Bulb are a tech-focussed 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 around and excellent customer service, the new kids on the block are attracting customers in droves - signing up over 300,000 households in just three years. But are Bulb the right supplier for you? Read on to find out.
Bulb at a Glance
- Electricity: 100% renewable
- Gas: 10% green gas
- Based: London
- Founded: 2015
- Customers: 300,000
- Only one, simple to understand tariff
- Rated #1 on Trustpilot (9.6 out of 10)
- Excellent customer service
- No exit fees
- Earn £50 for referring friends and family
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 choose, here is our independent review of one of the fastest growing energy suppliers around - Bulb Energy.
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 customer service through the use of technology.
Where possible, Bulb use 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 have a call centre in London. Talking of which, we have found that customers find Bulb to be 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, we have encountered situations in which customers have been left reeling after they were quoted a lower price than the price they ended up paying. However, 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 variable tariff.
However, Bulb’s customer support team are usually very responsive and sympathetic to these issues and appear to try to fix them as soon as possible. Of course though, 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 makes them a level above the competition.
2. Tariffs & Prices
Next up let’s take a look at their tariffs and pricing. Currently, Bulb offer 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 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 overall when wholesale prices are lower.
Playing devil’s advocate however, not having the option to ‘lock in’ or pay a fixed price, means that your bills inevitably fluctuate throughout the year, in line with the wholesale energy market prices. Plus if you joined Bulb during the 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 the second cheapest on the market. 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 pay around £876 per year on Bulb’s Vari-Fair tariff. That’s for both gas and electric, which is very reasonable.
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 your switch over to them doesn’t put you out of pocket.
However, 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 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 we’ve not seen other 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. Plus, unlike some energy suppliers, 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.
However, 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.
Bulb's founders. Source: Startups
“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 and currently has scores of 3.1 out of 5 on Google Play and 3.3 out of 5 on the App Store respectively. However, Bulb have released updates recently to fix many of the issues users complained about.
From our recent experience of testing the app, it is easy to use and seems to function well, so hopefully the majority of the bugs in the past have now been solved.
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 benefited.
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 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.
— Bulb (@bulbenergy) July 6, 2018
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 to not only 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 hassle-free.
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 & 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.
Whilst 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 1400 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 who use 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 and Green Energy UK’s tariffs are more expensive than Bulb's tariffs.
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 feed into the National Grid and supplies Bulb customers and other British households.
Bulb Energy Tariffs
To keep things simple, Bulb only offer 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 Bulb's Vari-fair tariff and the 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.
|'Vari-fair' (Electricity)||'Vari-fair' (Gas)|
|Type of tariff||Variable||Variable|
|No exit fees|
|No minimum term|
|Unit rate||12.86p per kWh||3.18p per kWh|
|Standing charge||24.56p per day||24.56p per day|
|Total yearly cost (3 bed house London)||£945
(inc. £30 dual-fuel discount)
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.
If you need to contact Bulb’s customer service team, it’s easy to do so in all the ways you would expect. Whether you need an answer to your question, help solving a problem with your bill or account or wish to make a complaint, you can contact Bulb with the details below.
Bulb Energy Contact Number
Monday - Friday: 9am - 6pm
Saturday - Sunday: Closed
You can also write to:
Bulb, 68 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5JL
Bulb Account 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 their login page below.
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
Forgot your Bulb password? Simply click the ‘Email me a link to sign in’ link and they’ll email you with a link to reset your password.
Should I Switch to Bulb?
If you’re interested in switching your gas and electricity to an affordable renewable energy provider, then Bulb could be a great 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 serious money whilst wholesale energy prices are low. Plus with no exit fees, you can switch again whenever you want!
Based on this, Bulb are difficult to fault. There are a couple of slightly cheaper suppliers around, but they’re still an all round excellent supplier. For more information about switching to Bulb, hit the button below to contact us.