As its name suggests, British Gas is British owned and based. It's still the biggest energy company in the UK and is estimated to serve around twelve million homes.
The firm is a subsidiary of Centrica, a multinational energy and services company, which also owns utility suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and North America. It has taken on customers of Robin Hood Energy, People's Energy and other smaller firms when they stopped trading.
It's known as Scottish Gas in Scotland and claims to be ‘bringing Britain the smooth-running homes of today and tomorrow’. As well as gas and electricity, it also sells boilers, smart home products from the Hive brand and HomeCare insurance.
British Gas offers several tariffs including a 'green future' tariff, which matches your electricity use with renewable sources such as UK wind and solar. Customers on a fixed rate tariff 'may be asked to pay an exit fee' to leave their contract early.
The British Gas Rewards scheme gives customers personalised offers, which can include films on Sky, days out at UK attractions, tickets to live shows at The O2, Wilbur the Penguin toys and discounts on restaurant meals and days out.
Customers can download the British Gas app on iOS and Android devices. From the app, you can send meter readings and pay bills in a couple of taps. Smart meter customers can set budgets and monitor their energy usage.
British Gas is ranked 8th out of 18 energy companies rated by 8,390 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey.
Comments from customers are mixed. We've heard from some people that have had a positive experience, while others say they're let down by high prices and poor customer service.
My bills are never extortionate and the customer service is great
Too expensive and way too difficult to communicate with
After quizzing its customers, we've been able to score British Gas on customer service, bill accuracy and clarity, plus overall value for money.
Take a look at our table below to see our score breakdown for British Gas.
|Value for money|
Based on a survey of 1,930 British Gas customers carried out in September 2021.
Pros: Survey results suggest bills are reasonably accurate and clear
Cons: Poor customer service rating overall, many customers don't think they're getting good value for money
British Gas scored an unimpressive two stars for customer service, so it's no surprise that we heard from a number of unhappy customers. The provider wasn't alone though, as EDF Energy, Shell Energy and SSE also scored two stars for customer service in our survey.
One British Gas customer told us: 'Trying to get customer service to do things can be very slow. You're promised everything, but it very rarely happens quickly.' Another customer said: '[I've dealt with] poor customer service and long waits on the phone.'
But some customers told us they were happy with the service provided by British Gas. One respondent said: 'They have great customer service and I've never had any issues with them.'
However almost two-thirds (65%) of British Gas customers overall said they were satisfied with the firm and 57% called its customer service good.
British Gas scored reasonably well for bill accuracy and clarity, finishing with a three-star rating in both categories. Some customers praised an accurate billing system, while others had some gripes they wanted to mention.
One survey respondent told us: 'British Gas always gives you accurate readings on how much you have to pay. They are clearly on the customer's side.' Another said: 'My bills are accurate and simple.'
However, another customer said: 'Generally I'm happy, but sometimes the statements can be confusing and there is no accompanying note on why you have suddenly received 15 pages of amendments.' We also heard from a customer that said their bills were 'hard to understand.'
Only one energy company in our survey scored four stars for bill accuracy. At the other end of the table, we saw Scottish Power and SSE with an underwhelming two-star rating for bill accuracy.
British Gas scored just two stars for value for money in our latest survey. This places it near the bottom of our value table alongside EDF Energy, E.ON, Scottish Power and SSE.
Only one firm, E.ON Next, scored one star for value for money – it also came last for customer score.
Customers were keen to voice their concerns in our survey. One British Gas user told us: 'Their customer service is abysmal and their products are expensive and offer poor value for money.'
They offer poor value for money
They don't have the best value and the bills are hard to understand
Just 15% shared that they had reason to complain about British Gas in the year to October 2021. The majority of complaints we heard from British Gas customers were linked to disappointing customer service or poor value for money.
We also saw plenty of instances where the firm was described as 'slow'. One customer told us: 'I have been transferred to British Gas from a defunct supplier, but they have been incredibly slow in letting me know what's going on.' Another said: 'Sometimes they can be slow to help.'
Yes. British Gas pay-as-you-go customers can top-up at a Post Office or Payzone outlet. A message on the firm's website explains: 'You’ll need to top up by at least £5, and you'll always need to top up to the nearest pound.'
It's installing smart prepayment meters. Customers who have the can top-up using the British Gas website, its app or an automated payment phone line.
British Gas offers £5 emergency credit for when you run out of energy but can't top-up. Friendly emergency credit is activated automatically if you run out of credit between 6pm and 9am, on a Sunday or bank holiday. You can also activate emergency credit at other times via your smart meter, in-home display or using your key or card with a traditional meter.
Any energy you use will be recorded as debt on your meter and you'll pay it back next time you top-up.
British Gas generates some of the renewable electricity it sells, buys some directly from generators and buys certificates to match the remainder of its customers’ use
Overall British Gas’ electricity fuel mix is 75% renewable and 25% nuclear (from its share in EDF Energy’s nuclear plants).
It generates around 4,000MW of renewable power each year, mainly from wind (50%) and biomass/ biogas (46%) and a smaller amount of solar power (4%). It has offshore wind generation in the north sea and onshore wind in Scotland.
British Gas matches 14.6% of its domestic customers’ use with this and has contracts to buy another 15% directly from generators. This doesn’t match every customer’s use though – nearly two thirds of its electricity is matched with renewable power generated outside the UK, in Europe, using Guarantees of Origin (GoOs).
Customers who buy British Gas’ Green Future Tariff will have their electricity use matched with renewable sources of generation in the UK.
February: British Gas set up a scheme that's designed to ringfence the £294m it holds in credit balances through direct debits from its customers. The money will be held in a bank account separate from funds the company uses to run its day-to-day business.
April: The energy provider has been called on by YourMoney.com for an apology after former People’s Energy and Neon Reef customers who were moved it through the Supplier of Last Resort process stated they received misleading emails about the price they would pay for their energy use. YourMoney.com submitted evidence to Ofgem and the Energy Ombudsman, calling on them to urgently investigate the issue.
December: The supplier announced that its newer brand, British Gas Evolve, was changing its name to British Gas.
November: British Gas became the new supplier for Bluegreen Energy, Neon Reef, Social Energy and Zebra Power customers when the smaller firms stopped trading.
September: Customers of MoneyPlus Energy, People's Energy and PFP Energy were moved to British Gas after the smaller suppliers stopped trading. In total, around 441,000 customers moved to British Gas.
April: British Gas will begin supplying gas and electricity to Nabuh Energy's 36,000 customers after it bought the smaller brand.
March: British Gas is paying 141,415 of its customers over £1.2m 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 £8.97 each, on average, reimbursing them and paying some compensation.
September: British Gas has acquired Robin Hood Energy and all the energy companies on its network, including Ebico.
August: British Gas paid out £1.48m to around 270,000 prepayment customers for failing to tell them when it changed their top-up provider on 1 January 2020, energy regulator Ofgem announced.
Some customers may not have had electricity or gas supply during cold weather as a result and they couldn’t phone British Gas on 1 January as its general enquiries line was closed.