Believe it or not, there’s more to energy switching than simply finding the best energy deals to cut the cost of your gas and electricity bills.
Although getting the best-priced tariff is usually the main motivation when households switch energy supplier, the latest Which? research on the best and worst energy suppliers once again highlights the importance of choosing a provider that not only offers value for money, but also good customer service, along with clear and accurate billing.
So, how does your energy supplier measure up?
This year's annual Which? study took in the opinions of around 8,000 UK gas and electricity customers, and included ratings for more than 30 energy companies in England, Scotland and Wales. This year saw a separate review of six energy suppliers from Northern Ireland.
It asked consumers to rate their energy suppliers’ based on the following:
If you’re a loyal customer of the Big Six energy companies, the results may come as a surprise, and even make you consider switching to a smaller supplier when your current deal is coming to an end.
Small energy firms make up the top 5 of the UK's best #energy companies according to @WhichUK - @octopusenergy, <a href="https://twitter.com/Ebicoltd?refsrc=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ebicoltd, @BulbUK, @joinpureplanet @peoplesenergy - would YOU ever make the switch to a smaller supplier? https://t.co/IZfpAUSD3d— UKPower (@ukpower) <a href="https://twitter.com/ukpower/status/1238402375330803712?refsrc=twsrc%5Etfw">March 13, 2020
Price is the most important factor when choosing an energy supplier to switch to, so it’s no surprise the top performing energy companies rated highly for value for money. And, as consumers get savvier about savings and energy efficiency, so the top-rated providers also score highly for accuracy and clarity of bills.
Octopus Energy has once again been rated as the UK’s top energy supplier, with an 83% customer score and five-star ratings in three of the six categories - bill accuracy, customer service and complaints handling.
It rated four stars for the other three categories - bil clarity, digital tools and value for money - and pulled in an outstanding score of 82% for procedures and practices.
This was closely followed by Ebico - last year's fourth-placed supplier - with a customer score of 79% and a score of 60% for procedures and practices.
Robin Hood Energy dropped from second place last year to 20th place this year, following the financial troubles that saw it rescued by a £25.5 million taxpayer loan, but Bristol Energy, another local authority-owned supplier, only dropped one place despite suffering similar financial difficulties.
Bulb jumped from position 8 last year to joint third this year, a position is shared with newcomers Pure Planet. Another newcomer, People's Energy, then ranked joint fifth with Powershop.
It's interesting to note that all of the top five entries are providers that are either ethically or environmentally-friendly or both, suggesting that people are now looking beyond simply cutting their energy bills.
Here’s how the top 10 energy suppliers measured up:
|= 3||Bulb Energy||78%|
|= 3||Pure Planet||78%|
|= 5||People's Energy||77%|
|= 7||So Energy||75%|
|= 9||Bristol Energy||73%|
|= 9||Co-operative Energy||73%|
|= 9||Ovo Energy||73%|
It probably won’t come as much surprise that Together Energy finished bottom of the list - it was in 21st place last year and has continued to struggle since it was appointed as supplier of last resort (SoLR) when One Select went bust.
The supplier saw its customer base increase by 60% overnight - jumping from 60,000 ot 90,000 - when it successfully bid to take one One Select's customers, despite having just 100 staff in its Dunbartonshire HQ and a further 40 outsourced in South Africa.
It's clearly not been able to handle the extra demand and has seen its customer score drop from 60% to 48% - last year's bottom-placed Solarplicity finsihed with 44% and eventually went bust in August of last year, when EDF was appointed SoLR.
The case of Together Energy suggest Ofgem's safety net is flawed, if a company with such a poor record can be appointed as SoLR when a supplier goes bust.
If you’re a customer of the Big Six suppliers, it might be time to look away now – as they make up six of the next seven places, with customer scores between 61% and 51%.
Amazingly, although there was a slight uplift in scores compared to last year, Scottish Power managed to do worse - its customer score dropped from 54% to 51%.
It's the second year that all of the big six have been down at the bottom of the table - it seems the UK's biggest energy suppliers aren't learning lessons and taking notes from the high-ranking indpendents.
Here’s how the ten worst energy suppliers shaped up:
|= 20||Robin Hood Energy||65%|
|= 27||British Gas||60%|
|= 27||EDF Energy||60%|
|31||Green Star Energy||55%|
|= 33||Scottish Power||51%|
|= 33||Spark Energy||51%|
The quickest and simplest way to make sure you’re on the best energy deal is to enter your postcode at UKPower and run a price comparison – powered by uSwitch, our service is completely free and impartial, and within seconds we’ll show you the best-priced plans from a whole range of suppliers.
And, because we know there’s more to switching than simply getting the best-priced tariff, when you find a tariff that suits, click on the supplier logo for more information.
Or, if you prefer, give our energy experts a call on 0800 014 2918 and they can find you the best deal with the supplier that’s right for you.
To check out the full results, visit the 2020 Which? energy survey results page.
To check out last year's results, go to the Which? 2019 energy results page.
To check 2018’s results, visit the 2018 Which? energy survey results page.
Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.