Compare Energy Suppliers

The best energy supplier in the UK

Switching your gas and electricity provider can help lower energy bills but who’s the best? Here, we take a look at what to consider when you compare energy suppliers so you can find a deal that suits your needs.

Why switch gas and electricity suppliers?

Energy prices fluctuate for a number of reasons — for example, wholesale price and network maintenance costs. It means that if you haven’t switched suppliers since your last deal ended, you could be paying more than you need for your gas and electricity. 

But switching to a new energy supplier isn’t just about saving money on household bills. If you’ve suffered from poor bill accuracy or have been left unimpressed by ineffective complaints handling, switching is a good opportunity to look for better customer service elsewhere. 

How to choose a new energy provider

There’s no right or wrong way to choose an energy supplier and a lot of it will come down to what your own preferences are. 

For example, if price is the most important factor for you, check how much  energy companies charge per unit of gas and electricity. Both are measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and you’ll be charged for every unit you use. On top of this, you’ll also pay a daily fixed rate standing charge which covers the cost of supplying your home with energy. 

To get the best value for money, you’ll need to look at both these costs. Some suppliers might have a low price per kWh but have a high standing charge which can increase what you pay overall. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a green energy supplier, take a look at their fuel mix. This information can usually be found on the supplier’s website. It will show you what percentage of their energy comes from renewable sources or fossil fuels. 

It’s also a good idea to read feedback on third-party review sites to see what existing consumers are saying. Doing this, rather than relying on the supplier’s own website, ensures you get a better understanding of how they treat customers and deal with problems.

What energy suppliers are there in the UK?

The UK energy landscape has changed considerably in recent months.  Currently, there are around 40 different energy suppliers of varying sizes with the vast majority providing  both gas and electricity. 

The largest energy firms in the UK are known as the ‘big six’. These firms have been around since the energy market was privatised in the 1990s. Together, they deliver energy to around 50 million homes.

The big six energy companies in the UK are:

  • British Gas — the largest energy provider in the UK supplying approximately 15 million households. British Gas is owned by Centrica, headquartered in Berkshire, England. 
  • Scottish Power— despite being set up in the UK, it’s now owned by Spanish firm Iberdrola. 
  • Npower — now owned by E.ON who bought the firm (along with its subsidiaries) in 2019.
  • E.ON — owned by German based utilities company E.ON Energie AG, E.ON supplies energy to nearly 4 million homes in the UK. 
  • EDF Energy —  the largest producer of electricity in the UK, EDF is headquartered in France. 
  • SSE — short for Southern and Scottish Energy, SSE is now part of the OVO energy group. 

There are also several other large to medium-sized energy firms including Octopus Energy, Shell Energy, Bulb Energy, Ecotricity, and Utility Warehouse.   

Who are the UK’s best and worst energy suppliers?

A large part of this will depend on what you expect from an energy supplier. But, if you’re concerned about customer service, industry regulator Ofgem, produces an energy supplier performance scorecard. This includes charts that set out the number of complaints per 100,000 customer accounts for large, medium, and small energy suppliers. 

According to the scorecard as of August 2021, of the largest suppliers, Octopus Energy had the fewest complaints per 100,000 customer accounts and OVO Energy, the most. 

Which energy supplier offers the best energy deals?

The price you pay for your gas and electricity depends on the energy tariff you’re on. Most energy providers will have a selection of plans you can choose from, but they’ll usually fall into one of these main tariff types:

Fixed rate tariff

This type of tariff fixes the price of energy per kilowatt hour for an agreed length of time. Usually, you’re tied into a contract for 12-months but it could be slightly longer. You can leave your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, but you could face exit fees for doing so. 

Remember that fixed rate tariffs only set the unit price of your energy. Your bills can still go up or down depending on your actual energy usage. 

Variable rate tariff

If you’re on a variable rate tariff, the unit price of energy will fluctuate. Factors that can affect what you pay, include wholesale price and network maintenance costs. 

With that in mind, variable tariffs are often the most expensive type of tariff you can be on. There is good news though as these tariffs are protected by the energy price cap. The cap limits the cost of energy per kWh, as well as the standing charge. 

If you can’t remember the last time you switched energy supplier, you could be on a variable tariff called a standard variable tariff (SVT). This is essentially a supplier’s default tariff and is typically one of the most expensive energy plans available. 

Variable tariffs do come with some advantages. They’re generally very flexible and don’t have exit fees. That means you should be able to switch tariffs or suppliers at short notice.

Dual fuel tariff

This tariff means you buy both gas and electricity from one energy supplier. Dual fuel tariffs usually offer good value for money as energy companies typically give discounts for buying both from them. Dual fuel deals also save on admin as you’ll only have one supplier to deal with. 

Prepayment tariff

This is where you pay for your energy in advance using a prepayment meter (it’s sometimes called pay-as-you-go energy). 

If you’re on a prepayment tariff, you’ll need to load a token or special key with money and use this to feed or top up the meter. 

Like variable tariffs, these are often expensive, but one of the main benefits is that you can control your energy budget. This is because you’ll be able to see exactly how much gas and electricty you have left which means you can adapt your usage accordingly. 

Green tariff

These are tariffs that aim to source energy from renewables, for example — solar, wind or hydroelectric. If energy companies aren’t able to source all of their supply by sustainable means, many will offset their carbon use by investing in environmental projects. 

How much can I save by switching energy suppliers?

The amount you save will depend on a number of reasons — for instance, how much energy you use. Savings can also be affected by where you live as available energy deals will depend on which suppliers operate in your area. 

How you pay your energy bill can also have an impact. Some suppliers will offer incentives or discounts if you pay via Direct Debit or manage your account online. 

What information do I need to switch energy supplier?

To switch energy supplier, all you need is your postcode and a recent bill that shows how much energy you use. 

If you don’t have a bill to hand, that’s ok — you can still compare and switch energy with just your postcode. 

How long does it take to switch energy supplier?

Thanks to the Energy Switch Guarantee, your switch should be completed within 21 days at the most. In practice, most switches are completed within 17 days but some could be even quicker.

Around 90% of energy suppliers have signed up to the guarantee which also means any problems should be resolved by your new supplier.

How does switching energy suppliers work?

Switching energy suppliers is simple, straightforward, and safe. All you need to do is:

  1. Compare energy tariffs
  2. Choose the tariff and energy supplier you want to switch to
  3. Contact the new supplier to confirm the switch
  4. Sit back, relax and wait for the switch to happen

When you confirm the switch, your new energy supplier will manage the entire process for you. If necessary, your old supplier will send you a final bill and any remaining credit will be transferred back to you. 

Your gas and electricity will still be supplied using the same pipes and network so you won’t experience any disruption to your supply. In fact, the only difference you should notice is lower bills. 

Can I change my mind about switching energy supplier?

By law, you have a 14-day cooling off period. 

If you change your mind during this period, just let the new supplier know and they’ll stop the process.

Do all energy suppliers offer a smart meter?

If your energy supplier is able to provide you with a smart meter, it’s likely that you’ll be offered one, but you don’t have to accept it. 

If you already have a smart meter from your existing supplier, and it’s compatible with your new energy provider, you should still be able to use it. If not, you may be offered a new one.

Smart meters come with a number of benefits. The main advantage is that it means an end to estimated bills as data is sent directly to your energy supplier. Smart meters also remove the need for meter readings. 

Another advantage is that you’ll be able to see how much your energy is costing as you use it. This can help you adapt your energy use and encourage greater energy efficiency. 

What happens if my energy supplier goes bust?

If your energy supplier ceases to trade, you won’t be cut off and there’s no need to panic. Ofgem will automatically transfer your account to an alternative supplier.

When that happens, you’ll be contacted by the new supplier and be able to discuss your tariff options. At this point, they will also clarify what happens to existing debts and any credit on your account.

Ofgem recommends that you take a meter reading in the meantime as this can make the transition to a new tariff easier. For more detailed advice, visit the Ofgem website.

Ofgem also regularly updates its list of supplier exits and takeovers. So, if you’re not sure who’s been appointed to replace your old energy supplier, it’s worth taking a look. The list includes the most recent firms to have stopped trading, including People’s Energy, Avro Energy, Igloo Energy, and Enstroga*.

Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent?

If you’re a tenant and pay the energy supplier directly, you can switch providers if you want. Bear in mind any specific terms in your tenancy agreement — for instance, you may have to switch back to the original supplier when you move out.

On the other hand, if your landlord pays your energy bills (and they later charge you for it) you don’t have the automatic right to switch. If this is the case, you’ll need to speak with your landlord and agree to an alternative provider but it’s completely at their discretion. 

How do I find the best energy supplier in the UK?

The quickest and easiest way to find the best energy supplier for you and your needs, is to compare deals on gas and electricity. Luckily, you can do that right here. 

Simply fill in your details and we’ll bring you all available suppliers and tariffs local to you. Just choose one that suits you. 

Saving money on energy really is that straightforward, so, what are you waiting for?