Small energy companies
By Sarah Ingrams
Article 17 of 20
Utilita is a medium-sized energy supplier which specialises in Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) prepayment smart meters. Is Utilita the right supplier for you?
Established in 2003, Utilita has been installing PAYG prepayment smart meters for over 10 years. Thanks to smart meter technology, Utilita's customers have several options for topping up their meters: at a PayPoint outlet, online, over the phone, by mobile phone app or text message.
Utilita aims to maintain the price of its Smart Energy tariff against the Big Six energy suppliers' prepayment tariffs. In September 2017, it had 550,000 customers.
You can find out how Utilita's prices compare with your current deal - find the cheapest gas and electricity with Which? Switch now.
Utilita customer satisfaction
Utilita came seventh out of 23 energy companies rated by 8,917 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey - the biggest of its kind.
‘I was given a smart meter and explained everything fully so i could monitor and manage it sufficiently’
The table below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey.
|Utilita survey results|
|Area of performance||Star rating|
|Customer service and complaints handling|
|Value for money|
|Bills (accuracy and clarity)|
|Helping you to save energy|
(Survey: October 2016, responses of 50 Utilita customers.)
Find out how Utilita compares with other energy companies - click to see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.
Which? verdict on Utilita
Utilita equals the top-scoring energy companies for helping customers save energy and being value for money, according to its customers. Although they aren’t quite as positive about its customer service or the accuracy and clarity of its bills.
One customer told us their bill ‘has always been correct’ and another said that ‘we only get one a year to state how much we have used and paid and an estimate for the next year.’
A customer described a 'lack of politeness' in their experience with Utilita's customer services.
Utilita has four main tariffs: its flagship tariff Smart Energy (which has unit rates which reduce after you’ve used a certain amount of electricity and gas each month), its basic tariff Premium Energy, Premium E7 for those on Economy 7, and Smart E7 for anyone on Economy 7 and that wants a smart meter. Its Premium tariffs are pricier but don’t require you to have a smart meter.
In our undercover snapshot investigation into energy companies customer waiting times, Utilita was the fastest to respond to our live chat messages. It took just four seconds on average for us to get a human response. But it was also the worst for its live chat being available, on less than a third of the occasions we tried to use it.
When we phoned its customer services, it took 1m31s on average to pick up the phone, which compared well with other energy companies.
Pros: In the second quarter of last year, Utilita resolved 86% of its complaints on the same or next working day; the highest resolution rate of suppliers in our survey.
Cons: Its competitively priced tariff is only available to customers with a smart meter - so if customers don’t have one or want one, they can’t choose a competitively-priced option.
Utilita fuel mix
Where Utilita gets its fuel:
- 19% Coal
- 33% Natural Gas
- 13% Nuclear
- 28% Renewables
- 7% Other
(Note: This information was correct January 2017.)
Utilita in the news
September: Utilita announced a price cut, reducing the average dual fuel customer’s bill by 1.8% (or £19.17 per year). Plus it promised to freeze its prices ‘until at least 1 April 2018’.
April: Utilita increased its electricity prices and cut its gas prices. It blamed rising wholesale electricity prices, the government’s prepayment price cap and the cost of government schemes. Customers on Utilita’s Smart Energy Pay As You Go, with dual fuel, will see a £30 (2.9%) annual increase in their bill. Electricity-only customers will see a £44 increase, but gas-only customers a £14 cut.
In January Utilita announced a 3.5% cut to its gas prices. This was followed by another announcement in March that it would be cutting its gas prices by a further 5.7%, with effect from 1 April. These two cuts would reduce its customers' average gas bill by £55 a year, according to Utilita.
The regulator Ofgem investigated Utilita and announced on 14 October that it found Utilita had wrongly blocked 40,000 customers from switching between June 2010 and May 2015.
Utilita was asked to pay £450,000 to StepChange, a debt charity, and to refund £110,000 to customers who lost financially after being stopped from switching.
Don't put up with high bills and poor customer service. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.