Northern Ireland electricity and gas
Our annual energy companies survey brings you results for six of the seven Northern Ireland electricity and gas suppliers.
You can find out what customers of Budget Energy, Electric Ireland, Firmus Energy, Power NI and SSE Airtricity electricity and gas really think of their energy company. Then you can use our results to find the best energy company for your home.
Smaller supplier Electric Ireland achieved the highest customer score this year, though there was little to differentiate between firms' scores.
The biggest electricity firm, Power NI ranks third. Around 56% of electricity customers in Northern Ireland are supplied by this company. Plus SSE Airtricity is the second-biggest electricity supplier but is the lowest-ranked supplier in our table – so is it time to switch supplier for a better service?
Best and worst Northern Ireland electricity and gas companies
We asked 852 Northern Ireland energy customers to rate their electricity and gas suppliers on their customer service, complaints handling, billing, whether they feel it’s value for money and what they think of its digital tools.
The full results are in the table below. Click each company’s name to read our expert review.
The customer score combines customers’ overall satisfaction with their likelihood to recommend, and is not directly linked to the star ratings.
Overall average customer score: 63%.
(-) indicates too few responses to give a rating.
Sample sizes: Electric Ireland (91), Budget Energy (50), Power NI (298), SSE Airtricity Gas (129), Firmus Energy (68), SSE Airtricity Electricity (191).
Survey: September 2019.
Using the Which? Northern Ireland energy survey results
Energy companies are ranked in the table above based on their customer score. This is made up of customers’ responses when we asked them how satisfied they were overall with their provider and if they would recommend it to a friend.
We've also revealed how the companies scored on specific criteria. So if great customer service or clear bills are most important to you, compare each company’s star ratings for these.
Or if getting the cheapest deal is your priority, see what other customers think of a firm’s value for money – and make sure you check its latest prices, too. You can use the to compare energy prices, and go direct to the energy company’s website to switch.
Budget Energy and Electric Ireland
Top of the table again this year are Budget Energy and Electric Ireland. Both score four stars for value for money and are the only two firms to do so, showing that customers are happier with their energy firm when they feel they’re getting a good deal.
brings up the rear this year (also for the second year running), though it is only a five percentage points behind the firms at the top of the table. This indicates that customers find little to choose between firms overall.
Indeed, the star ratings across firms for different aspects of their service are largely the same for each supplier, although Firmus Energy stands out as being the only firm rated poor for its digital tools.
Click Energy doesn’t feature in our results table this year because we didn’t receive enough responses from its customers to give it a score.
Launched in 2015, Click Energy claims to be Northern Ireland’s friendliest and most transparent electricity company and provide low cost electricity.
It’s the smallest electricity supplier, with around 4% (or 30,000) of customers. Most pay via keypad (prepayment) meter, though you can pay by monthly direct debit, too.
Along with the typical tariffs most suppliers offer, Click Energy has a rural saver tariff that is said to be designed for the Northern Ireland farmer.
Keypad customers can top up as little as £5. Pay-monthly customers can choose to pay a fixed monthly direct debit or a direct debit that varies, depending on use.
It also offers Clickbacks loyalty scheme which gives customers discounts from brands and retailers. It’s only for Click Energy customers, so you will lose your discounts if you switch supplier.
Click Energy does not have a customer score as we received too few responses about it in our survey.
Northern Ireland electricity and gas market
The regulated market in Northern Ireland provides consumers with relatively stable prices while giving them a small level of competition. Electricity prices are among the lowest in Europe, and cheaper than in the Republic of Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator.
Since the first competing supplier joined the domestic electricity market in 2010, five suppliers have challenged the incumbent Power NI and, collectively, they now have just over 40% of customers. The biggest of these is . Four of these are currently selling electricity; Open Electric went bust in 2017.
Many households in Northern Ireland don’t have mains gas. The Northern Ireland Utility Regulator plans that 60% of homes and businesses will have gas by 2022 but, at the moment, there are only two domestic gas suppliers to choose from: and .
Customers in Greater Belfast can choose between the two while customers in the Ten Towns area only have the option of Firmus Energy. In the West area, only around 500 households have a gas connection though more customers are set to be connected.
Customers in Northern Ireland are more likely to have a prepayment or keypad meter than customers in Great Britain: 45% of you do (according to the Utility Regulator), compared with 16% of GB customers.
Our survey found that the number of people switching in Northern Ireland is lower compared with the rest of the UK, although switching is on the increase.
One in five respondents in Northern Ireland who haven’t switched say they think all suppliers are the same and so there's no point in switching. But as our survey reveals, there are differences in value for money and digital tools which are worth checking if these are important to you.