Bulb Energy Reviews: the best for green energy?
Bulb are a tech-focused energy startup on a mission to fix the 'broken' energy industry and make renewable energy "cheaper, simpler and greener" for households and businesses in the UK.
With one of the cheapest green energy tariffs and excellent customer service, the new kids on the block are attracting customers in droves - signing up over 1.5 million customers in a matter of a few years. But is Bulb the right supplier for you? Read on to find out.
Bulb Energy Review
At The Switch, our mission is to help spread the word about renewable energy and to help you make the switch to one of the UK’s best green suppliers. To help you decide whether one of the fastest growing energy suppliers around is for you, here is our independent Bulb Energy review.
1. Customer Service
One of the most important features of any energy company is the quality of their customer service. Bulb are keen to improve the industry’s often poor complaints performance through the use of technology.
Where possible, Bulb uses email to communicate with customers for most interactions including keeping you updated on the progress of your switch, reminding you to submit meter readings and informing you of upcoming payments.
For customers that prefer to speak to a real person, Bulb has a call centre in London. Bulb Energy reviews seem to report that the provider is generally pretty quick to answer the phone and efficient at solving customer issues. In fact, they came first in Which?’s investigation into all the UK’s energy supplier’s call waiting times, with customer services answering the phone in just 27 seconds on average.
I have called Bulb a number of times for a number of different questions, every time I was on hold for a very acceptable time (less than 5 mins each time) and every time they were able to answer my questions!
Despite this, some Bulb Energy reviews reveal that some customers have been left reeling after they were quoted a lower price than the price they ended up paying. This is often due to Bulb’s variable tariff price changing with the energy market’s wholesale costs. Unfortunately, this is par for the course for customers on a standard variable tariff.
However, Bulb’s customer support team is usually responsive and sympathetic to these issues and appear to try to fix them as soon as possible. Of course, there are inevitably some customers that do not get their issue resolved satisfactorily. On the whole though, Bulb’s customer service is excellent and their innovative use of email correspondence puts them a level above the competition.
2. Bulb Energy Tariffs & Price
Next up let’s take a look at Bulb Energy tariffs and pricing. Currently, Bulb offers just one tariff named ‘Vari-Fair’ for both dual-fuel and electricity-only customers.
Bulb’s concept of offering one variable tariff and no fixed tariffs is an innovative concept and they are one of the first suppliers to try this approach. At first glance, it seems like a great idea. It’s simpler for customers to understand and means that when the wholesale price of energy is low, Bulb’s prices are too. It also means you’re not stuck on a fixed tariff that may end up costing more when wholesale prices are lower.
Playing devil’s advocate, however, not having the option to ‘lock in’ at a fixed price means that your bills inevitably fluctuate throughout the year, in line with the wholesale energy market prices. Plus, if you join Bulb during a period of low prices, it might come as a shock when they inevitably rise again!
When it comes to the pricing, their variable tariff is not the cheapest on the market but does compare well with the Big Six. Our research into the cheapest renewable suppliers 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 currently pay around £1,076 per year on Bulb’s Vari-Fair tariff. That’s for both gas and electric, which is safely below the national price cap but not by so much that it needs shouting about.
Bulb also don’t charge exit fees, making it easy to switch supplier again should you fall out of love with them in future. In fact, Bulb will pay your exit fee from your current supplier in order to make sure switching to them doesn’t put you out of pocket!
It’s worth noting that Bulb aren’t the cheapest supplier on the market. Again our research into the cheapest renewable suppliers showed Pure Planet offered the cheapest variable tariff for a family of four in London, coming in at £863 per year. The cheapest fixed tariff was Tonik Energy at £901 per year for our London-based family.
3. Bills & Account Management
With Bulb being a tech-focussed startup, they are set up to be web-based and do most things digitally. All Bulb customers receive their bills via email each month and can access all their details through the excellent Bulb online customer area of the website.
The online account area of the Bulb website. Source: Realgifts.co.uk
We’re big fans of the Bulb website which is well-designed and extremely easy to use. It has plenty of information and an extensive support section. Accessing the online account area is a breeze to browse and view your bills, energy usage, send in meter readings and update your billing information.
Their login zone is also brilliant enabling you to see your current tariff and usage details and giving you an up to date amount on how much you are using and what it will cost after submitting each meter reading.
In addition, there is even an online community forum for customers to discuss various issues and ideas for how Bulb could improve. This is a really nice touch that not many energy companies offer.
When you’re out and about, you can stay on top of your bills with the highly-rated Bulb Energy app. Not only does it offer the functionality of the online account, it also allows you to snap a photo of your meter reading to send in. The Bulb smartphone app is available on both Apple App store and Google Play.
Whilst the account management is excellent, some customers have been left annoyed with Bulb’s policy of charging the direct debit a month in advance, based on estimated usage, rather than paying for actual usage a month afterwards. Bulb say they charge in advance in order to allow them to purchase energy upfront and keep prices low.
Customers are not always happy with this approach, so it’s worth being aware of Bulb’s billing schedule before switching.
On reflection, Bulb appear to tick most of the boxes for a top energy supplier. From our research into Bulb, it was noticeable that the majority of their online customer reviews sing their praises and then sneakily include their customer referral link. It could be said that Bulb’s reviews are therefore skewed in order for customers to get more referral payments!
Whilst you can’t blame customers for this, it’s worth taking this into account and taking some reviews with a pinch of salt. Regardless, we're still of the opinion that Bulb are a very good supplier.
So you’ve read our review, but who are Bulb Energy? Read on to to learn more about the ethos, history and people behind this shining example of a modern energy supplier.
Mission & Ethos
Bulb was founded with the mission of fixing the problems customers have with other suppliers such as complicated and expensive tariffs, dated technology and poor customer service. They have a clear vision for simplifying and fixing these problems using technology, whilst also helping more of us switch to 100% renewable energy.
We want to make the whole industry better. And there are three ways we're trying to do that - we're making energy simpler, cheaper and greener.
Technology & Innovation
In order to offer competitively priced tariffs, Bulb keep their running costs to a minimum. One way they have done this is through clever use of technology and automation in their back-office processes to minimise admin work.
Bulb automate the repetitive tasks that some suppliers do manually such as collecting meter readings from customers or sending out paper statements. Instead, they do this using email, online and via the Bulb smartphone app. Automation of these processes has allowed them to keep their admin team small and staff costs low. This allows Bulb to pass these savings on to customers through cheaper tariffs.
The Bulb Energy App
Unlike many suppliers, Bulb have built their own app which is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. It enables customers to:
- Manage your account on the go
- Send in meter readings by taking a photo
- View your statements and account balance
- Find and share your referal link to earn £50
The app has not had the best reviews in the past but currently boasts scores of 4.8 out of 5 on both Google Play and the App Store. This comes after Bulb released updates to fix many of the issues users had complained about, which seems to have been a great success.
From our recent experience of testing the app, it is easy to use and seems to function well, and Bulb Energy reviews for the app now reflect this. Users regularly point to the simplicity of using it, which for us is the best praise an app could receive.
Bulb were founded by two friends in 2015 in the trendy startup hub of Shoreditch in East London. Their tech-focussed and innovative approach to supplying renewable energy has helped them grow rapidly to supply gas and electricity to over 300,000 customers in 2018.
To grow at such a fast pace, Bulb used the power of social media to get their customers to spread the word online through their referral scheme in which customers receive £50 for each new customer they sign up. This incentive meant Bulb’s customers flocked to social media, blogged and joined message boards to convince their friends, family and strangers to sign up. This digital word-of-mouth has been a roaring success and both Bulb and their customers have benefitted.
Who are Bulb Energy?
Bulb was co-founded by Amit Gudka, who previously worked as an energy trader at Barclays and Hayden Wood, a former management consultant who had also worked with energy suppliers.
Their combined experience and insight into the energy industry lead them to start their own energy company in order to fix all the problems they encountered with other energy suppliers.
Certifications & Awards
In 2016 Bulb were certified as a ‘B Corp’ which is an internationally-recognised certification awarded to companies that ‘meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.’
Gaining B Corp status show’s Bulb’s commitment not only to the environment and providing clean energy, but also to paying their staff the National Living Wage and being transparent with their pricing.
Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO)
Bulb are fully certified by Ofgem - the organisation that regulates the UK’s energy companies. They are also certified by Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) scheme which ensures energy suppliers can prove how much of their energy is actually from renewable sources. As part of this scheme, Bulb must publish their energy mix to show where their energy comes from and ensure they are being transparent with their customers.
Energy Switch Guarantee
Bulb are also registered with the UK’s Energy Switch Guarantee scheme which ensures customers can change their energy suppliers quickly and without hassle.
All suppliers in the scheme have committed to ensure:
- The switch will take no longer than 21 days
- The new supplier will not charge for the switching process (other suppliers still charge exit fees)
- Your energy supply will not be interrupted
- Your new energy supplier will handle the whole process for you
- You can change your mind and cancel the switch within the first 14 days
In 2017, Bulb won the Climate award at the Digital Agenda Impact Awards in London.
Bulb's Renewable Energy
Bulb don’t produce their own energy and instead source the majority of their energy from hydropower and anaerobic digestion plants across the UK.
Bulb's energy mix is made up of 74% hydroelectric power and 26% anaerobic digestion - a process involving breaking down of organic matter such as animal and food waste.
Bulb’s 100% renewable electricity is sourced from various independent suppliers across Britain who generate hydropower from rivers and streams, and anaerobic digestion by breaking down organic waste - typically on small farms.
Hydroelectric schemes such as Allt Fionn and Derrydarroch Hydros in Scotland and Old Walls Hydro in Dartmoor also generate energy by harnessing the power and strength of the water running through a small stream on their farmland.
While solar power makes up a tiny percentage of Bulb's supply, the Oak Grove Solar Farm in Wales contributes a small amount of electricity to Bulb's energy mix - enough to power 1,400 homes.
Did you know?
As with all suppliers providing 100% renewable electricity, Bulb 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, Bulb guarantee to 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 Bulb and other suppliers are helping to increase the renewable portion of the UK’s electricity.
Bulb also supply 10% of their gas from green gas, which is generated by small suppliers using a process known as anaerobic digestion - the breaking down of organic waste to create gas.
When compared with the other renewable energy suppliers in the UK, Bulb’s supply of 10% green gas is pretty standard. At the time of writing, only Green Energy UK has managed to reach the holy grail of 100% green gas. Of course, this comes at a cost - Green Energy UK’s tariffs are more expensive than Bulb's tariffs, and Bulb's gas supply is 100% carbon neutral anyway.
Bulb work with numerous independent green gas producers such as Huggin Farm in Yorkshire. Huggin Farm were one of the UK’s first farms to install an anaerobic digester plant on their land for generating green gas. As a farm they grow maize and sugar beet and the waste from this they break down to produce green gas. This is then fed into the National Grid and supplies Bulb customers and other British households.
Bulb Energy Price
To keep things simple, Bulb only offers one tariff named the 'Vari-fair' tariff for both dual-fuel and electricity-only customers. It was one of the cheapest renewable energy tariffs before Bulb introduced price rises. This tariff includes 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas.
Below are details of the Vari-fair tariff and the Bulb Energy price 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.
|'Vari-fair' (Electricity)||'Vari-fair' (Gas)|
|Type of tariff||Variable||Variable|
|Gas||-||100% carbon neutral|
|No exit fees|
|No minimum term|
|Unit rate||14.11p per kWh||3.061p per kWh|
|Standing charge||19.79p per day||20.44p per day|
|Total yearly cost (3 bed house London)||£1,076|
As well as households, Bulb also supply businesses too. Business customers also get the added bonus of a dedicated account manager plus one of the cheapest energy tariffs in the country.
To request a quote for your business, simply fill in the request quote form on the Bulb website to find out more. Your quote will be based on your business's specific needs.
Bulb Energy smart meters
Bulb is in the process of installing Bulb Energy smart meters across the across in 2020, in line with the government's policy of having them in every UK home by the end of this year. The provider is currently inviting customers with the most likelihood of a successful installation - which would be those in areas with enough trained engineers and good network coverage.
As more engineers are trained and network coverage improves, all customers will be able to have a Bulb Energy smart meter fitted. You are also able to switch to Bulb Energy if you have a smart meter with another supplier. Bulb will be able to read your meter automatically if it is a second generation model or a first generation model with the brand name 'Secure' on it.
Bulb Energy Login
All customers receive access to the super-simple online account area of the Bulb website. Here you can view and manage your tariff, bills and personal details as well as refer a friend for a £50 reward. To access your account, visit the Bulb Energy login page.
Once logged in to the dashboard you can:
- Submit meter readings
- View energy usage
- View statements and past payments
- Change payment details
- View account and tariff information
- Refer a friend to Bulb
The page is not heavy on bells and whistles, but is equipped with all the functionality you will need to make managing your energy easy. You can also chat with an agent directly via the app if you're having problems.
Bulb Energy login help
Forgot your Bulb Energy login details? Simply click the link that reads ‘Email me a link to sign in' and they’ll send a link to reset your password to the email address you registered with.
Bulb Energy contact number
If you're looking to get in touch with Bulb about residential or business energy, the first thing you'll want to find is a Bulb Energy contact number. You'll find this information, as well as opening hours, in the table below:
|Department||Bulb Energy contact number||Opening hours|
|General inquiries||0300 30 30 635||Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm (except for bank holidays)|
|Business inquiries||0113 859 1350||Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm (except for bank holidays)|
If you'd rather not wait to speak with Bulb over the phone, you can chat directly with an agent via its website using the online chat function. You can also email Bulb at firstname.lastname@example.org for domestic inquiries or email@example.com for business inquiries.
If you don't want to wait at all, you can a full comparison of the market to see which deal is best for you across all providers by chatting to one of our agents. Call 020 3608 4293 today to get through to a Selectra energy expert.
Should I Switch to Bulb?
If you’re interested in switching your gas and electricity to an affordable renewable energy provider, Bulb could be a good choice.
As long as you are happy to be on a tariff in which prices may rise and fall throughout the year, you could save some money while wholesale energy prices are low. Plus, with no exit fees, you can always switch again whenever you want!
Based on this, Bulb are difficult to fault. There are a couple of cheaper suppliers around right now, but Bulb is still a solid option. For more information about switching to Bulb, give us a call.