Ebico is not a well-known name in the UK energy market, but if you want a supplier with a social conscience, it could be the one for you. A not-for-profit provider working hard to help those who struggle to pay their energy bills - whilst also offering 100% green electricity - Ebico is a small energy supplier with big ambitions. Read on to learn more.
Ebico: What is Ebico?
Ebico is a small energy supplier based in Oxfordshire. Created over twenty years ago to challenge the Big Six suppliers, offer affordable energy tariffs and tackle fuel poverty, it was the first not-for-profit energy supplier in the UK. While other similar not-for-profit suppliers now exist, the idea is still rare meaning Ebico remains one of the special few.
What does the not-for-profit business idea mean? Basically, all of the profit Ebico makes from selling its energy tariffs goes into funding projects that fight fuel poverty in local communities. As a Limited Guarantee Company, it does not have any shareholderpockets to fill - every year its surplus helps those suffering from fuel poverty through its own charity, the Ebico Trust.
Twenty years on from its creation, Ebico continues to work towards helping as many households as possible pay their energy bills. Staying true to its affordable energy founding principle, it’s continuously developing innovative energy tariffs that help customers save on their bills. For example, it was the first and only energy supplier to offer a tariff with zero standing charges! We will talk about this in more detail later, but first let’s take a look at the suppliers history, fuel mix and partnership with Robin Hood Energy.
History of Ebico
Following the privatisation of the UK’s energy sector in the 1990s, six energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE - emerged as the leaders in the newmarket, continuously driving up energy bills for households across the country. In response, small challenger companies started to sprout up. Marketing themselves as an alternative to the Big Six, these suppliers offered cheaper prices and opened up the market by giving customers more choice.
Ebico was (and is) one of these challenger suppliers. Founded in 1998, it aimed to offer affordable energy plans, giving customers who were struggling to foot their energy bills with the Big Six a more economical option.
As the first not-for-profit energy supplier in the UK, it definitely set itself apart. Its profits were poured back into local communities to fight fuel poverty and in 2009 it set up its own charity, the Ebico Trust, to further this goal. It is now a fully certified Social Enterprise, meaning its success is measured in terms of reinvested profits and social objectives, as opposed to returned profit.
- 1998 - Ebico is created to offer affordable energy tariffs and help consumers affected by fuel poverty.
- 2009 - The Ebico Trust is founded, helping Ebico further its goal of putting all of its profits into the fight against fuel poverty.
- 2017 - Robin Hood Energy, another ethical energy supplier focused on reinvesting its profits, becomes Ebico’s official energy supplier.
Ebico and Robin Hood Energy
Ebico does not supply its own energy. Instead it chooses a licenced partner that supplies energy to its customers on Ebico’s behalf. As of January 2017, this has been Robin Hood Energy (before this it was SSE - yes, one of the Big Six!)
Like Ebico, Robin Hood Energy is a small, not-for-profit, energy supplier with no shareholders. Owned by Nottingham City Council, its profits go to helping those in its local community, but it offers affordable energy to households across the UK.
As well as being Ebico’s licenced supply partner, Robin Hood Energy also aids the supplier’s customer service and provides all of its account management services.
Two in one! When you sign up for an Ebico tariff, you’re also entering into a partnership with Robin Hood Energy. It’s probably worth finding out a bit more about your ‘second energy supplier’ - check out our Robin Hood Energy profile for more information.
As Robin Hood Energy is Ebico’s licensed energy supplier, we have to turn to its fuel mix to see what sources make up the energy Ebico customers receive - and we have some good news! Robin Hood Energy uses 100% green electricity, which means that all of the electricity Ebico customers use comes from renewable sources. More specifically, it all comes from UK based wind and solar generation.
Ebico: fuel mix - ★★★★★
By choosing Robin Hood Energy as its supplier, Ebico has shown that it is not only committed to tackling fuel poverty, but also helping Britain go green. Its priorities sure seem to be in the right place!
Ebico in the news
Has Ebico made headlines for good or bad reasons? From our research, it appears to be a bit of both. For example, in early 2019, the supplier was in the news for good reasons. Alongside four other small energy suppliers, it featured as a top five supplier in Which?’s annual customer satisfaction survey, beating all of the Big Six.
Conversely, it has also featured in a number of news articles for raising its prices. In 2018, it made headlines for ending its famous zero standing charge variable tariff, claiming it was no longer ‘commercially viable’ in light of Ofgem’s price cap. Similarly, when Ofgem announced it would raise the price cap in 2019, Ebico was one of the first suppliers to announce its prices would rise in response (by 16% for variable tariffs).
Ebico is by no means the only supplier to increase its prices as a result of changes to the price cap - most suppliers have done so - but it is never nice to hear that a supplier based on affordable tariffs is raising its prices.
Ebico energy tariffs and prices
Ebico’s energy tariffs (called ‘energy plans’ on its website) are designed to be reasonably and competitively priced. Before looking at if this is the case, let’s take a quick look at what type of tariffs it offers.
Ebico sells fixed rate tariffs, variable tariffs and one pay-as-you-go tariff. These tariffs are available as stand-alone electricity and gas tariffs, as well as dual fuel tariffs. For electricity and dual fuel tariffs, Economy 7 is also available if you have an Economy 7 meter. There are also a number of payment options, including monthly direct debit, variable direct debit and pay on receipt of bill.
The supplier is quite famous for its zero standing charge tariff. The price of most energy tariffs are made up of a unit rate (the price of energy per KwH) and a standing charge (a set amount charged daily or per KwH). Getting rid of the standing charge made Ebico’s energy tariff a lot cheaper, however, the original zero standard charge variable tariff is no longer available.
Due to costs, Ebico now only offers a zero standard charge fixed rate tariff. You can find a more detailed analysis of this energy plan, and all the other tariffs Ebico sells, in Selectra’s dedicated Ebico tariffs guide.
How do the Ebico energy tariffs compare to Ofgem’s price cap?
Now we turn to price - how do Ebico’s tariffs fare against Ofgem’s energy price cap? Ofgem’s price cap is designed to protect new customers by restricting the amount energy suppliers can charge them for their energy. As Ebico prides itself on offering affordable tariffs, we would expect all of its tariffs to come in under the price cap. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case.
Comparing the price of Ebico’s standard variable tariff for a 3 bedroom house in London, we found that it comes in, on average, a disappointing £83.56* above the price cap. We must note that a variable standard tariff is usually a supplier’s most expensive tariff, therefore it is very likely that Ebico’s fixed rate tariffs are below the price cap. However, we’ve carried out this comparison with all other suppliers in the UK using their standard tariffs and a number have still come in under the price cap (Octopus Energy, Bulb Energy, Together Energy and Bristol Energy for example - some of these even offer 100% green energy too).
We are disappointed that Ebico’s standard tariff comes in above the price cap, but, following the supplier’s price hikes, perhaps this should not be too much of a surprise. Ebico’s fixed rate tariffs might be a lot more reasonable, but if you want a variable tariff, there are definitely cheaper options.
*figure based on a 2-3 bed house with 3 occupants in London. Figures will vary depending on the region, house size and number of occupants.
The price of your energy bills depends on your energy usage. Find out how much energy you are using with Selectra’s energy consumption calculator.
Ebico extra services: smart meters & more
It’s not just energy tariffs that consumers look for when comparing suppliers. While these are a key part, the extras a supplier offers, such as the Warm Home Discount or devices that help save energy, can be swing factors too. With this in mind, we break down all the additional services Ebico offers customers.
Smart meters: do Ebico do smart meters?
Ebico supports and is installing smart meters. It supports both smart prepayment meters (which means you pay for your energy as you go), and smart credit meters (where you have credit in your account and pay your bills using this credit).
Like all suppliers offering smart meters, Ebico is in the process of installing smart meters in customer households. It’s working its way through the UK region-by-region and will get in touch with you when it starts in your area.
What if you already have a smart meter?
Ebico does not state on its website what brand of smart meters it supports. If the supplier does not support your smart meter, you can still switch to them, but your meter will lose its smart abilities and become a ‘dumb’ meter. The best way to see if Ebico supports your smart meter is to give them a ring on the number listed below.
Ebico smart meters
A call agent will be able to give you more information about Ebico smart meters
0800 028 6699
Please check with your phone company for the charge of the call
Warm Home Discount
With Ebico’s ethical nature and social conscience, it should come as no surprise that it is part of the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme. However, there is a caveat. Ebico only offers the discount to the Core Group (not the Broader Group).
If you fall in the Core Group category, you do not need to apply for the Warm Home Discount. The Department of Work and Pensions will let Ebico know who is eligible and the supplier will automatically add the £140 to your account.
Are you eligible for the Warm Home Discount? Do you belong to the Core Group or Broader Group? Find out in our handy Warm Home Discount guide.
Priority Service Register (PSR)
This is a service designed for vulnerable customers, such as those who have reached pension age, those who are disabled and those who are chronically ill. As the name ‘register’ implies, eligible customers can have their names put on a list that ensures they get priority in the case of an emergency. For example, if there is a power cut, services will work to get the power to these households up and running first.
The Ebico Trust
The Ebico Trust is a registered charity that was set up by Ebico in 2009 as a way to better support and finance its fuel poverty fighting projects. The charity now works with numerous organisations to fund projects across the UK.
For example, through its Affordable Warmth project (August 2018- August 2020), it’s funding Beat the Cold (a charity in Stoke on Trent) to:
- offer free home visits where it can advise on more efficient energy usage
- help people find the best energy tariff for their energy usage and needs
- provide free or low-cost house insulation
- help those suffering from fuel-poverty access the Warm Home Discount
- help people in arrears to negotiate realistic repayment plans
Whether you’re an existing customer or are considering switching to Ebico, it’s possible you'll have questions for the supplier. From issues related to your account to questions on the switching process, you can get in touch with Ebico’s customer service over the phone, through email or even by sending a letter.
If you need to reach out to Ebico, you can find all the contact details you need on our Ebico contact page.
Account management: login and app
Ebico customers have access to a handy online account system where they can manage their energy tariff, such as:
- View bills
- Make payments
- Submit meter readings
- Track energy usage
All customers, except those on a prepayment tariff, can also use the newly developed Ebico app to manage their account from their phone or tablet.
For more information on the new app, plus a step by step guide on how to log in to your Ebico online account or register for one in the first place, head to our Ebico login page. Here we answer all your account management related questions.
Ebico as a whole: reviews and verdict
Online reviews of Ebico are generally positive, but we have spotted dissatisfied customers in terms of pricing, billing and even customer service. While the majority of customers report excellent customer service and consider the supplier to be great value for money (awarding it top marks for this factor in Which?’s 2018 customer satisfaction survey), some customers express great displeasure in Ebico’s price increases, and others report unhelpful and rude customer service.
A trend we’ve noticed is an increase in unhappy customers since Robin Hood Energy became Ebico’s licenced supplier. As well as supplying energy, Robin Hood Energy has taken on certain account management services, such as meter readings and billing.Perhaps customer complaints are simply a reaction to certain changes under Robin Hood Energy (no-one likes change after all), or are the bad reviews justified? Head to our Ebico reviews page to find out more.
Taking all factors into account (reviews, price, fuel mix and extra services, such as smart meters and energy saving technology), Selectra gives Ebico an overall score of 2/5 .
It gets top marks for fuel mix, and we can’t praise the supplier enough for its work to help those living in fuel poverty. However, we think its prices could be cheaper and it can improve its customer service. It’s extra services also let it down slightly. While it supports smart meters, offers the Warm Home Discount and has recently developed an app, we would love it if it could offer some energy saving technology too. This would help make its customers more energy efficient, aiding in the supplier’s ongoing fight against fuel poverty.
Ebico Selectra score - ★★
|100% green electricity||Standard tariff is above Ofgem’s price cap (according to our calculations)|
|Innovative zero standing charge fixed tariff||Customer reviews hint at drop in performance since partnership with Robin Hood Energy|