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1 October 2020

Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy claims to be ‘doing energy better' – and our expert analysis suggests it's living up to expectations. It's a Which? Recommended Provider for the third year on the trot. 
Octopus energy new 485599
SI
Sarah Ingrams

Octopus Energy has grown incredibly quickly since its launch in 2016. It now supplies more than 1.4 million homes, having gained around 30,000 customers a month, on average, and acquired six other firms in two years.

It says it’s committed to ‘fair and transparent’ prices and to making things as simple as possible for its customers. It aims to provide great value for the long term.

It offers a range of tariffs, including a green tariff with 100% renewable electricity and full carbon offsetting for gas, a tariff designed for electric vehicle drivers, and a tariff that tracks wholesale energy prices and allows customers to see their costs daily.

Octopus Energy's tariffs are often among the cheapest in England, Scotland and Wales. None of its tariffs have exit fees.

Part of its growth is down to it taking on customers from other energy suppliers. Back in 2018, it acquired the customers of M&S Energy, Iresa, Affect Energy and Gen4U. And in 2019 it begun supplying Co-operative Energy’s customers, and transferred across those from Flow Energy and GB Energy Supply. At the start of 2020, Octopus Energy bought rival supplier Engie, adding another 70,000 customers to its business.

Read on to find out how Octopus Energy measures up to more established firms, plus results for Flow Energy before the brand was retired.

Compare gas and electricity prices using Which? Switch to see if you could save money with Octopus Energy.

Octopus Energy customer score

Octopus Energy came top out of 35 energy companies rated by 7,355 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey – the broadest independent view of energy companies out there.

It’s a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) for energy for the third year running, after passing all our tough assessments. 

Find out more about how firms qualify to become a Which? Recommended Provider for energy, or read on to learn what Octopus Energy’s customers think of it. Head down the page to find out about Flow Energy.

Octopus Energy score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of Octopus Energy’s score in our latest survey.

Scroll down to read our verdict on Octopus Energy and to find out more about its prices.

Find out how Octopus Energy compares with other energy firms in our guide to the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Octopus Energy

If Octopus Energy was a child it wouldn’t have started school yet, but thanks to its achievements it's already outstripped much older firms. It’s the only energy firm to have been made a WRP three times, while growing its customer base to more than a million.

It was one of only two firms in our survey to receive the maximum five-star ratings from its customers on complaints handling – no mean feat.

Octopus Energy also passed our assessment of procedures and practices, and our pricing check, to become a WRP.

Out of the suppliers in our survey, it had the highest proportion of customers who rated its customer service and bill clarity as 'excellent'. 

More than 90% of customers rated it 'good' or 'excellent' on all measures we asked about, with the exception of complaints handling (which 89% said was 'good' or 'excellent').

Besides being highly rated by its customers, it gets relatively few complaints, although it’s not the fastest at resolving them. In the first six months of 2019, it received just two complaints per 1,000 customers, but solved just under half on the same or next working day. A few firms manage to solve more than 80% in that time.

Octopus Energy is owned by Octopus Investments, which funds solar panel sites, wind generation and anaerobic digestion. It claims its solar farms make up 40% of the large-scale solar generation in Great Britain.

It took us 2mins 14secs, on average, to get through to a human on the phone to Octopus in our energy company response times undercover investigation in September 2019. With one firm we got through in 38 seconds, but Octopus Energy is still far quicker than the slowest firm, Scottish Power, which took more than 21 minutes to answer the phone, on average.

Octopus focuses more on email, for which its response time was average across the companies included in our snapshot research. It took one day 3hrs and 21mins, on average, to respond. The fastest firm, So Energy, took just 29 minutes on average, while the slowest, Powershop, took more than five days.

Pros: A Which? Recommended Provider, relatively fast to respond to emails, competitive prices

Cons: Not as speedy as some at resolving complaints

Flow Energy results

We included Flow Energy in our customer survey before customers were transferred to Octopus and the brand closed. Originally launched in 2013, it had around 150,000 customers and because part of Co-operative Energy in 2018.

Flow Energy came joint-16th out of 35 energy companies (alongside Avro Energy), ranking much lower in our table than Octopus Energy. The graphic below shows the breakdown of Flow Energy’s score from our latest survey.

When we conducted a snapshot investigation into energy companies customer waiting times, Flow Energy took less than a minute to answer the phone, on average (45 seconds) – faster than linked brands Cooperative Energy, GB Energy and Octopus Energy.

Customers of Flow Energy and GB Energy Supply are being moved on to an Octopus Energy tariff as their current tariffs end.

Octopus Energy electricity sources

Octopus Energy in the news

January:Octopus bought Engie UK and took on its 70,000 customers. Engie decided to leave the UK household energy supply market.

Earlier in the month Octopus Energy cut gas prices for 250,000 of its customers from 15 January, reducing their bills by £80 per year, on average.

Co-op Energy customers on its standard tariff will save £160 on their bills in a year (because they were previously paying more than Octopus Energy customers), while M&S customers will see a 2% drop. Both brands are operated by Octopus Energy.

Octopus Energy said that the price cut was owing to falling wholesale prices and operational efficiency.

September: Octopus announced a partnership with the Mayor of London to create a new energy company, exclusively for Londoners.

London Power will launch in December, selling only renewable electricity. Octopus says its tariff will always be within the cheapest 10% of comparable tariffs. All profits will be reinvested by City Hall into community projects tackling fuel poverty and making London a zero-carbon city.

Earlier the same month, Octopus Energy announced it would start supplying electricity and gas, and providing customer service to Co-Operative Energy’s 300,000 customers. Flow Energy and GB Energy customers (currently supplied by the Co-op) will be moved to Octopus when their tariffs end. This brings Octopus Energy to around one million customers.

April: Octopus announced that it would cut the price of its Flexible Octopus tariff by around £30 a year for the average household from 1 May.

Gas prices will be cut 4% and electricity prices 2%.

It announced the price cut on 1 April; the day that the energy price cap was increased and many firms upped their prices for customers by more than £100 a year

February: When the price cap increase was announced, Octopus said that its prices will remain ‘unchanged and significantly lower than the cap’.

September: Ofgem appointed Octopus Energy to take on Gen4U's 500 customers when it went bust.

Octopus Energy also bought smaller rival Affect Energy and became M&S Energy’s supply partner, replacing SSE, which had worked with M&S Energy for nine years. Octopus Energy said customers would benefit from its digital-first approach to bills and customer service. M&S Energy said it expected eight in 10 customers to save money compared with SSE.

August: All of Iresa's 90,000 customers were transferred to Octopus Energy after the smaller supplier went bust. Octopus Energy was appointed as the 'supplier of last resort' in a competitive process run by Ofgem.

June: Octopus Energy revealed it would raise prices for customers on its flexible Octopus variable tariff from 7 August. The 2.6% average increase added £24 to customers’ bills, on average, per year.

February: Octopus announced that its Agile Octopus smart tracker tariff would occasionally pay customers to use energy in times of particularly low demand. The tariff’s prices change every half hour, so customers can choose when to use electricity based on its cost.

Octopus Energy said if you’re able to use most of your electricity outside of peak times (4-7pm), this tariff would be cheaper than its fixed deals.

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