How to Choose the Best Energy Supplier

Home » Energy » How to Choose the Best Energy Supplier

Intro: Thinking about switching your energy supplier? Read on to see how providers compare in terms of price, service and sustainability so that you can better decide which is the best energy supplier for your home.

Why switch energy suppliers?

If you haven’t switched your energy tariff in the past year or two, you’re likely on your provider’s standard tariff — which is often the most expensive plan.

Switching energy suppliers every 12 to 24 months (depending on your tariff) is the best way for you to save money on your gas and electricity bills.

There are around 60 energy suppliers in the UK. With so many choices, it can be difficult to compare and select the best energy supplier for your home. 

When choosing a new supplier, you’ll want to first establish how you prioritise the following factors:

  • Price — Are you looking for the cheapest offer?
  • Customer service — Do you want a reliable supplier?
  • Sustainability — Do you want to help save the planet?

Whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to help. Let’s see how suppliers compare across these areas so that you can choose the best energy supplier to suit your needs.

Which is the best energy supplier in terms of price?

The best way to save money on your energy bills is to compare and switch energy tariffs every one to two years. As pricing varies depending on your consumption, meter type and location, you will need to compare tariff prices using your own details.

The following factors can also affect the price of your energy tariff:

  • Tariff type — Is the tariff fixed or variable? A fixed tariff will guarantee your rates for the duration of the tariff. With a variable tariff, your rates will fluctuate with the wholesale cost of energy. For budgeting purposes, we recommend choosing a fixed tariff. They also tend to be cheaper.
  • Payment method — The cheapest payment method is via direct debit. The company knows they will get regular, automatic payments, so they offer a lower price. It costs a bit more to receive your bills by post, but Pay As You Go (PAYG) is what tends to be the most expensive. When or how much you top up is unpredictable, so they often charge more to make up for this.
  • Discounts — These may include new customer bonuses, dual-fuel discounts, or referral codes. If you have gas and electricity, we recommend using one supplier for both. It’s not only easier to manage, but many companies will give you a better offer when you register both gas and electricity. With referral codes (not all companies offer these),  both old and new customers can earn credit towards their account balance.

In the table below, you’ll find the cheapest energy tariffs as of December 2020. We used the national consumption averages (2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas per year) to calculate the projected annual spend for a house in London.

You’ll want to compare tariffs using your personal usage and local tariff rates.

Energy SupplierCheapest Energy TariffTariff TypeEstimated Annual Cost Exit fee
PFP EnergyFixed – December 2021 – Green v1Fixed£804.63£30 per fuel
GreenAspenVariable£841.13£0
Shell EnergyEnergy February 2022 v5Fixed£850.04£30 per fuel
Neo EnergyNEO 4.1Variable£856.39£0
Green Network EnergyGNE Awesome Autumn V2Fixed£858.04£25 per fuel

When comparing energy tariffs for your own home, you’ll want to compare the following tariff components:

  • Unit rates — How much you pay for you usage (expressed in kWh)
  • Standing charges — What you pay per day just to be connected to the supply

You’ll also want to check if the tariff has an exit fee. Tariffs with exit fees usually charge between £20 and £30 per fuel for terminating the contract early. They also tend to offer cheaper rates than tariffs without exit fees. Unless you’re planning to stay for just a couple months, don’t let an exit fee discourage you from signing up for a good deal.

BOX: Suppliers cannot charge you an exit fee within the last 49 days of your contract or after they have sent you renewal forms, whichever comes first.

How much more expensive is prepayment?

Prepayment energy tariffs are almost always the most expensive. While it may seem cheaper to top up your meter with a tenner each week rather than pay a larger sum each month, the rates for prepayment tariffs are actually much more expensive than those for credit meters.

Compared to customers that pay for their energy via direct debit, prepayment customers usually end up spending hundreds of pounds more per year.

The cheapest prepayment tariff on the market would cost the average household in London around £973 per year. That’s £170 more expensive than the cheapest tariff for direct debit customers!

If you top up your energy, we definitely recommend switching to a different payment method. If you top up a smart meter, you’ll just need to contact your supplier and ask them to switch it to credit mode, as smart meters can do both prepayment and bill payment. No one will need to visit your home and replace the meter in order for you to switch to a cheaper payment method.

If you have a standard prepayment meter (in which you use a key to top up your electricity), you will need to have a new meter installed to switch to direct debit. Your supplier will install the new meter free of charge.

Should I use an energy comparison site?

A price comparison site can be helpful in finding the cheapest energy tariffs in your area. Some energy comparison sites even offer exclusive deals that aren’t available on provider websites.

While these sites can be helpful in pointing you towards the best prices, we wouldn’t recommend running an energy comparison and immediately choosing the cheapest offer, as this can often be inaccurate.

Instead, it’s best to take 15 minutes to call in and get help from a real person. This individual can help you get the most accurate comparison according to your lifestyle, house size and consumption.

You can also use a comparison site as a sort of guide. Take a look at the energy companies with the best offers. Check out their personal websites and customer reviews. Find out what payment methods they accept and what services they offer. Do they install smart meters? Do they have an app?

We also advise searching for any recent news articles concerning your selected providers. Are they in financial trouble? Have they had any run-ins with energy regulator Ofgem? Are they likely to go bust? Due to regulation changes, many smaller companies are going bust, leaving their customers in limbo as they are switched to a new supplier they haven’t chosen.

Use a comparison site as a resource rather than as the ultimate decision maker. For more insight beyond just pricing, read on and learn more about the best energy suppliers in terms of customer service.

Which energy supplier has the best customer service?

When searching for the best energy supplier, the one with the cheapest offer may not actually be the best choice. You should also search for a supplier that provides reliable customer service.

Some suppliers, such as Pure Planet and Lumo, offer cheaper-than-average rates in exchange for not having a call centre. If you have an issue with your account, you’ll likely end up wishing you’d paid a bit more for customer support. Sending an email and waiting days for a response when your electricity has been cut off is not ideal.

In the table below, you’ll find the top five energy suppliers in terms of customer service, according to research from Citizens Advice from the second quarter of 2020. The organisation compares domestic suppliers on a quarterly basis across the following categories:

  • Complaints data
  • Ease of contact
  • Billing (timeliness and accuracy)
  • Switching
  • Customer guarantees
RankEnergy SupplierAverage Rating
1So Energy4.6
2Green4.45
3Igloo Energy4.4
4M&S Energy4.35
5EDF Energy4.35

Which are the best renewable energy companies?

If you want to help with the fight against climate change, the best energy supplier for you would be one that provides 100% renewable energy. Contrary to what many people believe, renewable tariffs are not much more expensive, if at all, than non-renewable energy tariffs.

The table below shows the UK suppliers that provide 100% renewable electricity. Other providers, such as OVO Energy and EON, also offer select energy tariffs with 100% renewable electricity.

Bristol EnergyBulbEcotricity
Foxglove EnergyGood EnergyGoto Energy
GreenGreen Energy UKGreen Star Energy
Gulf Gas & Power UKIgloo EnergyiSupply Energy
Octopus EnergyOutfox the MarketPure Planet
Shell EnergySo EnergySymbio

Time to switch?

Have you chosen the best energy supplier for your home? Now it’s time to switch.

You can either contact the supplier’s sales department or register online through a third-party service, such as a comparison site.

It’s best to have the following information prepared:

  • Your name and address
  • Your bank details (if signing up for a direct debit tariff)
  • Your meter type
  • Your annual consumption and/or spend
  • The name of your current supplier and tariff
  • The name of the tariff you want to switch to, as well as the unit rates and standing charges

Once you switch, you’ll have a two-week cooling-off period, during which you can cancel the switch and nothing will happen. After these 14 days, it may take up to another week before the actual switch takes place. At no time during the switch will your energy supply be cut off.

Click here for more stories and others like this.