Best green energy suppliers: how to keep your home sustainable in 2020

Find the best green energy supplier for your home with our in-depth guide

best green energy supplier
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for the best green energy supplier? Fortunately, the UK green energy sector is expanding rapidly, with more choice of companies providing energy from renewable sources than ever before. This guide will help you navigate the green energy market and choose the energy provider that will strike the right balance between green credentials, affordability, and ease of use. 

How do green energy suppliers work? 

To clarify: when we speak of green energy, we mean energy that has been generated from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, biomass conversion, and water. Currently, the majority of green suppliers in the UK only provide renewables-sourced electricity, but not gas (with a few notable exceptions). 

The other reality of green energy to be aware of is that to be classed as 'renewable' or 'green', an electricity provider doesn't have to generate the electricity themselves or buy it directly from renewable generators. Under current regulations, an energy provider can qualify as 'green' by matching their customers' electricity use with the purchase of renewable energy certificates. In other words, your electricity usage is matched by equivalent generation from a renewable source, but the electricity you're actually using may be from the standard electricity market.  

Even with these drawbacks, green energy suppliers are worth your considerations: all of the companies on our list contribute to carbon offsetting programmes where they're unable to provide energy that's green (this typically goes for gas). Some pledge to planting trees for every customer who joins, while others contribute to charities that deliver electricity to communities in the developing world. While the way that green energy supply works still has a way to go to being genuinely carbon neutral, it is generally a more sustainable choice than standard energy providers. 

Ready to switch supplier? Check out our energy comparison tool to see the best deals and make the switch.

What is the best green energy supplier?

Our top pick of green energy suppliers is Octopus Energy – the company has taken the green energy market by storm, rising to the top in a matter of only four years. Bulb Energy are not far behind, with competitive prices and great customer service. No time to read the rest of the article? Here are all our top picks at a glance:

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Best green energy suppliers

Best green energy supplier: Octopus

(Image credit: Octopus Energy)

1. Octopus Energy

Best green energy supplier

Specifications
Renewable electricity?: Yes, 100%
Renewable gas?: No
Carbon offset programme?: Yes
Exit fee: No
Reasons to buy
+Fair pricing+Consistently great customer service

What they're good at

Octopus are a relative newcomer onto the green energy market, but since their launch year of 2016 they have won the trust and appreciation of many, even garnering a 'best supplier' award from uSwitch twice. Those who have switched to Octopus report clear and consistent billing, good prices, and super-quick customer service, even over email. 

How green are they?

While 100 per cent of electricity from Octopus is from renewable sources (solar, wind, and hydro energy), their gas is not. However, if you go for their Super Green tariff, which is only a few pounds a month more than their standard tariff, your gas usage will be offset via a contribution to carbon offsetting projects. 

Best affordable green energy supplier: Bulb

(Image credit: Bulb Energy)

2. Bulb

Best affordable green energy supplier

Specifications
Renewable electricity?: Yes, 100%
Renewable gas?: Yes, 10%
Carbon offset programme?: Yes
Exit fee: No
Reasons to buy
+Competitive tariffs+Easy to switch to 

What they're good at 

Affordability – Bulb are hands down the best where it comes to offering competitive variable and fixed tariffs. Moreover, not only do Bulb not charge any exit fees, but they also will refund you any fees your old provider charges you. Bulb also boast an easy-to-navigate website and clear billing. 

How green are they? 

All the electricity from Bulb is from renewable sources. They also currently supply 10 per cent renewable gas, which is more than most other companies on our list. The carbon footprint of the non-renewable gas you use is offset by purchasing 'carbon offsets' from a company called Climate Care. Essentially, Bulb fund carbon-reducing projects (e.g. reforestation or delivering energy to developing nations) around the world via Climate Care. 

Best value green energy supplier : OVO Energy

(Image credit: OVO Energy)

3. Ovo

Best value green energy supplier

Specifications
Renewable electricity?: Yes, 50% as standard on all tariffs, or 100% on Beyond tariff
Renewable gas?: No
Carbon offset programme?: Yes
Exit fee: Yes, £30 per fuel
Reasons to buy
+Great for owners of electric vehicles+Company plant trees on your behalf
Reasons to avoid
-Automated telephone service-Need to pay extra to go 100% green

What they're good at 

Ovo focus firmly on affordable tariffs, and many people have found their energy affordable. Ovo are also leading the way where it comes to successfully installing smart meters and providing people with electric chargers for their vehicles – great if you own an electric car. 

How green are they?

You can get a 100-per-cent renewable electricity tariff with full carbon offsetting for your gas, but you will need to pay £6 a month extra for this. As of 2019, all of OVO's tariffs come with 50 per cent renewables-sourced electricity as standard – not terrible, but be aware that the rest comes from natural gas. 

What to watch for 

There is the occasional report of trouble with billing, particularly if you cancel a fixed tariff mid-way or move home. Some people report missing human contact when trying to call them. Also note that not all tariffs are green. 

Best green energy supplier for 100% renewables: Green Energy UK

(Image credit: Green Energy UK)

4. Green Energy UK

Best green energy supplier for 100% renewables

Specifications
Renewable electricity?: Yes, 100%
Renewable gas?: Yes, 100%
Carbon offset programme?: No
Exit fee: No
Reasons to buy
+100% renewable energy, including gas
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

What they're good at

Green Energy UK is a leader where it comes to transparent energy service – and great customer service. Those who happily use them as an energy supplier report quick and friendly customer service and smooth switching. 

How green are they?

As green as it gets: the only company on our list to provide 100-per-cent green gas generated from biomass, Green Energy UK is the company for you if you want truly green energy without compromise. They also don't use nuclear, which is a bonus if the use of nuclear energy is a concern for you. 

What to watch for

This is the most expensive green energy provider on our list, for obvious reasons, so you'll need to be prepared for the higher bills. For this reason, if you go with them, avoid estimated billing, as eventually you could end up with a large bill to pay once the estimate has been update to an actual meter reading.

Best community green energy supplier: Co-op energy

(Image credit: Co-op energy)

5. Co-op Energy

Best community green energy supplier

Specifications
Renewable electricity?: Yes, 100%
Renewable gas?: yes, 25%
Carbon offset programme?: Yes
Exit fee: Yes, £30 per fuel
Reasons to buy
+Owned by customers+Local energy sourcing 
Reasons to avoid
-Some customer service and billing issues

What they're good at

Co-op Energy have one quality that sets them part from all the other companies on our list: their Community Power initiative, which allows you to choose a tariff that relies completely on energy generated from green energy community projects in the UK. This means that you energy will be not only 'green', but also local – and will contribute to the further development of green energy in the UK. 

How green are they?

Co-op offer 100 per cent green energy as standard on all their tariffs. The gas is 25 per cent renewables (which is well above the industry standard), but there also is a carbon offsetting programme in partnership with the charity Renewable World.

What to watch for 

There are some reports from dissatisfied customers about the lack of customer support if a billing error is made, especially when trying to get through via email. Smart meter installation also doesn't always go smoothly.