Cheapest Renewable Energy Supplier for 2020

dual fuel tariff information

Paying hand over fist for your gas and electricity is so last year. When picking a new green energy provider check their customer service ratings as well as their tariff pricing. These two criteria are what will decide if the company is a pleasure or a hassle to be with, aside from how cheap it is.


With the worsening climate crisis, whether a supplier uses green energy or not is quickly becoming a top priority for British households who are shopping around for a cheaper gas and electricity company. Aside from trying to use less energy, switching to a greener supplier is bound to have a significant impact on your carbon emissions and your wallet.

There are numerous energy suppliers, both renewable and conventional, available to UK households. Telling them apart to find the right one for your home with the best savings can be an increasingly overwhelming exercise. For this reason, we have put together an updated list of recommendations, so you can pick the best renewable supplier with lowest prices as you go into the new year.


Is Renewable Energy Expensive?

In this day and age, renewable energy no longer means higher than average monthly bills. In the past, when renewable generators were less common, this may have been the case. However, the days where fossil fuel-derived energy, “brown” or “dirty” power, beat renewables on price are essentially over. With entire weeks going without coal power being needed by the national grid, green electricity provides better value for money and helps keep carbon footprints down.

The bottom line is that renewable electricity is, for all intents and purposes, as cheap as fossil fuel-powered electricity. Let’s take a look at why that is.

Recent trends indicate that we are well on our way to making renewable energy as cheap as, if not cheaper than, fossil fuels.

Wind power can now cost an average of between 0.03p and 0.05p per kWh in the wholesale electricity market, significantly cheaper than fossil fuels which are coming in at between 0.05p and 0.13p per kWh. Worldwide the cost of renewables is now becoming as or more competitive than the price of fossil fuel-generated electrical power.

costs of fossil fuels and renewables

Government initiatives, such as the Feed-in Tariff, have popularised renewable energy beyond high-level infrastructure projects and subsidies.

If you require further proof of the value for money that renewable electricity brings to the table, look no further than at the increasing number of energy companies going green. These companies are actively supporting renewable energy entrepreneurship all over the UK. They are able to do this while providing affordable prices and sustainable electricity to British households.

gas flame

Additionally, companies such as Tonik, Ovo and Octopus are moving into new technologies and making them available to their customers. Solar panels, home batteries and electric vehicle chargers are now becoming common in addition to basic green energy supply services.

At the turn of the decade, we can safely predict that renewable electricity will continue to outperform fossil fuels aggressively on price. Renewable energy auctions, where people buy and sell electricity, are a good indicator of future energy prices. All the trends point to the same outcomes, with fossil fuels increasing in cost as renewables continue dropping in price.

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has indicated that 2017 was the UK’s greenest year ever and the UK broke 13 renewable energy records such as passing 1000 hours without using coal. Additionally, more UK electricity was produced by wind and solar sources last year than by nuclear power stations, for the first time according to the latest government figures. Renewable energy’s share of electricity generation increased to 29%, while nuclear sources only accounted for around 21%.

Now is the time to fully embrace green electricity as a reality in British residential energy. Switching to a truly green supplier is an easy and painless way to make a difference when it comes to the environment. It’s clear that old attitudes and expectations about green energy tariffs no longer apply. Let’s now turn our attention to the most affordable British energy companies who are easing Britain through the energy transition.


The cheapest renewable energy suppliers on the market

Here at The Switch, we follow green energy providers very closely, especially in terms of affordability and customer service quality.

To give you an idea of who the most cost-effective UK renewable energy providers at the moment, we whittled them down to the top seven cheapest green energy companies.

Let’s take a look and compare the top green energy contenders as we start the new decade.

Pure Planet logo

Pure Planet is a recent energy company which has been making waves with their app-only business model. Naturally, they have 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon offset gas. They offer only one variable tariff like Bulb who have lost their competitive edge this year. Pure Planet claims to have a 0% markup on their unit prices.

 

So Energy logo

So Energy has seen solid growth over the past five years. They aim to provide good value, decent service and green electricity from small British generators, promoting the UK energy transition further.

 

Octopus Energy logo
Octopus Energy recently signed up its one-millionth customer, clearly demonstrating their rapid growth within the green sector. Octopus continues to heavily involved in UK solar energy but is also branching out into biomass energy and wind power. They have the distinction of having been awarded the “Recommended Supplier” prize two years in a row by Which?

 

british gas
British Gas makes a surprising entry on this list purely because of their Energy Plus Protection Dec 2020, an exclusive green tariff exclusively available through Selectra’s online energy comparison. While British Gas has middling service, they are Big Six company which means that they are very well established.

 

eon energy
Eon is another surprising Big Six entrant in the green energy space since recently moving exclusively to 100% sustainable electricity across all their convoluted tariffs. While they do get green points for taking the initiative on cutting fossil fuels from their tariffs, their customer service record is not necessarily the strongest.

 

tonik energy
Tonik Energy has some fairly affordable renewable electricity tariffs. They are also making renewable energy technology available to customers to help them save money on their monthly bills while helping the environment.

 

What about Outfox the Market, People’s Energy or Green. Tariffs?There is no denying that they do show up as bottom of the barrel in terms of price but in many cases also in terms of customer service. Outfox the Market, for example, has been ranked as one of the worst providers in the UK. Meanwhile, So Energy, Octopus Energy and EDF Energy ranked in the Top 5. Here at the Switch, we believe that the small difference in yearly savings is not worth the potential billing headaches and customer service hassles of going with a less proven supplier. Nevertheless, we will refer to them below in relevant award categories.


Finding cheap green energy tips

Renewable Energy Suppliers

There are seemingly dozens of gas and electricity suppliers coming on the scene every year. While Ofgem is tightening regulations as to who can operate as an energy supplier, there has been a string of high profile collapses that have left residential customers wondering if switching to a new supplier is safe or if they’re going to be left in the lurch when another fledgeling company goes bust. How can you tell them apart?

Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR)

When pitting energy tariffs against each other, the tariff comparison rate or TCR is a great way to clearly see which one provides greater value for money.

Energy bill TCR

The TCR is a number which shows how much a tariff will cost for a typical customer. It works a little bit like the APR on credit cards by assuming the average energy usage, standing charges and discounts and then represents what this actually means for the customer either in pence per kWh or pounds per year.

All companies are supposed to provide the TCR for each tariff, so you can clearly see a breakdown in terms of kWh unit rate and daily standing charge. However, companies don’t always make this key information available at a glance. Moral of the story: Be prepared to hunt around when looking at tariff information online.

To figure out if one tariff is cheaper than another you can compare the TCR of one company to another.

You should always be able to find the TCR for your company on your bills, annual statements or letters from your supplier. The company which has the lowest of the two numbers will be the cheapest supplier.

The dangers of comparison websites

Many customers turn to comparison websites to work out which is the cheapest supplier. Although they can find you some cheap deals they sometimes aren’t completely honest with consumers.

 

Energy comparison websites often work by getting a commission from specific suppliers wanting to get more prominent positioning in order to get more customers. This means that they may hide certain tariffs, preventing you from easily finding the cheapest electricity or gas.

 

This becomes even more complicated when you are trying to compare only green energy suppliers as there is currently no online comparison site which deals exclusively with green energy. However, online energy comparison sites should have the option to filter deals so you can only see tariffs with only green electricity.

 

The fact of the matter is that online comparison can be convenient if you don’t want to call an energy advice service. Here at TheSwitch, we recommend that you check out either Citizens Advice Bureau or Selectra for your online energy comparison needs.


Which green energy suppliers have the cheapest fixed tariffs?

The first kind of tariffs that we compared were fixed tariffs which are usually the best value deals in the long run when compared to variable tariffs over the course of a year.

In fact, there are many misconceptions about what a fixed tariff actually is. It’s true that the name is confusing, leading many customers to believe that because they are on a fixed tariff their bill will be the same every month.

green electricity

However, this is not the case. A fixed-rate doesn’t mean it’s an all you can eat buffet. Your bill will increase or decrease depending on your energy use. It’s just that the unit rate and standing charges stay the same for the period you’re on that fixed tariff. Sadly you don’t have the free reign to take as many hot showers as you can.

The advantages of a fixed tariff are that you know your energy prices per kWh and your standing charges are going to stay the same for the period of your contract. Remember, this DOES NOT mean that your bills will stay the same every month no matter how much energy you use.

Historically, the disadvantage of a fixed tariff was that you were “trapped” in the tariff for the period of your contract by “exit fees” if you found a better deal elsewhere.

Exit fees mean that to leave your contract you would have to pay a penalty - typically about £30 to £50. While many of the bigger energy suppliers such as SSE, Npower and Scottish Power still have exit fees on the majority of their fixed tariffs, newer small suppliers like those on our list have ditched the exit fees. In fact, even larger suppliers like EDF Energy are willing to waive fees for certain justifiable reasons such as moving.

This is good news for customers as it means that it's easier to switch suppliers if you can find a better deal. It is also a sign of good faith from the suppliers as they are committing to try to keep their customers with good customer service and cheap prices instead of punitive measures.

The Cheapest Renewable Energy Supplier with the Cheapest Fixed Tariff Prices (with exit fees)

Let’s see what makes these tariffs the cheapest currently on the UK residential energy market.

Cheapest fixed tariffs with exit fees
Company Electricity unit price Electricity standing charge Gas unit price Gas standing charge
People's Energy 12.558p/kWh 22.26p per day 2.383p/kWh 22.26p per day
Green. 11.795p/kWh 15p per day 3.3p/kWh 10p per day
Outfox the Market 14.146p/kWh 11.07 per day 3.033p/kWh 5.25p per day

 

As you can see the cheapest fixed tariffs for dual fuel customers are as follows:

 

  1. People's Energy 2 Months Upfront Winter19 Tariff v2
  2. Green. Volta
  3. Outfox the Market FIX'D 19 5.0

Comparison: Estimated cost for an average household

To give you a better idea of what these tariffs would look like for real customers, we calculated the following quotes for an average household in the South West paying with monthly direct debit.

This is what yearly green energy costs look like for an average UK home on the three cheapest tariffs. What is striking is all these tariffs are based around renewable electricity, yet they handily beat many others who are not and would happily charge UK households well north of £1000 for exactly the same amounts of energy.

1st People’s Energy (cheapest)

  • Upfront Winter19 v2
  • Gas + electric
  • £69.83 per month
  • £838 per year

2nd Green.

  • Volta
  • Gas + electric
  • £71.08 per month
  • £853 per year

3rd Outfox the Market

  • FIX'D 19 5.0
  • Gas + electric
  • £71.83 per month
  • £862 per year

The Cheapest Renewable Energy Supplier with the Cheapest Fixed Tariff Prices (without exit fees)

While the above tariffs and companies are the cheapest when it comes to fixed-rate green electricity tariffs, that’s not necessarily the whole story.

The two cheapest tariffs so far, from People’s Energy and Green, both have exit fees as high as £36 for each fuel. This means that if you were getting gas and electricity from the same supplier and wanted to switch to a different company before a year had passed, you might end up paying up to £72 for the privilege. Pretty shocking, right?

There are fixed rate tariffs on the market that give you the best of both worlds: the peace of mind that comes from locked unit rates and standing charges but without the punitive exit fees.

Let’s take a look now at the cheapest green fixed-rate tariffs without exit fees.

Cheapest fixed tariffs without exit fees
Company Electricity unit price Electricity standing charge Gas unit price Gas standing charge
Outfox the Market 14.146p/kWh 11.07p per day 3.033p/kWh 5.25p per day
Octopus Energy 14.238p/kWh 18.81p per day 2.9p/kWh 10p per day
Tonik Energy 15.372p/kWh 23.31p per day 3.224p/kWh 20.93p per day

 

If we narrow down available tariffs to those without exit fees, the top 3 cheapest green tariffs ranking changes quite a bit.

 

  1. Outfox the Market FIX'D 19 5.0
  2. Octopus Energy uSwitch Octopus 12M Fixed
  3. Tonik Energy Go Green (1 Year) v23

These three tariffs have everything needed for a year’s worth of hassle free green energy and they still come in under the magic £1000 a year mark for average energy use figures. It’s also worth noting that this is the second year running where Tonik and Octopus have made it into these cheap rankings without compromising their strong customer service ratings.

Comparison: Estimated cost for an average household

To compare these exit fee-free tariffs with their exit fee toting counterparts above, we, once more, calculated the following quotes for an average household in the South West paying with monthly direct debit.

You’ll be able to find both estimated monthly and yearly energy costs based on nationwide energy use averages.

1st Outfox the Market (cheapest)

  • FIX'D 19 5.0
  • Gas + electric
  • £71.83 per month
  • £862 per year

2nd Octopus Energy

  • uSwitch 12M Fixed
  • Gas + electric
  • £76.75 per month
  • £921 per year

3rd Tonik Energy

  • Go Green v23
  • Gas + electric
  • £82.08 per month
  • £985 per year

Before going with the cheapest green energy tariff in our rankings, it’s worth checking what customers think about their respective companies and how well they deal with complaints. Paying a few pounds more a month might be worth it toavoid billing issues and switching hassles.


The Renewable Energy Supplier with the Cheapest Variable Tariffs

We’ve talked a bit about the benefits and disadvantages of fixed tariffs, but what about variable tariffs? In the past, variable tariffs were almost always thought of as the most expensive types of tariffs.

This was primarily because many companies have a standard variable tariff that customers default to once their fixed rate tariff is over. These standard variable tariffs, also sometimes sneakily known as evergreen tariffs, are consistently the most expensive on the market.

However, the core idea behind variable tariffs is that they have no exit fees from the get go, making it much easier to jump from one provider to another. While fixed tariffs are great if you just want to set and forget your energy supply for a year, variable tariffs can potentially net you greater savings if you keep a close eye on unit rates and standing charges from one month to the next.

While wholesale energy prices change minute by minute like the stock market, variable tariff rates can change from month to month. Generally, they will change on a seasonal basis with unit rates going up in winter and coming down during the warmer months. However, political and economic factors can also affect variable tariffs to a certain degree.

Let’s take a look at who is ruling the roost when it comes to variable green tariffs in the UK. Bear in mind, however, that these figures are subject to change from one month to the next.

The Cheapest Green Variable Tariffs

Rather unsurprisingly, variable rate tariffs come off as more expensive since winter is about to start.

Cheapest variable tariffs
Company Electricity unit price Electricity standing charge Gas unit price Gas standing charge
Outfox the Market 14.287p/kWh 9.81p per day 3.063p/kWh 3.78p per day
Green. 11.795p per kWh 15p per day 3.369p per kWh 10p per day
Pure Planet 14.018p/kWh 26.30p per day 3.171p/kWh 26.30p per day

The winning tariffs in the green variable tariff world are as follows:

  1. One Variable 8.0 by Outfox the Market
  2. Oak by Green
  3. 100% Green by Pure Planet

Comparison: Estimated cost for an average household

To get a clearer picture on how affordable one variable tariff is against another, you can find the following average quotes calculated based on OFGEM energy consumption statistics for an average household in the South West of England.

We’ve put both monthly and yearly energy costs based on the same calculations so you can compare easily with your current energy tariff.

1st Outfox the Market (cheapest)

  • One Variable 8.0
  • Gas + electric
  • £71.75 per month
  • £861 per year

2nd Green.

  • Oak
  • Gas + electric
  • £71.83 per month
  • £862 per year

3rd Tonik Energy

  • 100% Green
  • Gas + electric
  • £81.50 per month
  • £978 per year

Who are the Cheapest Renewable Energy Suppliers Overall?

It all depends on what you’re looking for in your energy tariff. Based on the provider’s size, you may find they may have one or more green tariffs that are aimed at different types of energy consumer. We have curated a list of the cheapest green tariffs depending on common residential household needs.

1. Cheapest Fixed Rate Tariff Bar None

People's Energy 2Months Upfront Winter19 Tariff v2

People’s Energy has the cheapest fixed tariff bar none. Their natural gas unit rate is noticeably low coming in way below the 3p per kWh average that most suppliers hover around. It’s worth noting that natural gas is not a renewable energy source so if you want to account for its impact on the environment you should look into carbon offsetting.

This tariff has a cancellation fee of £30 for each of the energy sources. This means that if you are getting both gas and electricity from People’s Energy and want to switch outside of the cooling off periods you may very well be slapped with a £60 fee.

2. Cheapest Fixed Rate Tariff Bar Without Exit Fees

Outfox the Market FIX'D 19 5.0

Outfox the Market is another low cost provider with a fairly eventful history including having to announce that they were not going bust in order to quell rumours brought about by poor customer service. In fact, Which? ranked Outfox The Market as one of the worst energy providers in the UK in terms of customer service.

Before jumping into the cheapest deal, you should be aware that successfully dealing with billing issues and the switching procedure is entirely dependent on a supplier’s customer service operation. The Energy Ombudsman can only get involved after eight weeks once the supplier has given you a deadlock letter. Until then, you are entirely at the mercy of customer service agents

3. Cheapest Fixed Rate Tariff For Peace of Mind

Octopus Energy uSwitch Octopus 12M Fixed

If you’re looking for peace of mind and green energy then Octopus Energy and this exclusive tariff might be the deal for you. For about a fiver more a month (based on average energy consumption figures), you get a British energy company that is Top 5 ranked for customer service by Which?.

Additionally this tariff doesn’t have those pesky exit fees either. This is very much something you can set and forget for the coming year. Octopus also has well-designed online tools so you can make any necessary changes with the least amount of hassle possible.

4. Cheapest Variable Rate Tariff For Nomads and Adventurers

One Variable 8.0 by Outfox the Market

Currently, the cheapest renewable variable tariff is being offered by Outfox the Market. However, during certain times of the year the price of variable tariffs is going to seem higher than comparable fixed tariff monthly amounts because rates can change every month.

If you move home often or keeping an eye on the energy market is a hobby of yours, then you might be tempted to stray from the relative safety of fixed tariffs in order to navigate the jungle of variable rate tariffs. You need to keep an eye out for unit rate and standing charge increases in order to avoid being caught out by price rises.

Your provider should notify you ahead of time regarding any variable rate changes but you must check your mailbox or spam folder to make sure you’re always in the loop.


What about Smart Meter-only tariffs?

As the UK moves ever closer to a fully integrated smart meter energy future, comparing energy tariffs based on their unit rates and standing charges may well become a thing of the past.

Smart meters can send out energy use information from millions of homes back to the providers on a daily basis, unlike the monthly meter readings we know and love. This has given rise to the possibility of ultra-variable tariffs where the price of energy changes multiple times within a given day, depending on demand and supply.

Octopus Energy is actually an early entrant in this somewhat dystopian energy future. Their Agile tariff requires eligible households to have a compatible smart meter. It’s worth noting that this is essentially Economy 7 on steroids, meaning that the Agile tariff is only available for electricity and not gas.

The following graph demonstrates how it varies throughout the day. Let’s see what the different lines mean:

  • The pink dotted line represents an average electricity unit price.
  • The solid pink line represents the changing unit price of Octopus Agile.
  • The light solid blue line represents electricity use throughout the UK.

Conversely, let’s understand what the numbers on the sides are:

  • The pink numbers on the right represent the price of a unit of electricity in pence.
  • The blue numbers to the left represent electricity use in the UK.
  • The grey numbers along the top are times of day.
octopus agile tariff graph

While the regular electricity tariff keeps the price of electricity at about 17p per kWh the same throughout the day, the Agile tariff is all over the place depending on the time of day.

Between 9pm and 1pm the next day, Octopus Agile prices its electricity between 5p and 10p cheaper per kWh than most of its competition. However, during the evening, you are in for a rude awakening because Octopus will almost double the price of electricity when compared to its most expensive competitor. Meaning you better watch out if you need to brew a cuppa or take a hot shower. In any case, it’s worth noting that is unique electricity tariff relies solely on renewable energy.

At the moment, Uber-like energy tariffs like this one are are a rarity. However, if these early experiments turn out to be a success, expect to see more energy suppliers to jump on board. When that happens, it’s not just unit rates that will matter but also how much energy providers raise or lower their base rate as well as for how long during the day. It will be a brave new green energy world for sure.

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