Looking for the best renewable energy suppliers? Read on.
I’ve been doing a bit of research into the best green energy suppliers lately, as we’d like to switch to a renewable supplier. As well as finding out about each company, I also wanted to find out who would be the cheapest supplier for my region.
We’re not rich by any means. We both work for charities, me part-time. We also have colossal child care bills on top of our mortgage and everything else. As such, I always assumed that we couldn’t afford to switch to a green energy supplier. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the quotes. Switching to a 100% renewable electricity supply could only end up costing us an extra £12 a year – just £1.09 a month!
What Is Renewable Electricity?
Before I get into the green energy suppliers, firstly, I just wanted to help understand a little bit about electricity.
When you switch to a green energy supplier, the electricity that comes into your home still comes from the national grid. It doesn’t affect the actual power. The power in your home will not be 100% green.
The one thing it does affect is where the electricity on the national grid comes from. If you have a 100% renewable tariff your supplier has to match the power you have used by putting the same amount of renewable energy back into the national grid.
Therefore, by taking a few minutes out to switch to a green energy supplier you’re making a big difference to the environment without changing your behaviour.
The Best Green Energy Suppliers
Please note all quotes are based on the average household consumption of 3200kw per year. It’s also based on my region (Southern Scotland). Prices will vary from region to region so this aims to be a very rough guide. Prices do go up and down so do check with each supplier for an accurate quote for your region.
Good Energy Electricity is currently the greenest UK electricity supplier. They source their electricity purely from UK renewables. These being solar power, wind power, and hydropower. They also score the highest in the Ethical Consumer guide to green energy companies, with a score of 15.5 out of 20.
They have one “Good Energy” tariff (available as a standard rate or an Economy 7 rate). This is 100% renewable and comes with a pledge from Good Energy saying that it will “invest in renewable heat generation projects that will benefit local communities“, as an additional environmental commitment.
Prices vary depending on what part of the country you live in. From a 15.48p standing charge a day if you live in the East Midlands, rising to 21.09p if you live in the north of Scotland. Therefore, it’s worth checking out the tariff to see how you would fare. I was quoted a standing charge of 19.2p a day and a 14.94p unit cost, coming in at £548.16 a year. They do offer a reduced gas unit rate if you also switch your gas supply to Good Energy too.
Green Energy is a competitively priced green energy supplier, who say their prices are competitive not only within the green market but also the entire utility industry.
They say they want to challenge the idea that ‘being green’ is about making the extra effort and paying extra. They want people to stop talking about green energy as an ‘alternative’ as it makes sense for everyone. It’s almost like they read Moral Fibres or something!
Again, price varies by region and by the tariff. This is where I feel they fall down. Good Energy has one straightforward tariff. However, Green Energy has three different tariffs – unhelpfully named “Tap”, “Still” and “Sparkling”.
This means nothing to me in terms of electricity. It’s a bit confusing, to say the least, especially on a page headed as “simple tariffs”. It’s so confusing that they’ve made a video to explain the difference between the tariffs, which speaks volumes about how hard it is to understand.
From what I can gather, Sparkling is 100% renewable energy; Still is low-cost green energy and Tap is, well, to be honest, I’m not really sure. It’s the cheapest but I’m not sure if it’s green or not. I’m also not sure what the difference is between “100% renewable” and “low-cost green energy”. It’s just a bit too greenwash for my liking.
On the plus side, their electricity comes from a variety of natural sources. They score 15 out of 20 from Ethical Consumer for their ethics. And they also allow all of their customers to become shareholders for free. Therefore, Green Energy is definitely worth investigating if you can get your head around the jargon.
For 100% renewable electricity I was quoted a 27.39p standing charge per day; and 15.02p per unit, coming in at £580.61 per year. Sadly their quote didn’t live up to the hype. It was the most expensive quote I received, with a difference of £77. 97 between this and the lowest quote.
Ovo are a relatively new company, forming in 2009. They offer a 100% renewable electricity plan, but they don’t produce the energy: they buy it from other companies.
They say “we take our energy from the National Grid, so we can’t guarantee that what ends up in your home will be totally green. But if you go with our 100% renewable electricity plan, what we can guarantee is that for every unit you buy from us, we’ll buy one back that’s 100% renewable – and comes with Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificate“. Which is fair enough, based on the fact that all energy comes from the national grid anyway.
For 100% renewable power my quote was a standing charge of 28.77p a day and a unit rate of 13.41p, and was estimated to come in at £504 per year. Scoring 13.5 out of 20 from Ethical Consumer, they score a bit less than some of the others, but not by a significant amount.
Ecotricity source their energy from the wind, sun and sea. I don’t know much about their past, other than I think at some point they have dealings in coal and nuclear. However they are now actively investing in installing and developing new renewable options. And in August 2013 they switched to offering a 100% green electricity tariff. They seem to be going from strength to strength.
I found their site to be very professional and straightforward. They have only one tariff – 100% green electricity -which I found refreshingly simple after getting all confused over at Green Energy!
As usual, the price varies across the country. I was quoted a standing charge of 32.88p a day and a unit rate of 13.66p, working out at £557 per year. They score slightly less from Ethical Consumer than the others – 13 out of 20, again, not a significant amount of difference.
The Green Energy Suppliers Cost Comparison
To sum everything up I’ve made a little run-down of the rates, based on my quotes. This means you can see who the cheapest green energy suppliers are, and how it compares to a standard non-renewable rate:
So as you can see switching a green energy supplier like Ovo could only end up costing us £11 more a year. A paltry £1.09 a month more than our current rate. If I reduced my chocolate habit by one bar a month it would cost us nothing more than we already pay to switch to a greener supply.
Are you with any of these green energy suppliers? I’d love to hear your opinions on them and experiences with them. Or are you considering switching?
ps: if you enjoyed this post you might enjoy my series on easy energy saving tips!
ps: I am not affiliated with any of these companies, so this post is completely unbiased.