Forget the Big Six – the best gas, electricity and dual fuel deals are offered by independent energy suppliers, most of whom have popped up over the last five years. But who are they, and do they really offer a real-world alternative to household names like British Gas and E.ON? In this article, you’ll find out.
The British energy market is dominated by six energy suppliers. They are called the Big Six, and they are made up of British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE. The monopoly these suppliers have held has been going strong for more than 10 years, but a lot has changed in that time. Turbulence in other countries and fluctuating economies has led to wholesale energy costs spiralling sky high one day, and plummeting the next. This, among other factors, caused the cost of energy to the consumer to go up year on year. But, this cost was rising at a rate faster than the wholesale cost, which is why these energy suppliers haven’t got the best reputation among customers.
For instance, in January 2015, it was reported that the cost of wholesale energy was at a two-year low (Telegraph), and yet the big six’s energy prices did not fall for the consumer. This was slammed by chancellor George Osborne as it was revealed UK households were being overcharged by as much as £140 a year for energy (The Guardian).
Meanwhile, independent energy suppliers have been sitting back and laughing. This, after all, was what spawned them in the first place – sheer disgust at the way people were being treated by their energy suppliers, and the inaction by anybody to do something about it. But this wasn’t the only reason that independent energy suppliers were born. The key – and most obvious – reason is that entrepreneurs saw a gap in the market for a new energy supplier who not only could compete on price, but compete on customer service too.
List of independent energy suppliers
In alphabetical order, the independent energy suppliers in the UK are:
- Better Energy
- Budget Energy
- Firmus Energy
- First Utility
- Flow Energy
- Good Energy
- Green Star Energy
- iSupply Energy
- Opus Energy
- Ovo Energy
These are all of the independent energy suppliers currently operational in the UK (if we have missed any, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll amend this list).
The biggest independent supplier of these is First Utility, while the biggest top up or prepaid energy supplier is Utilita. The greenest energy supplier on this list is Ecotricity. Ovo Energy is fast becoming one of the most popular independents to switch to, because they have competitive energy prices and an excellent customer satisfaction rate.
Opus Energy meanwhile deals with businesses only – and they often have the best gas and electricity only and dual fuel rates for SMEs in the UK. So they are worth checking out. Ecotricity, Flow Energy, Good Energy and GnERGY are also highly rated independent suppliers. In fact consumer group Which? found that Ecotricity and Good Energy had the highest customer satisfaction rates among all energy suppliers in 2014 – British Gas and Npower were ranked last. So for customer service, you should avoid the big six.
Imaged above are the top four results of the latest energy companies satisfaction survey by Which, conduced in 2015. As you can see, independent suppliers make up the list, with none of the top six in sight. In fact, you have to go all the way down to 12th to find one, in SSE.
Having analysed the energy market throughout 2015, we have no problems in recommending you get a quote from a few independent energy suppliers if you are currently with one of the big six, or if you don’t feel as though you are getting value for money. Independent suppliers have the best deals, it’s as simple as that, and their customer service is much more efficient.
In 2016, independent energy suppliers are still cheaper than the big six for standalone gas and electricity tariffs. However, their dual fuel tariffs work out around the same price overall. The kicker is that independent suppliers are still rated far higher for customer service. So if you are interested in getting a good service from your supplier, be it when you contact them on the phone or through email, you should definitely choose an independent energy supplier when it comes time to switching.