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7 May 2021

Utilita

Utilita specialises in pay-as-you-go (PAYG) prepayment smart meters and claims it’s the ‘smart energy expert’. Is Utilita the right supplier for you?
Utilita logo 470946
SI
Sarah Ingrams

Utilita says it gives customers ‘total control’ over their energy, and has been installing smart prepayment meters since 2008. Now, 90% of its customers have smart meters.

Thanks to its smart-metering technology, Utilita’s customers can top up online, by mobile app and text, as well as over the phone or at a PayPoint outlet.

Set up in 2003, Utilita now has around 800,000 customers, many of which the company says have joined through word of mouth. Utilita claims it can save you money and says it's one of the only suppliers with no standing charge, so if you don't use any energy you don't pay anything.

It has opened ‘energy hubs’ in Derby, Edinburgh, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton and West Bromwich, where customers can top up, and get energy efficiency advice and help from staff, face to face. 

Utilita Extra offers customers competitions and prize draws to win vouchers and tickets to events.

Utilita recently launched Utilita Mobile which offers Sim-only, pay-monthly deals.

In September 2019, it took on Eversmart Energy's 29,000 customers after the smaller firm stopped trading. Utilita also acquired failed supplier Our Power's 31,000 customers in January 2019.

Tempted by Utilita? Find out if you could save money by comparing gas and electricity deals with Which? Switch – our independent energy comparison site.

Utilita customer score

Utilita came joint 12th out of 25 energy companies rated by 7,460 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. It ranked jointly with Green Energy UK.

They have always been helpful and sorted any problems.

Utilita customer

I have only had to call Utilita once and my query was dealt with very efficiently.

Utilita customer

Utilita score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey.

Find out how Utilita compares with other energy companies – see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Utilita

Customers were most satisfied with the accuracy of Utilita's bills, rating it four stars out of five. Since customers pay in advance for their gas and electricity, this indicates they feel that what they use matches what they pay for.

They were reasonably happy with the clarity of its bills, its customer service and how well it deals with complaints, awarding it a middling three stars for these measures. 

Its average rating for complaints handling is at odds with data from the energy regulator Ofgem, though, which shows that Utilita only resolved 31% of complaints within two days in the first half of last year. Although this was not the worst among the companies in our survey, it's well below the average of 54%. The best companies managed to solve 90% or more of the complaints they received in the same time period.

The My Utilita app lets customers see their balance, bills and payment history, and submit meter readings and change their details. Customers with smart meters can also apply for Power Up – a top-up when you’ve run out of credit.

Value for money also received a ‘fair’ three-star rating from customers in our survey.

Utilita has different tariffs depending on whether or not you have a smart meter. Its tariffs have two unit rates, rather than a unit rate and standing charge like many tariffs from other suppliers. You pay a higher unit rate for the first two kilowatt hours of energy used per day, then a lower one thereafter.

In our snapshot investigation into energy companies' customer waiting times in September 2020, a human picked up the phone after an average of 4 minutes 31 seconds, which was better than the median average of all 31 providers we called (5 minutes 57 seconds).

I can always budget for what my bill will be and it's always what I estimate it to be.

Utilita customer

I know I can get cheaper deals elsewhere.

Utilita customer

In last year's investigation, Utilita's live chat wasn't available on 11 of the 12 occasions we tried. But this year it was only not available twice. And the query was responded to in 2 minutes 29 seconds, on average.

Pros: Bills are accurate, according to customers

Cons: Ofgem data shows it is slow to resolve complaints

Can I join Utilita with a prepayment meter?

Yes. Utilita says it specialises in supplying customers with prepayment meters. You can also join it and pay by direct debit.

Utilita electricity sources

Utilita in the news

Utilita in 2021

January: Energy regulator Ofgem decided not to impose a final order on Utilita, banning it from taking on new customers if it didn't meet smart meter targets, owing to the national lockdown restrictions. Utilita has committed to do its best to deliver against its smart meter plan. Ofgem says it will keep its progress under review.

Utilita in 2020

November: Energy regulator Ofgem said Utilita continued to install first-generation smart meters, which can stop being smart when you switch, even though suppliers must 'take all reasonable steps' to install second-generation ones. It has to install 15,000 second-generation meters by 31 July 2021 or it will be banned from taking on new customers. 

October: Utilita overcharged almost 40,000 customers, energy regulator Ofgem revealed.

Affected customers have been refunded and Utilita will pay an extra £500,000 in redress. All overcharged customers will get £10 as a goodwill payment, rising to £15 if you're on the Priority Services Register. 900 customers who applied unsuccessfully to Utilita's Warm Home Discount fund will receive £140.

Utilita reported itself to Ofgem when it found that it had overcharged prepayment customers last year. Overall, customers paid more than £120,000 on top of what they should have, according to the energy price cap. 

Energy suppliers must not charge prepayment customers more than the price cap permits. Ofgem found that Utilita had overcharged some customers between July 2018 and September 2019. 

Utilita in 2019

September: Utilita took on 29,000 customers from Eversmart Energy after the smaller firm stopped trading.

July: Utilita customers may have missed out on £30,000 of savings on energy bills because the firm failed to meet its carbon emission reduction obligations, Ofgem announced.

Utilita didn't meet its targets to reduce carbon emissions for vulnerable households in rural areas and to insulate homes with solid walls between 2015 and 2018. It had to pay £175,000 into a redress fund and give the regulator more frequent updates in future.

Utilita said it over-delivered against some obligations and under-delivered against others.

January: Utilita took on 31,000 customers from Our Power after the smaller supplier stopped trading. It promised to improve customer service standards.

Don't put up with high bills and poor customer service. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.


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