 energy suppliers included in our latest energy companies satisfaction survey.

So there’s every reason to shop around to find an energy supplier to suit you, whether you’re looking for the cheapest deal on the market, renewable energy, great online service, smart meters, a local firm or something else.

Our energy satisfaction survey results are a unique insight into what customers really think of their energy suppliers. You can use this, plus our expert advice, to cut through marketing jargon and money-saving claims to find the best energy suppliers.

Use our research below to help find the best energy firm for you. Or if you just want the cheapest, compare gas and electricity prices with Which? Switch.

Find the best energy company for you

Here you'll find out about energy suppliers which deliver what you want, but you might not have heard of some of them before.

Tell us what’s important to you in an energy supplier in our quiz below and then jump straight to find out more about suppliers offering exactly that.

Or scroll down to find out more about green energy suppliers, firms with an online/digital focus, ones which offer the latest in smart home technology, innovative tariffs, or locally-run gas and electricity suppliers.

Looking for the best and worst energy firms in Northern Ireland? Head to our guide to Northern Ireland electricity and gas companies.

Renewable energy companies

You’ll find several energy companies, and a selection of tariffs, which brand themselves as ‘green’. But there’s no set definition of what ‘green’ means, so it’s worth checking before you sign up.

Ecotricity and Good Energy are the most established renewable energy companies. Both sell only tariffs backed by 100% renewable electricity, supply a proportion of ‘green gas’ (from biomethane), and fund renewable generation such as solar panel farms, wind turbines and biomass.

Newer energy suppliers offering only tariffs with 100% renewable electricity include Bulb Energy, Green Energy UK, Octopus Energy, Pure Planet, and Tonik Energy.

You’ll find other energy suppliers offer a tariff with 100% renewable electricity, for example Co-operative Energy or Octopus Energy, though their other tariffs may have a different fuel mix.

It’s a common myth that buying tariffs backed by 100% renewable electricity is expensive. It doesn’t have to be; our research has found 100% renewable electricity tariffs for less than £1,000 per year for the medium energy user. That’s £400 less per year than the priciest tariffs on the market (data correct 4 December 2018).

Online energy and smart home technology

Some newer energy firms claim to be digitally focused and pride themselves on slick online service and user-friendly websites.

For example, Pure Planet was initially only available to sign up to through its smartphone app and Eversmart Energy offers smartphone-based customer services. Ovo Energy’s online account allows customers to see how much they’re spending on running different types of home appliances.

Live chat is becoming more widely available, and can be a quick way to get a response from your energy company. We went undercover to find out how fast energy companies reply on live chat and email – see the results of our energy customer waiting times investigation.

All of the bigger energy companies are installing smart meters, and the smallest must begin to do so this year in order to meet the 2020 deadline. Check our smart meters guide to find out who is installing what now, plus what you need to know before you get a smart meter.

Increasing numbers of suppliers are selling smart home products, or including them free when you sign up to certain tariffs. For example:

  • British Gas sells Hive smart thermostats, Amazon Alexa smart speakers and Boiler IQ devices which alert it if your boiler develops a fault
  • EDF Energy sells Netatmo smart thermostats
  • Eon and SSE sell Tado smart thermostats and smart radiator controls
  • Engie includes a Nest thermostat with its Control tariff

Energy and broadband bundles

Utility Warehouse was the original company to bundle multiple home services together in one monthly bill. You can buy broadband, home phone and mobile packages from it, as well as energy.

But others are now getting in on the action. SSE and First Utility also sell broadband, and Economy Energy launched pay-as-you-go mobile last year before it went bust.

Boiler cover and insurance

Several of the bigger energy companies, such as British Gas, SSE and Scottish Power, sell boiler cover which often comes with call-out repair services if yours breaks. 

Before you buy, read our advice on how to choose the best boiler cover.

Innovative energy tariffs

There used to be a rule that limited energy companies to selling just four different tariffs. Since that was scrapped, increasing numbers of different tariffs are appearing.

Smart tariffs require you to have a smart meter installed. Sometimes they offer a discount compared with a regular meter tariff. Other smart tariffs give lower prices for electricity used at specific times of day. 

Green Energy UK, Octopus Energy and Usio Energy Supply offer these smart time-of-use tariffs, but they’re expected to become more widespread as smart meters are rolled out.

Tracker tariffs pass the cost of wholesale energy directly onto the customer. The aim is to make the price you pay for energy much more transparent. When the wholesale cost drops, you’ll see the savings passed on. But if it increases, you’ll pay more too. 

Octopus Energy is among suppliers offering this type of tariff, though they’re all slightly different.

Local energy firms

Energy firms such as Angelic Energy, Peterborough Energy, Ram Energy and Southend Energy are partnerships between local councils and existing energy companies to supply local residents with cheaper rates for gas and electricity. To access some of these, you will need to be a tenant of the council.

National energy firms sometimes sell tariffs available only in specific areas. For example Robin Hood Energy supplies customers nationwide but offers some cheaper deals to those who live in Derbyshire and Nottingham.

Pay-as-you-go energy

Utilita focuses mainly on customers with prepayment energy meters. It says it has installed smart meters in around 90% of its customers’ homes, allowing them to top-up online, via text message and phone, as well as at PayPoint outlets.

If you have a PAYG energy meter, or are considering one, read our advice on is a prepayment energy meter right for me?

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