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6 August 2021

Bristol Energy

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

Bristol Energy is a small gas and electricity provider supplying the national domestic and business market. It was the first energy company to be entirely owned by a city council but was sold in 2020 after big losses. 

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

Bristol Energy offers three simple tariffs at competitive prices. All are green options that provide 100% renewable electricity and they have no exit fees. These can all be managed through an app although this isn't currently available to pay-as-you-go or business customers.

It began trading in 2016. In September 2020, Bristol Energy's domestic customer base and brand were sold to Together Energy. It has kept the brand, and your tariffs, terms and conditions and how you contact Bristol Energy haven't changed.

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 16th out of 25 energy firms rated by 7,460 members of the public in the annual Which? energy supplier satisfaction survey.

We weren't able to rate its parent company Together Energy this year but it came bottom in our 2020 survey.

Fair tariff, fair pricing, knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service.

Bristol Energy customer

When I've rung them for advice on the best tariff I have always received friendly, helpful, intelligent advice.

Bristol Energy customer

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 16th in our annual satisfaction survey – which means it's in the bottom 10 companies included in the survey this year.

This relatively new firm provides gas and electricity and offers three 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.

Bristol Energy customers gave its billing accuracy a good rating of four out of five stars in our survey. It was rated as excellent on this measure by 38% of its customers in this area, which is slightly higher than the 33% average across all the companies included in this year's survey.

Bristol Energy's customers are less impressed with its value for money, for which it received a middling three stars out of five. 71% 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.

It received just a three-star rating for bill clarity, although comments were mixed. One customer said 'it could be done in a much simpler way', while another said 'it is very clear what my charges are for'. 

I have no problems understanding my bill as everything is set out clearly for me.

Bristol Energy customer

Based upon my previous usage I believe my Bristol Energy bills are totally accurate.

Bristol Energy customer

Bristol Energy customer service 

Bristol Energy says ‘exceptional customer service’ is at the heart of its mission, although it only received a fair three-star rating for this in our survey. 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 44 minutes to reply, making it the second slowest of the 12 companies we contacted in this way.

Pros: Accurate bills; customers like its friendly service; 100% renewable energy   

Cons: Other companies are rated better for value for money

Can I join Bristol Energy with a prepayment meter?

Yes, Bristol Energy can supply customers with pay-as-you-go meters. With its smart prepayment meters you can top-up at a PayPoint outlet, online, by text and by phone. You'll need to register online before you make a payment from your phone.

You can get emergency credit (of around £5 or more) if you have run out on your meter. Bristol Energy recommends you only use this as a last resort in case you're not able to buy more credit. 

Bristol Energy fuel mix

Bristol Energy in the news

Bristol Energy in 2021

March: Bristol Energy is paying 12,600 of its customers a total of £56,500 after overcharging them when they switched supplier or tariff between 2013 and 2020. It was one of 18 energy firms found by regulator Ofgem to have failed to uphold these rules. Over 1 million customers were affected.

Affected customers will receive £4.48 each, on average.

Bristol Energy in 2020

December: Bristol City Council asked for an independent report into what went wrong with Bristol Energy since it lost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds. 

September: Bristol Energy found a buyer - Together Energy - for 155,000 home customers. Together Energy said it planned to keep the Bristol Energy brand and that customers' tariffs, terms and conditions and how they contact their energy supplier weren't changing. Together Energy ranked at the bottom of the 2020 Which? energy survey. 

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

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

Bristol Energy in 2019

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

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

Don't pay your energy company more than you need to. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity deals.