Switching to a green energy supplier is one easy way to help combat climate crisis in 2020. Humanity's use of fossil fuels remains the single biggest contributing factor to a rapidly warming climate, so offsetting your impact on the environment by choosing the best supplier for any energy you do use is a good start.
Having said that, most people switch energy suppliers with cutting costs in mind, and the question many people have about green energy suppliers is: can they really be cheaper than non-green, and is a switch really worth it in the long run?
The good news is that yes, switching green energy can indeed work out cheaper than staying with your current supplier. For fairness' sake, we will say that no, green energy is not the cheapest: green suppliers cannot compete with the absolute cheapest energy tariffs. However, if you are on a standard tariff with one of the big six energy suppliers, we'll bet you that you can find a cheaper tariff with a green supplier. And if you aren't struggling paying the bills but want a better deal that's also better for the environment, then switching makes total sense.
There is now an impressive number of green energy suppliers on the UK energy market, and we won't go through all of them (a price comparison website will help you with that); instead, we're going to be looking at the energy suppliers we think are getting the balance right between sustainability, fair billing, and good customer service.
1. Green Energy UK: 100% renewables and great service
If you want to buy your energy from a company with real integrity when it comes to renewables, Green Energy UK is the real deal. It's one of the only green energy suppliers in the UK that offer not just 100 per cent renewable-sourced electricity, but 100 per cent renewable-sourced gas too (generated from biomass, i.e. agricultural and industrial waste). With many 'green' suppliers, it can be quite difficult to work out just how much of their energy is actually from renewable sources; with Green Energy, you know exactly what you're paying for.
The vast majority of reviews of this company say that it's hassle-free to switch and get in contact (and you get to speak to someone quite quickly over the phone), and the billing is simple and straightforward.
We'll be honest and admit that Green Energy tariffs aren't the cheapest, with the green gas coming in at an average 30 per cent more expensive than the standard non-renewable gas from other companies.
2. Bulb Energy: an affordable supplier with integrity
Bulb energy is technically not the greenest as only 10 per cent of their gas comes from renewable sources, but it has by far the best balance of all the suppliers currently operating in the UK market between affordability and integrity. Their electricity is 100 per cent from renewable sources, and they offset the carbon footprint of their non-renewable gas by donating to carbon offsetting projects around the world.
Cost-wise, Bulb offer some of the best green energy deals, and are up to 20 per cent cheaper than the Big Six.
Most people report that Bulb have decent customer service, although occasionally, Bulb have been reported to be slow to deal with issues such as smart meters that aren't working or incorrect estimated billing. Our advice? Make sure your meters are sorted and in good working order as soon as you switch.
3. Octopus Energy: transparent tariffs and satisfied customers
Even just visiting the Octopus Energy website is a relief: one of the first things you see is a list of typical pricing per month for their different tariffs. This straightforward approach also translates into their billing and customer service, which is operated from the UK.
In terms of their green credentials, Octopus offer their customers choice: you can either go for a green-electricity only tariff, which will save you quite a bit on your bills (as much as £200 a year in comparison with a standard provider, when we last checked uSwitch), or a tariff that offsets the carbon footprint of your gas. This company has such good reviews that it's even scooped up an award from uSwitch.
4. Ovo Energy: flexible tariffs and a reward programme
Ovo energy also has a transparent and easy-to-navigate website that gives you examples of typical pricing. Their price comparison table will also tell you how much you're likely to save a year with the different tariffs available, including a two-year fixed tariff that's handy for budgeting.
Going green with this company is very simple: just £5 a month to your bill for choosing 100% green electricity with 'green' gas (which is 15 per cent renewables). They will also plant five trees on your behalf. Thanks. If you pay more (prices vary) you can also upgrade to Ovo Beyond for 100 per cent carbon-neutral gas. All plans have 50% per cent renewable electricity as standard.
Ovo also offer an interest reward programme where you earn money when you account is in credit.