Bristol Energy are a community-focussed energy supplier with a mission to help locals save money on their energy bills and to reinvest profits into social projects. Run by Bristol City Council, they offer a range of energy tariffs to homeowners and businesses in the South West and across the UK.
In our independent Bristol Energy review we take a look at their customer service, tariffs, pricing and account management to help you decide if they are worth switching to.
Bristol Energy at a Glance
- Electricity: Up to 100% renewable
- Gas: Up to 15% green gas
- Based: Bristol
- Founded: 2015
- Customers: 76,000 (2018)
- Owned by Bristol City Council
- Reinvest profits in local community projects
- Bristol-based customer service
- Renewable energy from local generators
- Range of tariffs for homes & businesses
Bristol Energy Review
Interested in finding out more about Bristol Energy before you switch? Check out our review of Bristol Energy to learn about their customer service, tariff pricing and more.
1. Customer Service
To begin our review, let’s look at how Bristol Energy’s customer service stacks up and what their existing customers think of them.
Bristol Energy proudly promote the fact that they have a Bristol-based call centre with local staff, rather than outsourcing their support services abroad. Their website also puts a lot of emphasis on providing good service, claiming “Exceptional customer service is at the heart of our mission to change the energy sector for good”. This is certainly something of a cliche in the energy market, but do they live up to their promises?
Looking at various online reviews, the majority of customers have been happy with their support staff, claiming that they are friendly, helpful and proactive in helping to resolve any issues they may have had. Others were delighted with how sympathetic, patient and understanding staff were, particularly when trying to solve confusing billing issues.
“It's a pleasure to deal with Bristol Energy, I rarely call Bristol Energy but when I do the staff are always very helpful and I get through quickly.”
However, as you would expect with any energy supplier, they don’t have a 100% perfect service record and there are other customers that have been left less than satisfied with the quality of the support. A handful of angry and frustrated customers have claimed that they have been left on hold, some for over an hour, or that their issue has not been resolved, despite repeated phone calls.
Others have also complained of being overcharged from Bristol Energy’s overestimates of predicted energy usage and again, not been happy with the response of the support team when trying to resolve the issue.
On the whole though, Bristol Energy seem to do a stand-up job of supporting their customers on most occasions and whilst they slip up from time to time, which service business doesn’t?
2. Tariffs & Prices
When it comes to pricing, Bristol Energy’s tariffs are certainly not the cheapest on the UK energy market. From our research in November 2018, we found that a family of four living in a three bedroom house in London with average usage (3,100 kWh electricity and 12,500 kWh gas), would pay around £1187 per year with Bristol Energy.
For comparison, we gained quotes from some of the typically cheapest renewable suppliers in November 2018. Pure Planet came out at £926 per year, Bulb were £1109 per year and Tonik Energy quoted £1124 per year, all for equal usage. So if you’re basing your decision on pricing alone, Bristol Energy are probably not the best option.
|Pure Planet||Bulb||Tonik Energy||Bristol Energy|
|Annual cost, 3 bed house London||£926||£1109||£1124||£1187|
Prices correct as of November 2018
In the past, customers have been happy with their bills on the whole, with countless online reviews mentioning how much money they saved by switching from other suppliers.
Nonetheless, customers have expressed disappointment at recent price rises and larger energy bills. It’s worth noting however, that these price rises are not unique to Bristol Energy as many suppliers including Bulb increased their prices by 11% in the Autumn of 2018 to keep up with rising wholesale energy costs.
“My fixed tariff is coming to an end and the renewal letter says my prices will be going up £250 per year. Eye wateringly expensive I'm afraid.”
They also offer a variety of different tariff options with both 12 or 24 month fixed price options, a variable tariff that rises and falls in line with the wholesale market prices, specialist green tariffs with 100% renewable electricity and even business tariffs for SMEs.
So whilst they may not be the absolute cheapest supplier, we think Bristol Energy offer some decent tariffs for both households and businesses and are still positioned towards the cheaper end of the market. Our only criticism would be that not all of their tariffs offer renewable energy, though they have stated they’re working towards increasing their mix of renewable energy in the future.
3. Bills & Account Management
As with most energy suppliers in 2018, billing and account management is handled online, through their website and via email. Bristol Energy customers can login to the online portal to view and pay bills and manage their personal details, submit meter readings and view past energy usage. They also send out monthly bills and reminders to submit meter readings by email. For those that prefer a hard copy, they also provide paper copies by post.
The online account area of the Bristol Energy website. Source: Object Source
The Bristol Energy website is basic but functional, with plenty of information and easy to access contact details. It may not be winning any design awards any time soon, but it does the job for most customers. From our research, customers tend to be happy with the online account area, describing it as simple to use, intuitive and easy to navigate and offering all of the functionality required.
“Switching was easy, their website makes inputting monthly meter readings a piece of cake and monthly bills arrive promptly by email containing all the information of what I’ve used/paid/in debit/credit for gas and electricity.”
Bill payments can be made in a variety of ways including the bog-standard options of monthly direct debit, bank transfer, over the phone or one off online payments through the website. They also allow customers to pay in person at the Post Office using the PayPoint system or top up prepayment meters using the PayZone system.
Alongside the typical payment methods, they also accept payment with Bristol’s very own currency, the “Bristol Pound”. This first-of-its-kind local currency was launched in 2012 to encourage people to exchange their Pound Sterling for Bristol Pounds to spend on local services such as transport or council tax and also at independent businesses such as shops and restaurants - the aim being to keep money in the city and circulating around local businesses.
It makes sense that a proudly Bristolian company would accept the Bristol Pound as payment for local’s energy bills and goes hand in hand with their mission of supporting their local communities.
“We believe energy companies have the power to make a positive difference. If you pay your bills with Bristol Pounds, your money doesn’t just disappear into the pockets of private shareholders, it will help us to support your city.”
Bristol Energy App
The only downside we have found when it comes to bills and account management is their lack of smartphone app. As a small and relatively young supplier, it is probably to be expected that they have not gotten around to investing in a smartphone app. However, with more and more of us using our mobile to many aspects of our lives, it would certainly be useful for customers to have an app to track energy usage and pay bills on the go.
All in all, Bristol Energy are no doubt a good energy supplier that contribute far more to their local community than most suppliers could ever claim. Whilst they lack a mobile app and as strong a focus on renewable energy as some of their rivals, they offer some affordable energy tariffs and provide decent customer support. For residents in the South West, or those enticed by the idea of their energy bill payments contributing to social causes, Bristol Energy are a great option.
About Bristol Energy
To learn more about Bristol Energy, let's take a look at the company, their ethos and history to date.
Mission & Ethos
As one of the UK’s only council-owned suppliers, Bristol Energy were established with a more ethical approach compared to the majority of privately-owned, profit driven suppliers. Their ethical approach encompasses numerous goals to better the environment and improve the lives of as many people as possible.
“Bristol Energy will make a meaningful difference to the energy sector. We’ll give everyone access to fair, transparent tariffs and great customer care.”
Bristol Energy's core mission is to supply affordable energy with fair and transparent pricing to not only the people of Bristol but the whole of Britain. This is part of their commitment to help customers save money and also to help those struggling to get out of fuel poverty. According to their website they claim to save customers £173 per year on their energy bills, although this of course is dependent on wholesale energy costs which rise and fall throughout the year.
To further help customers save money and get out of fuel poverty, they also voluntarily offer the Warm Home Discount which is a government scheme in which qualifying customers receive a £140 discount on their electricity bills between September and March of each year. This is usually for those on a low income or in receipt of Pension Credit.
Not content at simply helping their own customers, they also reinvest profits into local community projects such as Caring in Bristol - a charity who provide shelter and food to homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol.
Bristol Energy's other core value is in helping the environment. To achieve this they offer 100% renewable electricity and 15% green gas - one of the highest proportions of renewably sourced gas of any UK supplier. Where possible, they source their renewable energy from local renewable energy generators in order to help the city of Bristol reach its aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Bristol Energy was founded in 2015 by the Bristol City Council after the idea was initially put forward in 2010.
As a publicly funded energy company, it has had over £17m of taxpayers money to help set up and run the business. Whilst they are reportedly growing faster than expected in terms of customer numbers, their original plan was to breakeven in 2019 and become profitable. However in 2018 it was reported that the company has been operating at a huge loss of £8.4 million and is now not expected to breakeven until 2021.
“We’ve hit all our key milestones this year. We’ve got more customers than we expected at this point, and needed less funding from Bristol City Council than planned. We’ve also saved Bristol customers more than £5.5m on their energy bills.”
Awards & Recognition
Bristol Energy have won multiple awards. Source: Bristol Energy
Bristol Energy have been recognised for their successful growth over the past few years with numerous awards.
‘Start-Up Business of the Year’ - Business Leader Awards
‘Best New Business’ - Bristol Life Awards
‘Overall Winner’ - Bristol Life Awards
Bristol Energy Smart Meters
Bristol Energy are offering a limited number of customers a free smart meter installed in their property to help them stay on top of their energy usage and to send in automatic meter readings.
Smart meters are a much needed update of the “dumb meters” many of us have installed in our homes which offer no information about our energy usage in real time and require customers to send suppliers manual meter readings, by phone or online.
For those eligible customers, it offers peace of mind that your bills will be accurate since they are based on your actual usage and not Bristol Energy’s estimates. The meters also have a screen that display real time energy usage numbers and costs, so you are always aware of how much you’re spending on your gas and electricity.
The company are currently offering ‘first generation’ smart meters to a select few vulnerable or pension-age customers and also those that need a new meter. But by 2020 all customers will be eligible for a free smart meter as part of a government push to ensure all homes are using them.
Bristol Energy's Renewable Energy
Next up, lets take a look at where Bristol Energy source their energy from.
Bristol Energy generate and source electricity and gas from a mix of around 51% renewable sources and the rest from natural gas (31%), nuclear (10%), coal (6%) and other (2%) non-renewables.
Bristol Energy are not a completely renewable supplier but do offer 100% renewable electricity with their My Green Plus tariff.
Did you know?
As with all suppliers providing 100% renewable electricity, Bristol Energy customers receive the same electricity from the National Grid - a melting pot of electricity sourced from renewable and non-renewable sources. However, for every unit of electricity their customers use, Bristol Energy guarantee to generate or buy and put back an equal amount into the grid that was renewably-sourced.
As renewable energy generation and usage increases in the future, the percentage of renewable electricity customers receive from the grid will increase. Therefore Bristol Energy and other suppliers are helping to increase the renewable portion of the UK’s electricity.
Bristol Energy also supply 15% of their gas from ‘green gas’ which is generated from the sewage waste of over a million people in Bristol. It might sound gross, but sewage waste can be processed and turned into biomethane gas and is a very environmentally-friendly way to generate gas to power your home!
Compared with the other renewable energy suppliers in the UK, Bristol Energy’s 15% portion of green gas is impressive, with many struggling to offer more than 10% due to the costs of producing it at a large scale. They’re also committed to increasing this further in the future.
Bristol Energy Tariffs
Bristol Energy offer a few different tariffs for both households and businesses. These tariffs include:
- 1 Year Fix Issue 26 - Fixed prices for 12 months
- 2 Year Fix Issue 8 - Fixed prices for 24 months
- My Green Plus Issue 10 - Fixed prices + renewable electricity and green gas
- 2-Year Fix Green Issue 2 - Fixed prices + renewable electricity and green gas
- Standard Variable Tariff - Variable prices that rise and fall
Here are Bristol Energy's prices for a typical 3 bedroom home in London. This is based on the UK average annual energy usage of 3,100 kWh of electricity and 12,500 kWh of gas.
|My Green Plus Issue 11 (Electricity)||My Green Plus Issue 11 (Gas)|
|Type of tariff||Dual fuel - Fixed for 12 months|
|No Exit fees|
|Minimum term||12 months|
|Unit rate||15.87p per kWh||4.19p per kWh|
|Standing charge||19.53p per day||16.04p per day|
|Monthly cost||£99 per month|
|Total yearly cost (3 bed house London)||£1187|
Bristol Energy also supply renewable energy to small and medium-sized businesses that use up to £300,000 worth of energy per year. Business customers receive extra benefits including a dedicated business customer service team and an assigned account manager to help with any queries.
There are a range of business-specific fixed price tariffs available for either 12, 24 or 36 months to give your business energy bills some stability. Bristol Energy’s ‘Business Green’ tariff also comes with 100% renewable electricity and 15% green gas, ideal for SMEs interested in doing their bit for the planet.
One of their most notable business customers are Bristol Rovers Football Club who share similar values to Bristol Energy, particularly when it comes to supporting their local communities. However, despite their love for all things Bristol, they also supply businesses located all across the UK.
Contact Bristol Energy
To contact Bristol Energy is easy and they provide a number of ways to do so including various telephone numbers and email addresses for general enquiries, customer care and business enquiries.
Bristol Energy Phone Number
For general customer enquiries call:
Monday - Friday: 8am – 8pm
Saturday: 9am - 5pm
Bristol Energy Limited, 100 Temple Street, Bristol, BS1 6AG
Bristol Energy Login
Customers of Bristol Energy can access their bills and account online in the portal area accessible via the Bristol Energy website. To access your account, visit their website and click the login button at the top. Then simply enter your email or account number along with your password.
Customers can access their bills and account on the website via the Bristol Energy website. To access your account, visit their login page below.
- Submit meter readings
- View your bills
- View past energy usage
- Make a one-off bill payment
- Update contact details
- Contact Bristol Energy