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10 November 2020

Bristol Energy

Bristol Energy says it aims to always offer you the cheapest tariff possible. But is Bristol the best energy company for you?
Bristoal energy logo 470935
Jade Harding

Bristol Energy is a small gas and electric provider supplying the national domestic and business market. It is the first energy company to be entirely owned by a city council, meaning there are no stakeholders or investors.

The ethos of the firm is: ‘Simple. Fair. Transparent’. This covers reinvesting money into fighting against fuel poverty, increasing renewable energy generation and helping Bristol’s communities.

Bristol Energy offers eight simple tariffs at competitive prices, including a green option that provides 100% renewable electricity from local sources - these can all be managed through an online account.

It began trading in 2016. In September 2020, Bristol Energy's domestic customer-base and brand were sold to Together Energy. It plans to keep the brand and your tariffs, terms and conditions and how you contact Bristol Energy aren't changing.

Will Bristol Energy give you the best energy deal? Use Which? Switch to compare electricity and gas prices to find the best deal for you.

Bristol Energy customer score

Bristol Energy was ranked joint 9th out of 35 energy firms rated by 8,355 members of the public in the annual Which? energy supplier satisfaction survey.

It shares its position with Co-operative Energy, Engie and Ovo Energy. All four beat the traditional Big Six energy firms. 

Bristol Energy score breakdown

Below we show more details about Bristol Energy’s score from our latest survey. 

Scroll down to find out more about what it's like to be a Bristol Energy customer, and to see what goes into its fuel mix.

Find out how Bristol Energy compares with other energy companiesclick to see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Bristol Energy

Bristol Energy is ranked joint ninth in our annual satisfaction survey – which means it made it into the top ten companies included in the survey this year.

This relatively new firm provides gas and electric, and now only offers three green tariffs, all of which use 100% renewable electricity.

Bristol Energy offers the Warm Home Discount; a national scheme that gives a £140 payment to those struggling to pay their energy bills. It's a compulsory scheme for large energy companies, but some smaller firms – including Bristol – also offer it.

As it's a local company, Bristol Energy aims to help local businesses and charities, while also offering a drop-in face-to-face customer service point.

Bristol Energy customers gave its billing accuracy the highest rating, five stars, in our survey. It was rated as excellent by 48% of its customers in this area, which is much higher than the 35% average across all the companies included in this year's survey.

Bristol Energy's customers are also impressed its value for money, for which it received a respectable four stars out of five. 84% of the firm's customers said it was good or excellent in this area. 

It offers a variety of payment options, including direct debits and prepayment meters, as well as a discount for paperless billing.

However customers of Bristol Energy were not so enamoured by its digital tools – or lack of them. One customer said that there is 'no app or live chats available'. We should note that Bristol Energy does actually have a members' app, but this comment suggests it may not be as visible as it should be.  

It also received just a three-star rating for bill clarity, which is clearly another area which could be improved upon, though comments were mixed. One customer said 'the bills are unclear', while another commented 'clear and easy to understand'.  

Bristol Energy customer service 

Customer service was rated highly in our survey, too. 86% of its customers said it was excellent or good, resulting in a four-star rating, with one customer commenting 'I'm happy with the service'. 

Bristol Energy says ‘exceptional customer service’ is at the heart of its mission. Unfortunately, we didn't receive enough responses to give its complaints handling a rating. 

In our latest energy companies' call waiting investigation carried out in September and October 2020, Bristol Energy answered calls in 3 minutes 45 seconds. This was faster than the overall average pick up time of 5 minutes 57 seconds of the 31 companies that we called. The slowest firm took over 40 minutes.

Bristol Energy wasn't as quick at responding to emails, taking an average of four days, one hour and 44mins to reply, making it the second slowest of the 12 companies we contacted in this way.

Pros: Face-to-face service for local customers, customers like its prices and customer service  

Cons: Other companies are rated better for digital tools

Bristol Energy fuel mix

Bristol Energy in the news

September: Bristol Energy found a buyer - Together Energy - for 150,000 home customers. Together Energy says it plans to keep the Bristol Energy brand and that customers' tariffs, terms and conditions and how they contact their energy supplier aren't changing. Together Energy ranked at the bottom of the most recent Which? energy survey.

June: Council leaders have agreed to sell local authority-owned Bristol Energy. £36.5 million of taxpayers' money has been spent on the venture and the company has posted total losses of £32.5 million since it began operating.

January: Bristol energy launched three new green tariffs; BE Simply Green, BE Super Green and Big Issue Super Green. These will now be the only ones available to Bristol Energy customers. 

February: From 1 April, customers on Bristol’s standard variable tariff will pay £101 extra per year (based on a medium user). The firm is raising its prices by 9%.

January: Bristol Energy reported a loss of £11.2 million for the last financial year. But also announced it had quadrupled it turnover the same period, from £13.6m to £52.3m.

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