Ecotricity are the trailblazing supplier that started the green energy movement. Founded by renewable energy maverick Dale Vince OBE in the mid-nineties, they were the world’s first renewable supplier and the UK's first vegan energy supplier. Now, they generate their own energy through various wind, solar and sea projects, are involved in numerous eco-initiatives and claim to be "Britain's greenest energy company".
In our independent Ecotricity review we delve into this environmentally-conscious company to help you decide if they’re worth making the switch to.
Ecotricity at a Glance
- Electricity: 100% renewable
- Gas: 12% green gas
- Based: Gloucestershire
- Founded: 1996
- Customers: 200,000
- Just two simple tariffs and no exit fees
- Generate their own green energy
- Involved in various eco-friendly initiatives
- UK's first 100% vegan energy supplier
- Fund and support anti-fracking groups
Here at The Switch, we help British households to make the switch to one of the UK’s best green suppliers. To help you choose, here is our independent review of Ecotricity - Britain’s original green energy supplier.
1. Customer Service
To start with, let’s take a look at the quality of Ecotricity’s customer service. In our experience, we have found Ecotricity’s customer service reviews were historically very good, but in recent months there have been a slew of negative reviews. Current reviews however appear to be split down the middle, with customers claiming they are either excellent or pretty terrible, for a variety of reasons.
We have found some customers to be happy with the customer service with many praising the speed at which they solve their issues and the friendliness of the staff.
“All Ecotricity staff I have spoken to so far are very helpful, supportive, professional, knowledgeable, pleasant and, above all, resolve issues, one might have, very quickly and cheerfully.”
However, there have also been negative reviews of late, with some customers with the opposite experience. Reviews from angry customers have emerged, with some waiting for weeks for their issues to be solved or smart meters to be installed for example.
Other complaints state the customer service phone lines have been very slow to answer, whilst some customers have claimed they were still being billed even after switching to another supplier. The most common complaint however appears to be regarding high prices and unexpectedly large or incorrect bills.
“Their billing has gone haywire. One of their earliest customers, we've stuck by them. We've always had a generous direct debit and now they claim that we owe hundreds of pounds. Had a long conversation with their customer services and discovered many errors in their records and in our billing. They promised to send amended invoices dating back, but nothing so far.”
Whilst many customers have been unhappy recently, Ecotricity’s customer support team typically respond quickly and appear 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 and vent their anger on review sites or social media.
Overall then, Ecotricity’s customer service is a mixed bag. Whilst in many cases are happy with the service, there are just as many, if not more, negative reviews. So when it comes to customer service, there are certainly better suppliers than Ecotricity.
2. Tariffs & Prices
Next up let’s take a look at their tariffs and pricing. Currently, Ecotricity offer just two simple tariffs - one for gas and one for electricity.
Ecotricity’s offering of simple, variable tariffs is a great idea. It’s easier to understand and means that when the wholesale price of energy is low, Ecotricity’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.
When it comes to the pricing though, their tariffs are pretty expensive. 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 £1264 per year with Ecotricity. In comparison, Pure Planet came out at £863/year, Bulb were £876/year and Tonik quoted £901 per year for equal usage. So Ecotricity could cost you up to £400 more a year than the cheapest green suppliers.
It’s also worth noting that Ecotricity (like many green suppliers) also don’t charge any exit fees, making it easy to switch supplier again in future. This is fast becoming the industry standard and is something you should look for before switching to a new supplier.
3. Bills & Account Management
Like most energy suppliers, Ecotricity are aiming to use technology to make it easier for customers to keep on top of their energy bills and account information. At first glance, they have done just this through their website and mobile app.
Customers can view and pay their bills through Ecotricity's well-designed and easy to use website. They can also submit meter readings and manage their account information online too, as you would expect in 2018.
To pay bills, customers have the choice of setting up a monthly direct debit or making one-off payments online or over the phone. There's also the option to pay a fixed direct debit amount each month or a variable direct debit for the exact electricity used. Giving customers the choice and flexibility to pay in different ways is a great idea and is something we feel all suppliers should do!
As you would expect from an eco-friendly company, Ecotricity are aiming to stop sending paper bills altogether and do everything online instead. However, for now they still send paper bills to those who want them.
“Ecotricity's application of technology is surprisingly rudimentary. Why can't they inform customers of a change of payment through their app? (Or even by email?). I made an error in submitting a reading and the app wouldn't let me correct it - why not? The app doesn't let you see an up to date statement of your account and payments made on a daily basis.”
To manage bills and account on your smartphone, there is also the Ecotricity app. However, it is not rated particularly well (2.5 out of 5 on Apple’s app store). Customers have posted reviews on the app stores stating it has had problems when entering meter readings and also lacks support for certain models of smartphones.
So overall, whilst Ecotricity’s bills are easy to read and the online account is pretty good, the website falls short on certain features such as displaying customer’s usage data. Likewise, the Ecotricity app is not the best and also lacks some key features.
Ecotricity are an outstanding supplier when it comes to their ethical values, vegan and anti-fracking initiatives and investment in their own energy generation. However, if you’re basing your decision on price alone, Ecotricity are far from the cheapest green supplier in 2018.
If your priority is supporting the most eco-friendly company on the market, we’d recommend Ecotricity. But for customer service and pricing in particular, there are better suppliers on the market.
Ecotricity are the UK's original green energy supplier that take their eco-credentials and environmental impact very seriously. They have evolved from a tiny operation building wind turbines into one of the largest renewable energy suppliers in the UK.
Ecotricity was established in Gloucestershire in the early nineties originally under the name 'Renewable Energy Company'. It was supposedly the world's first green electricity company and was established by green energy pioneer Dale Vince OBE.
Green energy pioneer Dale Vince OBE. Source: The Independent
Dale started the company whilst living in a truck with a wind turbine to power his own electricity. From there he began building wind turbines commercially before using them to generate electricity soon after. Dale Vince still owns Ecotricity to this day, whilst he is also the chairman of the "world's greenest football club" - Forest Green Rovers.
Ecotricity's heavy investment in green energy projects and simplistic approach has helped them grow to supply green gas and electricity to over 200,000 customers.
Certifications & Awards
Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
As a result of all their eco-initiatives across the company, Ecotricity were the first energy company in the world to be awarded the EMAS accreditation. This is awarded to companies that have implemented eco-friendly processes and schemes into everything they do.
Ecotricity have done this by recycling all consumables at their offices, planting wildflowers to encourage bee habitats, installing electric car chargers across the UK, volunteering for local eco-projects and encouraging staff to take public transport, cycle or walk to work.
Energy Switch Guarantee
Ecotricity 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 2018, Ecotricity were listed by the London Stock Exchange Group as one the ‘1000 companies to inspire Britain’. This recognition celebrates the UK’s fastest growing small and medium-sized businesses in the country.
In 2016, they won the award of ‘Best Green Energy Brand’ at the Energy Branding Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was in recognition of their ability to ‘broadcast a green message through their branding and how effective it is, how well the source of energy is branded and how successful the brand is within its market.’
Ecotricity's Renewable Energy
Ecotricity are one of the only energy suppliers in the UK to generate a large portion (20%) of their own energy as opposed to sourcing it all from elsewhere. They invest heavily in their own wind farms and other infrastructure to power their customer’s homes.
They also proudly only use vegan energy-generating methods and so avoid sourcing any energy from biomass - generated from organic matter such as animal waste.
Ecotricity's energy mix is made up of offshore wind energy, onshore wind energy and a tiny portion from hydropower.
Ecotricity supply 100% renewable energy made up of a mix of sources. Unlike most suppliers who source all of their energy from third-party generators, they actually generate around a fifth of their own supply through wind power and solar power across the UK, with the rest sourced from other energy generating companies. Whilst around 20% may not sound a lot, this is far more than other suppliers are doing to actually generate green energy themselves.
Ecotricity are also investing heavily in new infrastructure to increase their energy contribution to the national grid even further. This certainly cannot be said of all green suppliers and really strengthens Ecotricity's claim of being 'Britain's greenest energy company'.
To generate energy, Ecotricity own and operate 24 wind farms across the UK comprised of 74 wind turbines. This generates enough renewable electricity to power over 47,000 British homes per year. Plus they have four more wind farms in the works that could potentially power an additional 120,000 homes.
Alongside wind power, Ecotricity have also begun generating solar power from their very own ‘sun park’, in Lincolnshire. Fen Farm is an area of 5,000 solar panels that soak up the sun’s rays to generate electricity. Currently it can only power a few hundred homes with electricity, but they have additional sun farms planned which are set to boost this up to 7,000 households.
Did you know?
As with all suppliers providing 100% renewable electricity, Ecotricity 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, Ecotricity 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 Ecotricity and other suppliers are helping to increase the renewable portion of the UK’s electricity.
Ecotricity also supply 12% of their gas from ‘green gas’, which is generated using by small suppliers who use a process known as anaerobic digestion - the breaking down of organic waste to create a renewable form of gas.
Compared with the other renewable energy suppliers in the UK, Ecotricity’s 12% portion of green gas is higher than the industry average of 10%. Currently only Green Energy UK can boast supplying 100% green gas.
The Ecotricity website also states that they are planning to further boost this percentage by investing in their own green ‘gas mills’, with two currently in the works in the South of England. These two gas mills would generate enough gas to power 7000 homes. Plus, unlike most green gas which comes from organic matter and animal waste, Ecotricity’s gas mills will generate gas from grass and no animal products whatsoever, making it 100% vegan.
Ecotricity are also strongly against fracking in the UK as a way of generating gas. In fact they do more than oppose it and have established and invested in the ‘People Power Fund’ - an activist group set up to fight back against the government approval and use of fracking in Britain.
Prices & Tariffs
Here are Ecotricity's two tariffs and 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.
|'Green Electricity' tariff||'Green Gas' tariff|
|Type of tariff||Variable||Variable|
|No exit fees|
|No minimum term|
|Unit rate||17.70p per kWh||4.30p per kWh|
|Standing charge||25.90p per day||26.64p per day|
|Total yearly cost (3 bed house London)||£1264
(inc. £15 dual-fuel discount)
Ecotricity offer tariffs for small and medium-sized businesses. They also supply gas and electricity to larger organisations including RSPB and Riverford Organic Farmers and the Boston Tea Party chain of cafes.
Businesses that use Ecotricity receive benefits including a dedicated business account manager and even the option to buy their own wind turbines to generate their own electricity on site.
If you need to contact Ecotricity’s customer service team, they offer numerous ways to do so. Whether you need help solving a problem with your account, to make a payment over the phone or get an answer to your question, you can contact Ecotricity using the details below.
Ecotricity Contact Number
Monday - Thursday: 8.30am – 7pm
Friday: 8.30am – 6pm
Saturday:9am - 4pm
Ecotricity Group Limited, Lion House, Rowcroft, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 3BY
Ecotricity Account Login
Customers receive access to the online account area of the Ecotricity website. Here you can view your bills and submit your meter readings. To access your account, click the login button below.
Forgot your Ecotricity username or password? Simply click the ‘Forgot?’ links on the login page and they’ll email you a reminder.
Once logged in to your Ecotricity account, you can:
- Submit meter readings
- View your bills
- Pay your bills (if not on direct debit)
Should I Switch to Ecotricity?
If you’re interested in doing as much as you can for the planet, then switching your gas and electricity to Ecotricity could be a great choice. Whilst they are not the cheapest green supplier, you can be safe in the knowledge that your supply is coming from probably the most eco-friendly energy company in the country.
For more information about switching to Ecotricity, click below to contact us.