Bulb Energy gained 6% of energy customers since it was founded in 2015. It's being put into special administration to protect customers and their energy supplies.
With 1.7million customers, Bulb is the largest supplier to get into difficulties amongst the wholesale market turmoil this year.
It's the first supplier to be placed into special administration. Smaller failed suppliers' customers have been transferred to other energy firms. Special administration is used when Ofgem can't use the more common Supplier of Last Resort Process, for example because the supplier in financial difficulty is too big.
The special administrator is expected to be appointed 'shortly', Bulb says.
Bulb says it will 'continue to operate as usual so you don't need to take any action'.
Your tariff won't change. Bulb offers just one tariff which is currently at the level of the price cap. It will continue to be subject to the price cap.
If you pay-as-you-go for energy, your top-ups will work as usual. Smart meter appointments will go ahead as scheuled.
If you're switching to or from Bulb, it will still go ahead.
Bulb's founders aimed to ‘make energy simpler, cheaper and greener’. It said it kept prices low by investing in technology to reduce costs.
Bulb Energy came joint-tenth out of 25 energy companies rated by 7,460 members of the public in the annual Which? energy customer survey – the broadest, most independent view of energy companies around.
Competitive prices, good customer service reputation.
They are brilliant! So easy to deal with and communication is so friendly you feel like you're talking to a real friend.
The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score in our latest survey.
Scroll down to read our verdict on Bulb, plus what customers think about different aspects of its service.
Bulb has gained customers quickly since its launch five years ago. Indeed, 58% of its customers in our survey said they joined it in the past two years. In contrast, just 25% of British Gas customers in our survey joined it over the same period.
Its rapid growth hasn't affected Bulb's ability to keep its customers happy over the four years it's been included in our survey, although it's dropped in the rankings this year, going from joint-third place last year to joint-tenth, with lower ratings for bill accuracy, complaints handling and value for money.
Customers gave their highest ratings for bill accuracy, bill clarity, customer service and complaints handling, with four stars for all of them. It got a three-star rating for value for money.
Bulb had a fairly low level of complaints in the first half of 2020 among the companies included in our survey, but it was well below average for resolving them on the same or next working day. It was about average for resolving them within eight weeks – 91% of complaints were resolved in this timeframe. While that may not sound terribly speedy, the worst companies resolved less than 60% in the same period.
Bulb answered calls in just under 10 minutes on average (9 minutes 56 seconds) in our latest snapshot investigation into energy companies' call-waiting times. This was faster than last year (19 minutes 2 seconds) but not as fast as the overall median average of the 31 companies we phoned (5 minutes 57 seconds).
No phones at evenings or weekends and they can take a while to respond to emails but they do get back to me.
It seems that prices have been going up recently.
It took a similar amount of time for Bulb to answer live chat. It took an average 9 minutes 29 seconds, against an average of 3 minutes 4 seconds for all companies we contacted this way.
Pros: Customers rate it well for billing, customer service and handling complaints
Cons: Slower than average to respond on the phone in our snapshot investigation
Yes, Bulb accepts customers with traditional and smart prepayment meters.
If you have a smart prepayment meter Bulb can operate, you'll be able to top-up online using your Bulb account or its app.
If you have a traditional prepayment meter, or it's not compatible with Bulb, then you can top-up at PayPoint and Payzone outlets.
Bulb’s renewable electricity is mainly backed by renewable energy certificates with a small proportion bought directly from generators. It doesn’t generate renewable electricity itself.
|Proportion of renewable electricity sold to domestic customers||Generates renewable electricity?||Buys renewable electricity directly from generators?||Proportion of customers’ renewable electricity matched by REGO certificates?||Generates or buys directly from fossil fuels?||Sells green gas?|
|100%||No||Yes (4.5%)||95.5%||No||Yes (3%)|
Proportion of renewable electricity according to Bulb’s 2019/20 fuel mix. Other responses based on information provided by suppliers in August and September 2021.
The generators that Bulb buys renewable power directly from include solar, wind and hydro.
Bulb says it's one of the biggest buyers of green gas. Around 3% of the gas it sells is green. Some 93% was generated from purpose grown crops, 4% from food or farm waste, and 3% from vegetable peelings and cereal straw in 2019/20. Bulb says that it’s one of the biggest buyers of green gas for homes in the UK.
November: Bulb was placed into special administration after being unable to secure investment.
May: Bulb announced price increases in both April and May. It said 'we're sorry to put prices up for the second time this year', explaining that the wholesale energy costs have increased by 29% since March.
Bulb was also the most complained-about energy supplier in the first three months of 2021, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
December: A deal was struck with PayPoint, allowing Bulb prepayment customers to pay for energy top-ups at 27,500 retailers including convenience stores.
October: Bulb launched what it says is the UK's first 100% renewable smart prepayment tariff, priced at below the prepayment price cap set by energy regulator Ofgem.
September: Bulb launched in Texas. It aims to simplify the market there, which it says is one of the most complex. It already provides power to homes in Spain and France.
August: Bulb paid out £1.76 million to around 61,000 customers in August 2020 for failures relating to switching, billing and not properly maintaining its Priority Services Register. Ofgem said Bulb has since made changes to improve its processes.
March: Bulb took on 9,000 customers from Gnergy when the smaller supplier stopped trading.
February: Bulb lowered its gas prices while others were raising theirs.