There has never been a better time to leave the much hated "Big Six" energy suppliers. While oil prices and stock markets plummet around the world, energy prices in the UK continue to defy gravity. While the shareholders at British Gas, EDF, Eon, nPower, ScottishPower and SSE will no doubt be delighted at the obscene profits these companies make, UK consumers continue to pay over the odds compared to other western countries. To rub it in, it was recently announced that the top executives at the six energy giants earned £12m between them in 2015.
While profits grow, customer satisfaction levels are at an all time low - not just because of high prices but because of poor customer service. Over the years the energy companies have maintained that their pricing reflects wholesale energy prices. Well, wholesale prices have fallen by 50% over the past 2 years while the average household energy bill has fallen by only 14%. The Big Six should be cutting prices by at least 10% this year but we know they won't - so what are our options?
The only way to make the Big Six more competitive is if a greater % of the population consider switching to an alternative supplier - not just a different player in the Big Six oligopoly (they are generally quite happy to pass customers around between themselves) but to one of 10 or so small, independent providers. So if you paying for your energy on a "standard tarif" or you are coming out of a fixed price deal we urge you to switch to an alternative.
Over the next few pages we'll introduce you to these alternative energy suppliers and the best fixed deals available from them. We've ranked them from the lowest savings available to the highest based on our average calculations.
6) OVO Energy
Ovo Energy started offering its services to customers back in 2009 so its a relatively well established alternative which has regularly been praised for its customer service and customer satisfaction levels. In 2015 it one uSwitch's Supplier of the Year Award winning 11 out of 12 available awards.
Its best available deal is the Better Energy 12 Months Fixed Deal available online only. The price is set at £823 based on average usage and promises savings of up to £469 on your current deal. It offers the added bonus of having no exit/cancellation fees.
5) First Utility
First Utility is the largest independent energy supplier with more than 450,000 customers as of December 2015. It was founded in 2008 so should be considered a well established and reputable player. First Utility does appear to have struggled with huge levels of demand in recent months and customer service has suffered - a fact acknowledged by chief executive Ian McCaig in a recent email apologising to customers.
As well as energy the company supplies phone and broadband services to consumers and business customers. It has recently campaigned to reduce switching times for energy customers.
The best package available from First Utility is their First Fixed 2017 v3 deal which is available for £817 based on average users - offering potential savings of £475 per year. Note: A £30 per fuel exit fee applies if you leave this tariff early.
4) iSupply Energy
iSupply Energy are a relatively new fuel provider based in Bournemouth who have been supplying UK homes since August 2012. They recently added gas and dual fuel tariffs for their customers. iSupply Energy do not offer any green tariffs like many other small providers. Rather than focussing on renewable energy they say their focus is on providing customers with cheap energy and excellent customer service.
The best offer available from iSupply is their Energy iFix February 2017 deal which is available for £804 per year based on average usage, a potential saving of £488 per year. Note:A £30 per fuel exit fee applies if you leave this tariff early.
3) Extra Energy
Extra Energy is a relative newcomer to the UK energy market having launched in early 2014. While they are small, they are growing fast and their credibility and reputation is enhanced by the fact their sister company Extra Energie already supplies 1 million homes and business in Germany.
They offer 3 very competitive fixed deals - fixed until February 2017.
- Clear - £792 (saving £384)
- Bright - £783 (saving £393)
- Fresh - £780 (saving £397)
The difference between the deals is the rate you pay above average usage. Under the Fresh deal you'll pay a little more for those additional units.
Note: A £25 exit fee applies to all of these deals.
2) Places For People Energy
Places For People is a not for profit, social business run by a housing association. The business has no shareholders which means all of its profits are ploughed in social causes such as affordable housing and employment training programs.
The best deal currently available from PFP is their Places for People Together February 2017 Fixed Paperless deal which is available for as little as £777 based on average usage. Note: the paperless offer means no bills will be sent to your home so everything must be managed online. In addition an early exit fee of £30 per fuel.
1) GB Energy
GB Energy is a new small gas and electricity supplier based in Preston. It launched in October 2015 with what it claimed was the cheaper tariff in over 4 years - this tariff was a variable duel fuel tariff priced at £799 per year, based on medium usage. The same deal is now available for as little as £787. The deal carried no exit fees but is variable, meaning the price can increase at any time (although this is unlikely given the low prices in the wholesale energy market).
The average bill size for customers on a standard tariff with the ‘big six’ suppliers is £1,158 by direct debit according to comparison website uSwitch. This could mean a saving of £359.
The company avoids comparison websites and spends little on advertising which it claims allows it to pass greater savings to households.