Best energy suppliers 2021

Candiece Cyrus
·6-min read
 (Pexels)
(Pexels)

Energy bills take a big bite out of household budgets, which is why it’s so important to find the cheapest deal you can without compromising on customer service and overall quality.

Switching energy providers is a straightforward process, but it can be a little daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the UK energy market (research undertaken in March 2021) and identified those who we think are the best suppliers.

Our star ratings are determined solely by our editorial team with reference to a range of criteria. See Methodology for more information.

green. energy
green. energy

Green. - 4/5 stars

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Advice & Support: 2/5

Green Tariffs: Yes

Why we picked it

Green. stands out for its customer service, making it our overall winner. It rarely receives complaints and provides a range of digital tools on its website to help customers manage their energy.

Pros

  • Prompt customer service

  • Accurate billing

Cons

  • Limited bill information online

  • Sparse information on energy efficiency

Octopus Energy
Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy - 4/5 stars

Customer Satisfaction: 4/5

Advice & Support: 3/5

Green Tariffs: Yes

Why we picked it

Octopus Energy provides prompt customer service and accurate billing. It does not charge exit fees on its fixed term tariffs.

Pros

  • Excellent customer service

  • High degree of bill accuracy

Cons

  • Few digital tools

  • Few green tariffs

EDF Energy
EDF Energy

EDF - 4/5 stars

Customer Satisfaction: 4/5

Advice & Support: 4/5

Green Tariffs: Yes

Why we picked it

EDF performs well with regard to advising on energy efficiency and providing good customer service online. It also benefits from receiving a low number of complaints.

Pros

  • Swift, reactive customer service

  • Accurate billing

Cons

  • Fixed tariff exit fees

  • Limited energy saving support

British Gas
British Gas

British Gas - 4/5 stars

Customer Satisfaction: 3/5

Advice & Support: 4/5

Green Tariffs: Yes

Why we picked it

British Gas has no exit fee on its cheapest fixed tariff contract. It also performs well in the provision online service and boasts an impressive array of digital tools.

Pros

  • Rapid handling of emails

  • Good selection of digital tools

Cons

  • Long time-waiting on phone

  • Little choice of green tariffs

Scottish Power
Scottish Power

Scottish Power - 4/5 stars

Customer Satisfaction: 3/5

Advice & Support: 3/5

Green Tariffs: Yes

Why we picked it

Scottish Power provides high levels of bill accuracy and scores well for its quality of online customer service. It also offers a wide range of green tariffs.

Pros

  • High quality online service

  • Good choice of green tariffs

Cons

  • Thin provision of digital tools

  • Imposition of exit fees

Methodology

In our review of 45 energy providers we awarded points in the categories listed below using a five-point scoring system, with additional data from our energy partner, Comparison Technologies. We also used data the firms are required to give to Citizens Advice (this is from the third quarter of 2020, the most recent).

Some companies have fewer than 25,000 customers and so are not obliged to provide the data to Citizens Advice. Where this was the case, firms were awarded a score averaged from the total points gained in that category by all other providers.

We applied the same methodology to companies operating under another company’s licence and whose data is indistinguishable from the parent company.

Bill accuracy & clarity

We referenced the percentage of a firm’s customers who received an accurate bill in the previous year. We also scrutinised firms’ websites, awarding points for help provided in understanding bills.

Customer service (telephone)

We awarded points based on Citizens Advice’s scoring of call-waiting times in seconds.

Customer service (online)

We awarded points based on Citizens Advices’ scoring of the percentage of emails to which companies responded within 2 days. The companies responding to the most emails within 2 days gained the most points.

Complaints

We awarded points based on Citizens Advice’s scoring of data relating to the number of complaints per 10,000 customers.

Digital tools

We awarded points based on the provision of tools and information designed to help customers manage their energy usage.

Cheapest tariffs

We awarded points to each company based on the cost of their cheapest fixed tariff and the cost of their cheapest standard variable rate tariff.

Green tariffs

We awarded points on the basis of the number of green tariffs offered.

Exit fees

We awarded points based on companies charging low or no exit fees to customers leaving a fixed rate tariff before the end of the term.

Advice

We awarded points based on the amount and quality of advice given to customers looking to reduce their energy usage..

Each company’s overall score is based on its performance across all data points. This score has been used to provide an equivalent ES Money rating out of five stars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I switch my energy supplier?

Easy - to save money. Oh, and you might be looking for better customer service. And possibly want a greener energy supply than your current supplier can offer.

You can find out if there’s money to be saved by running an energy quotation. If you’ve never switched supplier or haven’t switched in two years or more, it’s highly likely you’ll be on a standard variable rate ‘default’ tariff. These tend to be the most expensive deals out there, and you’ll almost certainly find a fixed rate tariff that will cost you less.

If you’re on a fixed rate tariff already, it’s still worth checking because new deals come onto the market all the time. Just make sure you don’t incur exit fees if you leave your fixed rate deal early, unless you can save more than they cost by switching.

Running a quote will also give you an idea of what’s available in terms of green energy tariffs, where the energy is produced in an environmentally-friendly manner.

What happens when I switch energy supplier?

Surprisingly little! You get the same gas and electricity through the same pipes and wires, no-one will need to carry out any work at your property, and there will be no interruption to your supply. You’ll simply start getting your (smaller!) bills from a different company. The whole process should take no more than 21 days.

The only exception to this is if you have smart energy meters fitted at the same time as you switch. Every home in the UK will be offered these meters by 2025, and switching supplier can be a good time to have them fitted (provided you want them).

An engineer will come to your home to make the physical meter swap, which should take no more than a couple of hours for both gas and electricity units. He or she may need to shut off the power supply as part of the job.

Can I switch to green energy?

Yes - it’s just a matter of finding an energy tariff that relies on energy produced in a sustainable way, with a minimal carbon footprint. Here we’re talking about wind, solar, wave and other green energy sources.

Having a green tariff doesn’t make any difference to the electricity and gas that comes into your home - you don’t need any special equipment. In fact, you’re getting the same energy as everyone else. But you know that your energy supplier will feed green energy into the National Grid to match what you use. The more people on green tariffs, the greener the grid becomes.

And you don’t need to worry that green energy comes at a premium price. There are many competitive green tariffs on the market that make this a realistic option for most people.