Energy company reviews
By Sarah Ingrams
Article 21 of 33
Ovo Energy joined the energy market in 2009 and now has around 1.5m customers. Ovo says it set out to make energy cheaper, greener and simpler but is now focused on smart technology too.
Ovo is an independent energy company based in Bristol. It currently supplies energy to around 4% of customers in England, Scotland and Wales but is set to become the second biggest energy firm (after British Gas) when it takes on SSE’s customers.
Ovo Energy split off its pay-as-you-go, or prepayment meter, business into a separate supplier called Boost Energy. It also took on the customers of failed supplier, Spark Energy, in 2018 but maintained the separate brand.
It’s investing in smart technology and services too, including making electric storage heaters smart, creating Electric Vehicle chargers which charge your car when electricity is cheaper or in less demand, and selling home energy storage devices.
Ovo offers a small number of tariffs, all backed by 33% renewable electricity. Plus you can choose to buy 100% renewable electricity and 50% biomethane gas for £5 extra a month (scroll down to find out more about where Ovo sources its energy). It also sells a tariff specifically for electric vehicle owners which includes a free smart charger. Ovo pays between 3-5% interest on customers' credit balances.
See how Ovo Energy’s prices compare with the rest of the market by using Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity deals.
Ovo Energy customer score
Ovo Energy came sixth out of 30 energy companies rated by 7,429 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. A couple of years ago it was the top-scoring supplier.
Ovo Energy score breakdown
The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey.
Scroll down to read the full Which? verdict on Ovo Energy, plus how its prices compare with other energy suppliers.
Find out how Ovo Energy compares with other energy companies in best and worst energy companies.
Which? verdict on Ovo Energy
A couple of years ago Ovo Energy was the favourite of British energy customers. It held the top spot for two years and was the first Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) for energy.
Customers are still enthusiastic about Ovo but, this year and last year, it’s no longer the top-rated supplier.
Its online customer service is on a par with the top-scoring firms; rated an impressive full five stars by customers. Elsewhere it achieves a respectable four stars across the board. The top-scoring company managed five stars on every rating.
Customers switch to Ovo Energy for lower prices, because it’s recommended by energy experts, to get better customer service, and for its good reputation, according to our analysis of Which? energy customers satisfaction survey data. In fact, 40% of its customers said its good reputation was one of the top reasons for choosing it – far higher than the 31% average across suppliers.
The most common reason for customers switching away was fixed-rate tariffs ending, followed by prices being too high. Customers found Ovo Energy good value for money overall in our survey, though not the best.
Ovo pays between 3-5% interest to customers who keep their accounts in credit, although its tariffs are rarely the cheapest on the market.
Ovo Energy customer service
Ovo’s online customer service received the highest star rating of any aspects of its service we asked about in our survey.
Its online account was mentioned by some customers responding to our survey. Besides submitting meter readings, customers with smart meters can get a breakdown of their energy use by appliance type.
In our most recent energy customer service investigation, Ovo Energy was slightly slower than the average of 4mins and 24secs to answer the phone.
Ovo took 6mins and 7secs to put us through to a human on average. But it was far quicker than the slowest firm which took more than 21minutes on average.
Ovo had more complaints per 1,000 customers in the first half of 2018, compared with 2017 when it had among the fewest of any supplier. Its complaints levels are still fairly low though, and it says it resolves 90% on the same or next working day.
Pros: Pays interest on accounts which are in credit, good online customer service
Cons: Customer service phone lines are open fewer weekend hours than some competitors.
Ovo Energy electricity sources
Ovo Energy prices
The graph above shows how Ovo’s variable (or standard) tariff compares with its cheapest fixed tariff and the cheapest fixed tariff on the market over the past year.
In many months you were able to save money by choosing Ovo’s cheapest tariff, compared with its standard tariff. However, this wasn’t always the case: in April, May and June, Ovo’s tariffs were the same price. This is now the case again but its standard tariff is now limited by a price cap. If you were looking to save £150 or more, you would have been better off looking elsewhere, however.
Ovo Energy in the news
December: Ovo got the go-ahead from the regulator (the Competition and Markets Authority) to buy SSE’s household energy and services business.
It expects the purchase to be complete in January 2020. Until then, the two companies remain separate and customers won’t see any differences.
September: Ovo Energy is set to acquire SSE, the Big Six firm announced. The takeover is expected to be completed later this year or in early 2020. Some 3.5 million households would move to be supplied by Ovo.
February: Ovo announced a 10% price rise for customers on its standard tariff, called Simpler Energy.
If you’re one of the 160,000 customers affected, you will pay an extra £112 per year from 1 April.
November: Ovo Energy was chosen by Ofgem to take on Spark Energy’s 290,000 domestic customers, after the smaller supplier failed.
Ovo Energy also bought Spark Energy Ltd and plans to keep the Spark Energy brand. Read what you need to know if you’re a Spark Energy customer.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of Ovo said: 'We will combine OVO’s innovative technology and focus on customer experience with Spark’s unique network of partnerships to bring greater products and services to more households around the UK.'
October: Ovo Energy's second price increase for customers on its Simpler Energy variable tariff meant a 6.5% price rise, adding £75 on average to customers’ bills each year.
Ovo also scrapped its online discount, adding another £135 to the annual bill of affected customers.
It said that wholesale costs have risen by more than 15% since June and ‘as a result we’re increasing our variable plan rates and removing the online discount’.
Ovo’s Simpler Energy tariff is not currently available to new customers.
September: Energy regulator Ofgem is examining how Ovo Energy, and three other companies, deals with customer complaints. Ofgem announced this after the results of it complaints-handling survey showed some suppliers have 'unacceptably low' customer satisfaction for complaints.
June: In 2017, Ovo increased the price of its Pay As You Go (prepayment) variable energy tariff by 1.5%. In 2016, it raised prices three times, which it blamed on rising wholesale costs of gas and electricity.
April: Ovo launched the first widely available domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger. Drivers can sell surplus energy from their electric vehicle batteries back to the grid.
It also unveiled a home energy storage battery and promoted its intelligent platform, VCharge, which remotely connects and controls batteries in consumers’ homes to create a ‘virtual power plant’.
February: Ovo is being investigated by energy regulator Ofgem for the energy consumption information it gave some customers last winter. Ofgem will look into whether Ovo breached licence conditions about giving customers information about their energy use which was accurate, or based on best estimate, complete and not misleading.
October: Ovo announced it will pay electric car owners to use their vehicle's battery to buy and sell electricity from the grid. The 'vehicle-to-grid' scheme is set to launch in 2018 and Ovo says the savings would cover the cost of charging an electric car. You’ll only be eligible if you own a Nissan Leaf and you’ll need to have a special charger installed in your home.
September: Ovo split its prepayment energy business into a separate brand, called Boost. Previously called Ovo Energy Smart PAYG+, Boost lets customers top up via a smartphone app linked to a smart meter, schedule automatic top ups and track their energy use.