Bristol Energy is a young supplier started by Bristol City Council. It aims to supply affordable energy across the UK, while its profits go back into its local community. With a better than average fuel mix, good customer service and reasonably priced tariffs, it’s starting to challenge its fellow small suppliers. If the sound of supporting a community by paying your energy bills appeals to you, Bristol Energy could be the answer.
Bristol Energy: everything you need to know
Bristol Energy is a young company, only founded in 2015 by Bristol City Council. Being created and owned by a council is what sets Bristol Energy apart from the crowd - the aim is that all of its profits go towards the local community, helping tackle social and environmental challenges faced by the people of Bristol.
Although Bristol Energy has been created to benefit the city of Bristol, you can purchase a Bristol Energy tariff no matter where you live. It supplies energy to houses throughout the UK.
The supplier also aims to provide cheap and affordable energy, recognising that paying high energy bills is a struggle for a lot of households. Its saying, Simple. Fair. Transparent., tells you all you need to know - it wants to have fair pricing, be honest and open with its customers, and make the process of fueling you home, from switching providers to paying your bills, as easy as possible.
History and timeline
Being such a young supplier, there is not much to report when it comes to its past. We have put together a short timeline of key dates.
- 2015 - Bristol Energy is founded by Bristol City Council to sell cheap, clean energy and benefit the city.
- 2017 - After a year of trading, the supplier reports a loss of £7.7 million, pushing the projected date for returning a profit back to 2021.
- 2018 - Bristol Energy has 76,000 customers.
- 2019 - The supplier receives €1.9 million grant from the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to fund renewable energy.
Who owns Bristol Energy?
Bristol Energy is owned by Bristol City Council. As mentioned above, the council founded the supplier in 2015 using £27 of public funding. It continues to be supported by the council and, as it suffered from financial losses during the first couple of years of trading, the council has needed to pour more funding into the business to keep it afloat.
Bristol Energy jobs
As the name suggests, Bristol Energy is based in Bristol, meaning all jobs for the supplier are located here. Currently it employs around 180 people in the city. If you are interested in working for the supplier, you can find all current Bristol Energy jobs advertised on its website. Here you will also find further information on some of the employee benefits it offers and instructions on how to apply for a position that tickles your interest.
At the time of writing, Bristol Energy is yet to return an annual profit. Upon its creation, protections stated that it would start to make a profit in 2019, three years after it started traded. However, this was not the case. While the company has continued to gain more customers, this has increased its running costs, meaning in 2019 it returned a loss of £10 million.
The aim of 2019 to return a profit was quickly pushed make to 2021, but after the 2019 results, it has been reported that the company might not make a profit for a further five years.
Bristol Energy is committed to providing ever greener and cleaner energy, and it isn’t doing a bad job at sticking to this goal. While it might not have reached 100% renewable energy yet, it isn’t far off, currently offering 100% green electricity and low carbon gas.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, Bristol Energy managed to get an impressive 79% of its energy from renewable sources, which is far above the UK average of 32.8%. Take a look at the pie chart below to see where else its energy comes from.
Bristol Energy: fuel mix - ★★★★
In the news
Since its creation in 2015, Bristol Energy has featured in numerous reports due to its finances. Its failure so far to make a profit, the push back to 2021 to achieve this, and a possible further delay, have caused some concerns over its future. However, for now the council has remained committed to making the supplier a success.
Bristol Energy tariffs and prices
Bristol Energy offers gas, electricity and dual fuel tariffs for domestic use, as well as gas and electricity tariffs for businesses.
Alongside its standard variable tariff, Bristol Energy currently offers three fixed rate tariffs to households across the UK. All three have 100% green electricity and 15% green gas. You can also choose between receiving paper bills or going all digital.
- My Green Plus Tariff 1 Year Fix - on this tariff you will get fixed unit rates for one year, after which you will be swapped to Bristol Energy’s standard rate tariff if you do not sign up for a different tariff or swap providers.
- 2 Year Fix Green Tariff - on this tariff your unit rates are fixed for two years, but you are not tied into the contract for this time - you can leave at any point during the two years without facing an exit fee.
- Big Issue Green Tariff - this tariff will also give you fixed unit rates for two years. It’s bonus is that it lets you donate £30 to one of Bristol Energy’s projects (see section on services below) when you switch to it.
For businesses, Bristol Energy offers both 12 and 24 month fixed rate contracts. You can find out more and get a personalised quote for your business on the Bristol Energy website.
How does Bristol Energy compare to the energy price cap?
Bristol Energy prides itself on offering affordable energy, is this true? A good way to test this is to compare one of its tariffs against Ofgem’s energy price cap (the maximum Ofgem has said energy suppliers can charge new customers per year). We decided to use Bristol Energy’s standard variable tariff for the comparison as variable tariffs are usually a company’s most expensive option.
Luckily for Bristol Energy, this tariff does come in under the price cap, but not by much! With an average of £1112.06*, it's only £65.94 under the £1178 price cap. This is a bit disappointing for a company that states it wants to provide cheap energy, as there are a number of companies that come in a lot lower, including Tonik, Bulb, Octopus Energy and Together Energy.
However, being under the price cap proves that Bristol Energy’s prices are fair and more than reasonable. A lot of providers are also over the price cap so Bristol Energy is still far from expensive.
*figure based on a 2-3 bed house with 3 occupants in central London. Figures will vary depending on the region, house size and number of occupants.
Extra Services: Bristol Energy smart meters & more
We’ve covered energy tariffs, but that isn’t all energy companies offer customers these days, and Bristol Energy is no different. From smart meters and the warm home discount, to charity donations and the Bristol Energy Hub, let’s break down all the extra services you can get from Bristol Energy.
Does Bristol Energy do smart meters?
Yes. Bristol Energy supports and will install smart meters. In 2018 and the first half of 2019, it was installing 1st generation smart meters, known as SMETS1, but as of May 2019, it has switched to SMETS2. Right now, the supplier is only installing the meters in households of customers with priority, but it hopes to be able to offer them to all customers by the end of 2020.
If you have an energy tariff with Bristol Energy and would like a smart meter installed in your household, click the button below and complete the application to request a smart meter.
Will Bristol Energy support my existing smart meter?
If you are considering switching to Bristol Energy and already have a smart meter, one of two things will happen:
- Bristol Energy uses Secure smart meters. If you have a Secure smart meter, it will continue to work as normal when you make the switch.
- If you do not have a Secure smart meter, the meter will continue to function but will likely lose its ‘smart’ ability. In other words, you will have to submit your meter readings online and your In-Home Display might stop working.
Bristol Energy does not currently support the following meters, although it hopes this will change in the near future:
- 3-phase meters
- Dynamically tele-switching meters (DTS)
- Related meters or MPANs when you have two meters that work interdependently
Does Bristol energy do warm home discount?
Bristol Energy does offer the Warm Home Discount. As it has less than 250,000 customers, it does not have to take part in the government scheme, but sticking to its values of helping those in need, the supplier has volunteered to join in. To find out more about the scheme, including who is eligible and how to apply, read Selectra’s Warm Home Discount guide.
Additional help for vulnerable customers
As well as taking part in the Warm Home Discount scheme, Bristol Energy offers a number of additional services that are designed to help families with young children, pensioners, disabled customers and people suffering from chronic illness. The following services are just a selection of how Bristol Energy tries to help such customers:
- Priority Services Register - this ensures vulnerable customers are forewarned and helped first in the case of energy related emergencies, such as power cuts.
- Intermediary Nomination Scheme - bills can be sent to a nominated family member/friend instead of the customer if needed.
- Gas Safety Checks - customers receiving means tested benefits can ask for a free gas safety check if they have not had one within the last 12 months.
- Move Prepayment Meter - if a customer is unable to or has difficulty accessing their meter due to its location, Bristol Energy will move it for free (providing it is practical to do so).
Charities and funds
Giving back to the local community as promised, Bristol Energy tries to support local charities. Currently its chosen charity is Caring in Bristol, which offers help and aid to the homeless in the city. If you quote ‘caring’ when switching to Bristol Energy, the supplier will donate £30 to the charity.
Similarly, its Fuel Good Fund is designed to help households who are in fuel poverty. If you quote ‘Fuelgood’ when signing up for a tariff, it will donate £15 to the fund. You can get your energy and help those in need too.
Bristol Energy Hub
The Bristol Energy Hub is the suppliers unique customer service point based in the centre of Bristol. Here customers can drop in and meet with someone face to face for:
- help to pay energy bills
- help to understand energy bills
- information on switching energy suppliers
- advice on being more energy efficient
As its located in Bristol, this is probably more a service for customers living in the area, but there is nothing stopping anyone paying a visit if they wish. The hub is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, except Wednesday when it opens at 10am, inside the Bristol Energy offices.
Bristol Energy Hub:
Bristol Energy Ltd
100 Temple Street
Bristol Energy contact details
Whether you’re a customer experiencing a problem with your smart meter or a non-customer with a burning question about a Bristol Energy tariff, getting in touch with Bristol Energy is the best way to get it resolved. All the available contact methods are listed in the table below:
|Reason for contact||Bristol Energy phone number||Bristol Energy email address|
|Customer care||0808 281 2222 (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm)||email@example.com|
|Sales and renewals||0808 189 4072 (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Business customers||0808 168 3888 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)||email@example.com|
|General queries||0808 281 2222 (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
Like with most suppliers today, you can also reach out to Bristol Energy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Log in to your account
You do not need to ring Bristol Energy simply to submit meter readings (yay!). You can do this, and more, through the supplier’s online account system. For a step by step guide on how to log in to your account, check out our Bristol Energy login page (coming soon).
Bristol Energy app
Bristol Energy have recently introduced an app through which customers can check their account balance, bills, energy usage and even submit meter readings wherever and whenever they want. Find out more about the Be Connected App, and how to download it, in our Bristol Energy login page (linked to above).
Reviews and verdict: what do the customers say?
Good news for Bristol Energy, reviews online are weighted more towards the positive than the negative. Customers praise its good customer service, claiming call centre staff are very friendly and helpful. Where reviews really shine is price, with customers consistently giving the supplier top marks for value for money.
Some customers, but by no means all, complain about Bristol Energy’s billing system, stating they have received a number of inaccurate bills. However, this is an issue the supplier is aware of and is working to resolve by improving its billing system and making its meter reading submission process easy and more accurate.
For a more detailed analysis of Bristol Energy reviews, including a break down of reviews based on customer service, value for money, billing and complaints handling, give Selectra’s Bristol Energy Reviews page (coming soon) a read.
Bringing everything into consideration - price, customer reviews, fuel mix and extra features, we award Bristol Energy a rating of 2/5.
This might seem a low score, but it represents that while Bristol Energy is heading in the right direction, it still has room for improvement across the board. For example, its pricing is reasonable but not the cheapest on the market, its fuel mix is better than the average, but some suppliers are already using 100% renewable energy.
These areas for improvement do not need to be deal breakers. Bristol Energy still delivers a good service for a competitive price with a good choice of extra services. However, development in such areas will help it compete with other better known suppliers and offer customers that little bit more.
Bristol Energy Selectra score - ★★
|Reasonable and competitive pricing||Negative reviews online hint at problems with billing|
|Lots of helpful extra services, especially for vulnerable customers, e.g. warm home discount||Continued failure to return a profit puts long-term future of company in doubt|