UK Energy suppliers: green providers and Big Six

Better Energy aims to provide a simple, uncomplicated service to its customers. Its tariffs are generally good value for money and are among some of the cheaper deals available. Find out about Better Energy’s tariff prices, reviews and customer service contact.

Bristol Energy was started by Bristol City Council. It aims to supply affordable energy across the UK, while its profits go back into its local community. If the sound of supporting a community by paying your energy bills appeals to you, Bristol Energy could be the answer.

With its origins back in the early nineteenth century, British Gas is still the UK’s largest and best-known energy provider. It supplies gas and electricity to over 12 million customers and commands a share of about 20% of the electricity market. Is it still the best choice today?

Bulb Energy is a startup based in London and aims to provide green energy without the premiums. A full 100% of its electricity and 10% of its gas come from independent green energy generators in the UK. The company has grown dramatically in recent years and currently supplies over 850,000 homes in the UK. If you’re looking for an ethical company that values customer service, transparent tariffs and which is concerned about the environment, then Bulb Energy might be a good choice.

Coop Energy claims to be a different type of electricity and gas supplier. Unlike other UK energy companies, Coop (also known as Cooperative Energy) is part of a larger Cooperative, meaning the company is owned by coop members, rather than large foreign corporations like most Big Six companies. But is Coop Energy really revolutionary or just one more big energy supplier? We’re delving into the supplier’s history, services offered, fuel mix, prices and more to find out.

Looking for a simple gas tariff? Daligas - one of the UK’s gas only energy suppliers - offers two straightforward gas tariffs, one for domestic customers and one for business customers. Read on for customer reviews, login details, tariff information and more to see if it’s the right gas supplier for you.

Ebico is not a well-known name in the UK energy market, but if you want a supplier with a social conscience, it could be the one for you. A not-for-profit provider working hard to help those who struggle to pay their energy bills - whilst also offering 100% green electricity - Ebico is a small energy supplier with big ambitions. Read on to learn more.

Ecotricity is the world’s first green energy company. Founded in 1996 with just a single windmill, it now supplies green gas and electricity to around 200,000 homes in the UK. What’s it offering on the market that makes Ecotricity so popular? Find out what that is and how to get a piece of the good green stuff.

With a base of around five million customers, EDF Energy is one of the UK’s biggest energy providers. It is a French-owned company which entered the market in 2002 by acquiring several formerly state-owned electricity boards and power stations. However, in an increasingly competitive market with more and more green options, can it continue to hold its weight?

German-owned Eon entered the UK energy market almost twenty years ago with the acquisition of Powergen - a familiar name to this day. It has established itself as one of the country’s major providers, with over four million customers, but is it worth switching to?

Ecotricity is the world’s first green energy company. Founded in 1996 with just a single windmill, it now supplies green gas and electricity to around 200,000 homes in the UK. What’s it offering on the market that makes Ecotricity so popular? Find out what that is and how to get a piece of the good green stuff.

Flow Energy UK was a gas and electricity company based in Ipswich that supplied energy to households across the UK. In 2018 it was bought by Co-op Energy, but tariffs continued to be sold under the Flow Energy name. However, in 2019 Octopus Energy acquired all Flow Energy customers and the supplier stopped trading. Read on for more details on the former provider and information on what happens now for customers.

GnERGY Limited has ceased trading as of 18 March 2020. Customers will be moved to Bulb Energy, as appointed by the energy regulator Ofgem. Find out what will happen to customer supplies, accounts and tariffs in our Bulb handover FAQs.

Good Energy has a history of pioneering green-first approaches to energy sourcing and supply, being the first to provide 100% renewable energy. Find out more about the supplier, its latest prices and tariffs, account management services, and reviews, all here in this guide.

Green Energy UK is the first energy provider to supply renewable electricity and green gas. Find out more about where it gets its fuel from, how to contact the supplier and read Green Energy UK reviews.

Green Star Energy is a newcomer in the UK energy market. It launched its service to UK residential customers in October 2013 as an expansion of its US holding company; Just Energy Group Plc. With almost 2 million customers across North America, it’s keen to build on its success in the UK, boasting its green energy tariff as “100% renewable and affordable”. But how green and how affordable is it? Customer reviews on cost and service are a mixed bag, so the question remains... Will it retain the success built in the US, or pale in comparison with its UK energy competitors?

M&S Energy partners with Octopus Energy through what's called a 'white-label' agreement to provide gas and electricity to domestic customers. The company claims to offer ‘feel-great energy’ that is affordable and 100% renewable.

Npower has been a mainstay of the UK energy industry for two decades, beginning life under the name Innogy in 2000. Operating as Npower since 2002, it was one of the country’s major suppliers in its own right until it became a subsidiary of another industry leader in 2019.

Octopus Energy started trading in 2015, and in just five years has over one million customers! As the only energy provider to be branded the Which? recommended supplier of the year two years running, it seems to be getting a lot of things right. With a wide range of tariffs, competitive prices, 100% renewable electricity, and award-winning customer service, is Octopus Energy worth switching to?

Since its launch in 2017, Outfox the Market has promised to help customers save money on their energy bills while reducing their carbon footprint. Is it worth signing up with them? Read on and you’ll be able to decide for yourself.

Launched in 2009 and with a focus on clean energy, Bristol-based Ovo Energy is the UK’s biggest independent energy supplier. After acquiring Economy Energy and SSE’s home energy business in 2019, Ovo has become the second-largest energy provider in the UK, just behind British Gas. Read on to find out what Ovo Energy can offer you.

Pure Planet Energy is a new energy company created by the team who founded Virgin Mobile. An ethical energy company which uses 100% renewable energy and 100% carbon offset gas, it is the first digital-only energy supplier in the UK. With one tariff and affordable prices, it has a 0% markup on wholesale energy prices.

Sainsbury's Energy was a partnership between Sainsbury's supermarket the second-largest supermarket chain in the UK, and British Gas. Sainsbury’s claimed that they are entering the utilities market in order to support the UK’s transition to a greener future and help customers reduce carbon emissions. It boasted that it was bringing energy back to the high street. All customers have now been transferred to British Gas.

SSE Atlantic was previously known as Scottish and Southern Energy until it was bought by SSE in 2009. SSE is the second largest provider of energy in the UK and also operates as Swalec, Scottish Hydro and Southern Electric. It is classed as one of the big six suppliers in the UK.

Scottish Power has been around for decades and is one of the most established energy providers in the UK. With a wide range of tariffs, an extensive amount of extra services and energy grants to help customers who struggle to pay their bills, the energy giant goes far beyond just offering energy deals

Based in London, So Energy is a 100% green independent energy supplier which began operating in the UK in 2015. So Energy UK believes that contrary to customers current impression, energy companies can be simple, honest and good value.

Like many of the utility companies that emerged after 1990, Southern Electric was formed from its area electricity board, ‘Southern Electricity Board’. In 1998, it merged with Scottish Hydro-Electric plc, a company in a very similar situation, to form Scottish and Southern Energy plc, now trading as the shortened, ‘SSE’. SSE are now the UK's largest producer of renewable energy, their production of which, has, however, taken a reported drop.

Spark Energy were a small independent supplier formed in 2007 to address a gap in the market for supplying tenants. They worked with top UK letting agents to try and make the process of moving into rented accomodation as simple and stress free as possible. They supplied over 350,000 homes in the UK until they closed in 2018.

SSE is one of the UK’s biggest energy suppliers. In addition to supporting renewable energy and community events, they’re known for being the best of the bunch, with lower energy prices and better service than their Big Six competitors. But do they really deserve the hype? Read on to find out.

Swalec is the South Wales Electricity board supply and distribution company that was bought by SSE in 2000 for £210m. It is now most famous for the stadium in Cardiff which carries its name

Tonik Energy is a 100% green energy supplier with a wide range of affordable tariffs. Offering reasonable prices and mountains of smart technology that can help customers cut down their energy spending, it’s a great choice for customers that want to be more sustainable while also saving money on their energy bills.

Utilita is an independent provider which specialises in prepayment tariffs. It was responsible for the installation of the UK’s first smart meter in 2008, claiming to have “helped transform the energy industry for the better” by pioneering this technology.

Looking for information about Utility Warehouse? Don’t know the Clubhouse from the Partner Portal? We can help you there, as well as providing information about reviews and tariffs. You’ll also find login help and contact numbers.

Zog Energy is an independent gas-only supplier that was founded in 2013. While its name may sound out of this world, Zog was founded by two Queens Award-winning engineers, Andrew Cleveland and Tony Chester, as a response to the bad customer service and high prices that they found in existing utility companies.

UK Energy suppliers: green providers and Big Six

The United Kingdom has a large number of energy providers that supply residential customers with gas and electricity. Below you can find the suppliers we have reviewed so far to help you compare them.

Renewable and clean energy providers

These energy companies aim to source and supply green electricity and in some cases also renewable or carbon offset gas for their customers.

More UK energy suppliers

Not all gas and electricity suppliers share the same environmental goals as those mentioned above. There are a great number of energy companies in the UK both, big and small

Big Six

The Big Six is a popular name for the UK energy cartel made up of the six most established companies on the market.

  1. British Gas
  2. EDF Energy
  3. Eon
  4. npower
  5. Scottish Power
  6. SSE

Other UK energy utility companies

The United Kingdom has a massive amount of smaller companies trying to get a slice of the retail energy pie. Here's just a few of them:

What do UK energy companies do?

The UK energy sector is made up of several layers:

  1. Energy generators generate electricity both in renewable and non-renewable ways.
  2. The National Grid links up the energy producers through a high capacity network designed to carry electricity from one end of the country to the other.
  3. Distribution Network Operators are responsible for stepping down the high voltages from the national grid so they are suitable for residential use locally.
  4. Finally, energy providers bill you for the energy you use in your home.

Energy suppliers are the last step in the energy journey, their one job is to charge you for the energy you use. They buy up gas and electricity in bulk on a wholesale market so they can then sell it on to British households and businesses for profit.

This energy wholesale market is similar to a stock market with the price of electricity and gas fluctuating depending on demand and supply. Energy providers try to buy energy at low prices when electricity generators are outstripping demand on the national grid. This allows energy providers to sell it on to their customers with a sizeable markup that goes straight to their bottom line.

The opposite can also happen where demand comes close to meeting the outer envelope of supply which then drives up energy prices on the wholesale market. In those situations, energy companies may make less money or even lose a little.

While British energy companies play the energy wholesale market, regular customers are insulated from sudden changes in energy prices through two main types of tariffs which most energy suppliers adhere to:

  • Variable-rate tariffs have energy unit rates that can change from one month to the next. These changes are usually driven by the seasons with unit rates increasing in winter and falling in the summer.
  • Fixed-rate tariffs have rates that are set in stone for a fixed period of time, usually a year. While a household’s energy bill might change because of variations in energy use, the underlying rates will not during the duration of the tariff.

While it might be tempting to think that one energy company will provide better quality gas or electricity than another, that’s simply untrue. Every UK household gets the same kind of gas and electricity through the national grid and their local Distribution Network Operator, no matter where they are.

Going with a cheaper energy provider doesn’t mean more power cuts or brownouts. In fact, in the unfortunate event of a power outage, your energy supplier will only be able to refer you to your Distribution Network Operator or a national power outage helpline who will actually be responsible for dispatching engineers who can fix the problem

Telling them all apart

The main differences between energy companies for UK customers are as follows:

  1. Customer service quality varies from one energy utility to the next. This can impact how quickly and effectively billing issues or queries are resolved. Long call wait times and unclear communication are symptoms of unsatisfactory customer service which can erode customer trust in a company.
  2. Pricing is the other main area which varies across providers and, in some cases, even within the very same provider. Different providers will offer different rates within their tariffs and energy advice services, such as Selectra, let you compare them like for like.
  3. Energy sourcing varies from one energy supplier to another due to different wholesale purchasing practices. Some companies will make it a priority to buy green electricity while others will go with electricity coming from nuclear or coal power stations without giving it a second thought.

Green energy companies are no longer more expensive than companies that are less caring when it comes to the environment. Renewable electricity is competitive when stacked against less environmentally-friendly sources. Using greener electricity comes down to mere willingness to do so in this day and age.

Voting with your wallet

Since a more expensive provider doesn’t net UK energy consumers a more reliable gas and electricity supply, there is no point staying with a company that overcharges its customers. The UK energy market privatisation was justified as a way of giving all Britons more choice and better prices for their gas and electricity.

This means that UK households are responsible for finding the best deal for their home. However, over 70% of people stick with the same big energy company instead of shopping around for a leaner and more competitive supplier.

It’s worth noting that the majority of the big energy suppliers listed above are owned by foreign companies. Anyone staying with these suppliers out of a sense of patriotism is misplacing their loyalty. Take Scottish Power, for example, they are owned by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

How to pick a winner

With so many energy companies doing essentially the same thing, picking the right one for your home is no easy feat. Here at theSwitch, we have a few pointers to get you started:

  1. When comparing energy tariffs make sure you find the unit rate and standing charge amounts for each one to get a clear idea of which one offers better value for money.
  2. Do a little research on the company to get a better idea of the type and quality of service they offer. By clicking on the company names above, you can read our in-depth guides. You can find out everything from customer opinions to the supplier energy mix.
  3. If you’ve just moved into a new home or don’t know how much energy you use every year, use an energy estimator to better understand your gas and electricity consumption.
  4. Speak with an energy advisor to get an idea of what company has the best prices for your area. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy talking on the phone you can also do an online comparison.
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