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20 September 2021

Which? energy survey results

Frustrated with your energy firm? Find out what thousands of energy customers think of their suppliers. Use our research to choose the best gas and electricity company for you.
SI
Sarah Ingrams
Energy companies satisfaction survey

Electricity and gas are essential services, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with poor service or high prices.

Our annual UK energy satisfaction survey covers 25 suppliers in Great Britain and six in Northern Ireland. 

It captures the experiences of more than 7,000 energy customers who tell us what they really think of the service they receive. This gives you the inside track on finding the very best energy companies you can rely on and avoiding those you can't.

As well as rating the traditional big energy suppliers – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power – we also investigate newer and smaller companies. This includes fast-growing firms such as Bulb, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and Shell Energy, as well as newcomers you might not yet have heard about.

This year, two energy companies have impressed us enough to earn our prestigious Which? Recommended Provider award, wowing their customers with top-notch service and delivering against our stringent assessment criteria. 

They are:

Our league table below reveals the energy winners and losers in Great Britain. If you live in Northern Ireland, we've rounded up the best and worst energy providers in our review of Northern Ireland electricity and gas firms.

Just want to save money on your energy bills? It's quick and easy to switch energy supplier with Which? Switch, our impartial free switching site. Compare gas and electricity prices now.

Best and worst energy companies

Click on each company's name in the table to find out more about it. We’ve included the results from our customer survey, carried out in September 2020, as well as those from our unique procedures assessment. We use this to compare companies’ approaches to service, including opening hours, accessibility of websites, helping customers switch seamlessly and having bills that are easy to understand.

Energy companies rated
Company
Accurate bills
Clear bills
Customer service
Complaints handling
Value for money
Customer score
Procedures score
-
82%
-
80%
70%
76%
-

4. People's Energy (closed Sept21)

-
-
75%
59%
-
-
74%
69%
-
-
73%
77%
-
71%
63%
70%
69%
-
-
70%
60%
69%
69%

=10. Green Network Energy (closed Jan21)


69%
66%
-
-
68%
-

=12. Utilita

68%
70%
-
66%
61%

15. Utility Point (closed Sept21)

-
65%
64%
-
64%
-
63%
71%

=18. Boost

62%
70%
62%
62%

=20. E

61%
-
61%
-

=22. Eon

60%
-

=22. SSE

60%
78%
55%
68%

25. Npower**

54%
-
Table notes: 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: 64%.(-) indicates too few responses to give a rating. In bold – customer scores over 70% or procedures scores above average. In red – Which? Recommended Provider . * Sainsbury's Energy is now a partnership with Eon Next. At the time of the survey it was a partnership with Npower. ** Npower customers have moved to Eon Next.
Sample sizes: Outfox the Market (72), Octopus Energy (429), Avro Energy (181), People's Energy (67), Pure Planet (65), So Energy (60), Utility Warehouse (66), Sainsbury's Energy (51), Ovo Energy (196), Bulb (497), Green Network Energy (91), Utilita (140), Green Energy UK (52), Ecotricity (63), Utility Point (84), Bristol Energy (57), Shell Energy (193), Boost (60), British Gas (1,539), E (73), EDF Energy (588), Eon (950), SSE (452), Scottish Power (465), Npower (286). Survey: September 2020.

If you live in Northern Ireland, take a look at our scores for six Northern Ireland electricity and gas firms.

Interpreting the Which? energy survey results

As well as our exclusive energy companies customer survey, we assess firms on measures that it’s harder for customers to rate. All these factor into our Which? Recommended Provider assessment and include:

  • how fast they respond to customers online or on the phone
  • how quickly they resolve complaints
  • the results of our procedures analysis
  • pricing.

Top-scoring energy companies

Outfox the Market tops the table for the first time, having scored far better than last year, when it was in the lower half of the table. Octopus Energy follows closely in second place.

Taking into account other factors we look at, including an assessment of their procedures, Octopus Energy and Pure Planet are this year’s Which? Recommended Providers (WRP) for energy.

Both of our Which? Recommended Providers score highly for customer satisfaction so, to help you decide between them, it's worth knowing how their offerings differ, for example whether they offer phone-based customer service or tariffs for electric vehicles. See how our Which? Recommended Providers compare, or see more of our findings about Octopus Energy and Pure Planet.

Father on the phone with a child on his knee

In total, nine firms in our survey scored over 70%, putting them in the running for our WRP award. But seven didn't quite make it for reasons including being slow to answer the phone, scoring below average in our procedures assessment or making a payment after energy regulator Ofgem found they'd done something wrong.

Firms that narrowly missed out on WRP status include Avro Energy and So Energy. Both fell short on just one criteria.

Read more about Avro Energy and So Energy to find out where they excelled and why they didn't quite make WRP.

Price is the most important consideration for most people when choosing a new energy supplier, according to our 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 rated good value for money by customers doesn’t mean an energy supplier is the cheapest on the market. Octopus Energy doesn't always offer the cheapest deals but customers still rate it good value for money, indicating that it demonstrates its value in other ways.

Lowest-scoring energy companies

Npower was the lowest-scoring company in our latest survey, finishing in last place. The firm is closing down and customers have moved to Eon Next. Scottish Power scores similarly poorly. Both have been near the bottom of the table for several years running, though neither was in last position last year.

Our survey shows the importance of customer service and resolving customers' complaints successfully. These were the only two firms to score just two stars for how they handle complaints and Scottish Power scored as poorly for its customer service. One in 10 of its customers in our survey said its service was poor.

Both fared poorly for value too, with one star apiece. Npower had the highest proportion of customers who said it was poor value for money in our survey.

Traditional energy companies

Six energy firms have dominated the market for decades, five of which still supply more than half of energy customers today – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower and Scottish Power. SSE used to be among them but the brand is now owned by Ovo. These firms consistently rank in the lower half of our table.

British Gas is the highest-rated of the traditional big firms this year, in joint 18th place. That said, its customer score is little different to EDF Energy, Eon and SSE. Customers evidently find there’s little to choose between them.

However, the dominance of the traditional big firms is ending. Ovo Energy is now the second-largest supplier and scores far better, finishing joint 8th overall. With SSE's customers now under its wing, we'll be keeping a close eye on whether the brand gets better ratings in future.

More changes are afoot, too. Npower is now majority owned by Eon, while Bulb and Octopus are gaining customers fast. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how these changes impact customers.

Most popular way to contact your energy supplier

Phoning or emailing your energy company are the most popular ways to get in touch. While a quarter of us still choose to pick up the phone to speak to our provider, this is much less popular than it used to be. Live chat is becoming more popular, while as many people use social media as write a letter to their energy firm, according to our survey:

  • Phone - 26%
  • Email - 20%
  • Live chat - 12%
  • Enquiry form online - 9%
  • App - 8%
  • In-person - 5%
  • Text message - 4%
  • Letter - 3%
  • Social media - 3%

We regularly carry out snapshot undercover investigations to reveal how long customers have to wait for their phone calls to be answered by a human being. We also contact energy suppliers via live chat (if they offer it) or email or online form (if they don’t offer live chat) to find out how long it takes to get a response that isn’t an automated acknowledgement.

In our latest investigation in September and October 2020, we contacted energy suppliers a total of 804 times. We made 384 phone calls to 32 energy companies, sent 420 emails, online form requests and live chat messages.

Which energy companies are quickest?

Together Energy picked up the phone fastest. It answered calls to its customers in 51 seconds on average in our latest call waiting investigation, making it the fastest supplier to put us through to a person. 

Overall, five firms put us through to a person in less than two minutes on average.

Four firms, Boost, British Gas, Npower and Orbit Energy, kept their customers waiting more than 20 minutes, with the worst performer, Boost, scoring a median average waiting time of over 40 minutes. 

A further seven firms kept customers waiting more than 10 minutes.

Together Energy vs Boost: customer service telephone waiting times

In September and October 2020 we made 12 calls to energy companies' customer services teams at set times of the day and timed how long it took us to get through to a human. The times are median averages.

Together Energy vs Boost call waiting times

Customer service telephone waiting times for all companies

You can use the search bar, below, to quickly find the results for your energy supplier or companies you're interested in. 

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