With a long history of providing energy to British homes, British Gas has transformed beyond all recognition since its beginnings in the early nineteenth century. Read on for everything you need to know about the provider, including how to contact British Gas customer service and a breakdown of British Gas Homecare and Tariffs.
About British Gas
British Gas is without question the UK’s largest energy supplier, providing gas and electricty to almost 12 million homes. So how did it get there and where did it all begin? Read on to discover the long history of British Gas all the way from 1812 up to 2021.
1. The History of British Gas
Although British Gas was founded in 1986 as a public limited company (plc), its roots date back about 200 years, making it one of the world’s oldest energy companies. The timeline below illustrates just some of the important events in the long and eventful history of British Gas.
- 1812 - The Gas Light & Coke Company (GLCC), the first public utilities company in the world, is set up.
- 1816 - Preston becomes first town in the UK becomes illuminated by gas street lights.
- 1870 - The first gas prepayment meter is designed.
- 1947 - The British coal industry is nationalised.
- 1948 - The gas industry is nationalised, therefore dividing the nation’s gas activity into 12 regional gas boards. This ends the GLCC.
- 1957 - With the introduction of the Clean Air Act, gas fires become more common for heating.
- 1972 - The gas council is discontinued and replaced with the British Gas Corporation.
- 1986 - The gas industry is privatised by the Thatcher government, forming British Gas plc. The ‘Tell Sid’ campaign is launched to promote investment in British Gas.
- 1994 - British Gas re-structured.
- 1997 - British Gas separated into two different companies, ‘Centrica plc’ and ‘British Gas plc’.
- 1998 - British Gas begins selling electricity to customers.
- 2014 - Ofgem rules that British Gas is to pay £1 million in compensation to people who had been mis-sold British Gas energy tariffs.
- 2016 - British Gas loses 224,000 customers in just three months.
- 2018 - British Gas loses 100,000 customers in five months.
- 2020 - Covid-19 and Work-From-Home pushes people to review their energy tariffs. British gas looses 144,000 customers to low-cost rivals.
- 2021 - Despite losing customers, profits soar by 121% due to a reduction in costs due to Covid-19 related measures.
2. Present day
Today, British Gas continues to be the main supply brand for the Centrica conglomerate. Instantly identifiable by their distinctive British Gas vans, their intelligent branding and marketing have made the company one of the most-recognized household names of the last 30 years.
British Gas is still the largest supplier in the UK, but recent years have taken a toll on the energy giant. Smaller competitors with lower prices, higher wholesale costs, and the recent national price cap set up by Ofgem have each cut heavily into British Gas’ bottom line.
Even so, British Gas still has a comfortable majority of the UK energy market. The latest statistics (from July 2021) showed that it had a 26.6% share of the domestic gas market and 18.2% of the electricity market. E.ON is the nearest competitor for gas customers and has a market share of only 14.3%. It’s a similar story in the electricity sector, where E.ON trails British Gas with a market share of 15.1%.
3. Who owns British Gas?
British Gas is 100% owned by Centrica, which also owns, wholly or partially, another 14 subsidiaries.
Centrica generates the large majority of its own energy supply, which makes profit margins much higher. Due to Centrica’s ownership of eight generation subsidiaries, purchasing energy from the wholesale market does not make a great deal of sense. Through these subsidiaries, it also makes a substantial profit by selling their excess energy to other supply companies.
Currently, British Gas sources 44% of its gas supply from the North Sea and Irish Sea. The remaining supply is either pumped across Europe from places like Norway and Russia, making up 47% of British Gas supply. The remaining 9% is imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which is transported in specially built tankers which keep the LNG at temperatures of below -160°C
4. British Gas Fuel Mix
In the following pie chart, you can see how British Gas sources its electricity. British Gas sports 76% renewables compared to the national average of 38%. The supplier does provide special tariffs that guarantee that the provider will offset 100% of the electricity consumed.
*Figures cover period between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
British Gas Services and Activities
There’s a lot more to British Gas than simply supplying energy to UK households. From boiler services to unblocking your drains, it seems that British Gas is on hand for any eventuality. The company even has a loyalty scheme and a charitable string to its bow. Read on to find out more.
1. British Gas HomeCare
In addition to electricity and gas tariffs, British Gas also offers a variety of HomeCare products to keep your heating and home electrics in good working order. These annual insurance policies range from basic boiler repairs all the way to fixing home electrical and wiring problems.
There are four levels of HomeCare cover, each of which includes an annual boiler service, unlimited engineer callouts, and a 24-hour helpline. The coverage is billed as a separate service from energy supplies.
2. British Gas Boiler Cover
One of British Gas’s HomeCare services is boiler cover. If you don’t have a boiler insurance policy, you should consider one for the following reasons:
- Save money if you need boiler repair
- Home insurance may not cover all boiler problems
- Landlords are legally obliged to ensure boilers and other heating elements are regularly serviced
3. British Gas New Boilers
British Gas also installs new boilers, and you don't even have to be a customer to take advantage of having a British Gas new boiler installed. British Gas can even split the payment of the new boiler to make it affordable with payment plans of up to five years.
British Gas employes more than 1,000 qualified engineers and an installation takes less than 30 minutes. You might also consider having a British Gas new boiler for the following reasons:
- Easy ways to pay
- Additional warranty on top of the manufactuer warranty
- Energy efficient boilers
- Installation carried out by qualified professionals
4. Home Insurance
British Gas Home Insurance is yet another string to the energy giant’s bow. Protect your rental property with buildings cover if you’re a landlord, choose contents insurance only if you live in a rented house or flat, or take out both buildings and contents insurance if you live in the home you own.
British Gas Home Insurance can also offer insurance for other purposes as well such as:
- Home Assistance - up to £1,000 of cover in case of urgent home repairs.
- Personal Possessions - cover for personal possessions such as watches, rings and bicycles when you're outside.
- Legal Expenses Cover - covering cases such as personal injury claims or employment disputes with up to £50,000 of cover.
- Key Cover - will provide up to £1,500 towards new locks and keys if your keys are lost or stolen.
- High Value Home Insurance - specialist bespoke cover for homes and contents that are of high value.
From time to time, British Gas offers discounts on home insurance to customers taking out a new policy who already receive their energy from British Gas. Keep an eye on the British Gas Home Insurance webpage for the current offers.
5. British Gas Rewards
British Gas Rewards is the company’s way of saying thank you to customers for sticking with them through thick and thin. Any British Gas energy customer is eligible to join the scheme.
To be part of the British Gas Rewards scheme you need to have an online British Gas account and sign up for paperless billing. There are no points to collect, you simply register and wait for the vouchers and discounts to arrive in your email inbox.
The longer you are a British Gas customer, the more special offers and discounts you can enjoy. For example, one of the British Gas Rewards on offer is a certain number of days of free energy per year, based on the number of years you have been a customer. Other benefits of the British Gas Rewards scheme include restaurant vouchers, discounts on family days out, and entries into prize draws.
6. British Gas Energy Trust
Through its Energy Trust, British Gas awards grants to help people who are struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a British Gas customer — you can still apply to the Energy Trust to help you with energy bill debt and related issues. Whether the debt is owed to British Gas or to other suppliers isn’t important. You just have to meet certain conditions to be eligible, such as:
- Resident of England, Wales, or Scotland
- Not recieved help from the British Gas Energy Trust in the last two years
- The debt must be for a current energy account in your name, or you must be a member of the household
- The request must be related to your main residence
- You are in debt for electricity and/or gas
- You have less than £1,000 savings
In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust also requires you meet the following criteria:
- You've received support from a financial advice agency
- You're in, or facing fuel poverty
7. British Gas and the Warm Home Discount
If British Gas is your current home energy provider, you may benefit from the Warm Home Discount. This is a scheme designed to reduce energy bills for households in fuel poverty by offering £140 towards your energy bills.
British Gas offers the scheme to people on low incomes who meet certain eligibility criteria, such as people receiving unemployment benefits. If that’s you, you can apply every year to receive the Warm Home Discount via British Gas. People who receive Guaranteed Pension Credit are automatically eligible for the Warm Home Discount.
Read our guide to British Gas Warm Home Discount to find out how to apply.
You can find out if you're eligible for other schemes in our guide to government energy funds.
8. Smart Homes
British Gas brings you right up to date with its range of smart home technology products. In conjunction with Hive products, British Gas offers solutions to help you control your central heating and electrical appliances from your smartphone. A smart home is more energy-efficient, cheaper to run, and kinder to the environment.
To transform your house into a British Gas smart home all you need is a broadband connection, a smartphone, and the Hive Welcome Home Plan, priced at £129 per year. You get a Hive Hub, which is like the control centre of your smart home; it plugs into your broadband router and makes it possible for your phone to communicate with your appliances. Plus you get a motion sensor, two smart dimmable energy saving light bulbs and a smart plug.
9. British Gas Smart Meters
Great Britain is currently undergoing a national rollout of smart meters. While the government had hoped for every household to have a smart meter by 2020, this has been pushed back due to delays in the rollout process.
Latest industry reports estimate that more than 90,000 smart meters are being installed on a weekly basis.
You can either log in to your British Gas account or contact the supplier to book an installation. If British Gas smart meters are not yet available in your area, you’ll be notified by British Gas once the situation changes.
Smart meters can make monitoring and paying energy bills faster and easier. They have the following advantages compared to standard meters:
- Monitor energy use in near real-time
- Eliminate the need for estimated bills
- Allow customers to see (and change) energy-wasting habits
- Compatibility with smart grid technology and some solar panels
10. Feed-in Tariffs
While British Gas has offered Feed-in, or FiT, to customers in the past, the entire scheme has been scrapped for new applicants as of April 2019.
FiT began in 2010 and was designed to promote small-scale renewable energy production. Homes that generated their own electricity from renewables like solar panels would receive money for each kilowatt-hour generated, with additional money given for excess electricity that was added to the national grid.
The scheme was extremely successful, so much so that demand has outstripped the funds available as far more households have participated than previously expected. Because of the high costs, Ofgem ultimately decided to end the programme. The FIT scheme has been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee which allows suppliers to deicde how much to pay customers who are returning energy to the national grid.
Currently, aside from British Gas, the following suppliers participate in the Smart Export Guarantee:
- Social Energy
- Octopus Energy
- So Energy
- Ovo Energy
- Scottish Power
- EDF Energy
- Shell Energy
- Utility Warehouse
Are you already receiving FiT benefits? If you are, don’t panic. Although new applicants will not be considered, existing FiT contracts will be honoured for the length of the original agreements.
British Gas Tariffs
What are all the tariff options and what's the difference between them all? Fixed tariffs and variable tariffs are the ones you see most often from energy providers, and British Gas is no different. Many providers now offer eco tariffs, where the energy comes from renewable sources. Read more in our British Gas tariffs guide.
1. Fixed tariffs
Fixed rate tariffs offer peace of mind. Unless you have nothing better to do than pore over reams of energy bills, they are the most convenient option. Fixed tariffs will keep the unit rates and standing charges constant for the length of the period the customer signed up for, which is normally one or two years.
The downside of a fixed tariff is that if the wholesale price of energy falls dramatically, you end up paying more than you would have if you were on a variable tariff. Overall, you need to weigh up the advantage of knowing that your rates aren't going to change for a year or two against the possibility of saving money if variable rates decrease significantly.
2. Variable tariffs
Variable tariffs can change according to trends in the wholesale energy market. This could allow potential savings if wholesale energy goes down in price, although prices could also go up, as they have done regularly in the past.
Variable tariffs are also protected by the price cap, which is currently set at £1,277. Due to the energy crisis, standard variable tariffs are actually more competitive than some fixed tariffs.
A ‘standard variable tariff’ is what you will revert to when your fixed rate tariff comes to an end.
3. Eco Tariffs
British Gas has several tariffs with the word ‘green’ in the name, which denotes their environmentally friendly nature.
British Gas green tariffs include a commitment by the supplier to offset carbon emissions created by 100% of the electricity used in each household.
The way British Gas offsets your carbon footprint is by putting money towards projects that cut carbon dioxide emissions. In return, British Gas receives Certified Emission Reduction Certificates to demonstrate how they have fulfilled their carbon footprint obligations.
4. Economy 7 Tariffs
Economy 7 is the generic name for tariffs with an off-peak overnight rate for electricity. The name comes from the seven-hour period where electricity is cheaper, usually from midnight to 7 a.m. in the winter months and 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. during the summer months.
The advantage of this kind of tariff is that if your lifestyle allows you to use most of your electricity at night, there are significant savings to be had. People who have electric cars might also be interested in an economy 7 tariff because you can make the most of the off-peak rate to charge your vehicle overnight.
5. Prepayment Tariffs
For customers who want to pay for their energy before they use it, prepayment tariffs are the answer.
British Gas offers one prepayment tariff for new customers. The advantage of a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) tariff is having more control over your energy bills, especially for people who find it difficult to budget for a monthly or quarterly bill. There is also the option of using emergency credit on your prepayment meter. This is for when you’ve run out of money - it should really only be used as a last resort!
What is Friendly Emergency Credit? Friendly Emergency Credit is automatically activated provided you had at least £0.01 regular credit at 6pm. Between 6pm until 9am, your electricity will not cut out. Friendly Emergency Credit will also cover you for the whole day on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Your next top-up will have to cover the Friendly Emergency Credit.
6. Business Tariffs
British Gas offers business energy tariffs and these could be up there with the most competitive on the market.
The rates, fees, and services offered to businesses depend on the amount of energy used per year. If a firm spends £100,000 on energy, they are considered a large business. British Gas offers bespoke services for their large business customers and guarantees a 24-hour response time to any query, no matter the time of day.
They also further separate their large business customers into those that spend over one million pounds per year and those that spend less. For these major accounts, British Gas provides a Customer Manager and Customer Executive to act as a single point of contact for the business account, providing your business with bespoke care.
If you want to find out more about business tariffs, we have more information on our British Gas tariffs page.
British Gas Contact
There are many ways to contact British Gas depending on what you want to contact them about. Whether it’s to speak with British Gas customer service or to discuss renewing your energy tariff, taking out boiler cover or querying something on your bill, British Gas has a different phone number for everything.
On this page you’ll find the most common ways to contact British Gas. If you need to discuss more specific queries, check our detailed guide to contacting British Gas to help you get through to the right person.
If you’re not a British Gas customer
The British Gas energy quote website is the first port of call for most people considering becoming a British Gas energy customer. Alternatively, you can phone them on 0333 202 9802 and select Option 3.
If you’re an existing British Gas customer
Is the British Gas 0333 number free? All calls to 800 numbers are free from mobiles and landlines but calls to 0330 or 0333 numbers will cost you, unless they are included in your phone deal. If you're unsure about how much calls will cost you, it's worth checking with your phone provider.
Calls to 0330/0333 numbers will cost you no more than 01 or 02 numbers from landlines and mobiles. If you get 'inclusive minutes' with your package, calls to 0330/0333 numbers will be part of these.
British Gas customers are encouraged to manage their energy accounts online. From your account, you can see all your bills, submit meter readings, book a boiler service, and put in a request to change tariffs.
If you’d rather speak to someone in person about your British Gas account, call the number below:
British Gas account enquiries Dial 0333 202 9802 and select Option 1.
- The British Gas head office is located Millstream, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 5GD
- The British Gas postal address for correspondence is PO Box 227, Rotherham, S98 1PD.
- The British Gas postal address for complaints is Complaints Management Team, PO Box 226, Rotherham, S98 1PB.
How do I speak to a real person from British Gas customer service? If you prefer speaking to a real person about an enquiry, you're certainly not alone. To reach a British gas customer service representative, you can call 0333 202 9802.
If you’re inseparable from your smartphone, you’ll be happy to hear that British Gas has its own app, which works on iPhones and Android phones. Once you’ve downloaded the app you can do the following, all without any calls or emails:
- Track your smart meter energy usage in nearly real time
- Set and monitor an energy-spend target
- Book a British Gas utility service
- Pay bills and monitor your account balance
You can submit a meter reading to British Gas online. You can find more information on British Gas's specific meter reading procedure on the company's website. There, you’ll find links and information on the following:
- Register and submit your first meter reading
- Submit a meter reading without registering
- Download the smartphone app
- Get more information on how to read gas and electricity meters
British Gas login
Are you a new or existing British Gas customer? If you’re looking to access your online account, just click the link below and type in the email that corresponds to your British Gas account, followed by the password. If you’ve forgotten your contact info, you can click on the “Forgotten your email?” button.
If you’re a new British Gas customer, you can use the same link below to set up a new account. Just start out by typing in your email address and follow the instructions that follow.
Once you are logged into the online portal with your username and password, you will be able to do the following:
- Manage your energy bills
- See past usage details to gain insight into your energy usage habits
- Submit meter readings to get more accurate billing
- Book a free smart meter installation
British Gas Reviews
British Gas reviews are an important part of understanding how customers view the company. While some customers praise individual members of staff who work on the phone lines or carry out boiler repairs and services, there are also some less favourable reviews.
The Citizens Advice ranks British Gas as third out of the eight largest suppliers in the UK.
Information from Citizen's Advice Last Updated May 2021
To find out more, head to our dedicated British Gas reviews page.
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