There are currently 162 energy suppliers operating in Great Britain catering to residential customers across the country, but which one do you choose? For years, the biggest energy suppliers in the land were the unchallenged masters of the energy markets, but that’s all starting to change. Smaller, independent companies are now starting to claw back their share of the market with their cheaper and overall, better tariffs. Let’s find out a little bit about the current situation!
The Big Six
The ‘Big Six’ refers to the six gas and electricity companies that currently hold around 85% market share in the UK. For years, they were unchallenged and happy to reign in their ‘oligopoly’. These companies are as follows:
- British Gas (23% market share)
- Eon (15% market share)
- SSE (15% market share)
- EDF Energy (12% market share)
- Scottish Power (11% market share)
- Npower (10% market share)
Despite their largely uncontested reign for over 20 years, The Big Six is beginning to crumble. Smaller, independent suppliers are beginning to take back control.
The issue with the Big Six over the years has been that their prices have been able to inflate massively without any great fluctuation in their customer base. As more people become aware of their right to switch, however, they are taking a bigger hit. Independents are getting a reputation for being simpler, quicker, cheaper and in general, better, which is causing huge problems for the bigger companies.
Now, we’ve seen the big suppliers, but who are the little terrors that are ruining all the fun? As mentioned above, there are 162 suppliers currently operating in the British residential energy markets, so apart from the big six companies above, the other 156 would come under this category right here.
A smaller, or independent supplier, in this sense, is one that is not owned by a huge backing of shareholders or, ultimately, who is not as big as the Big Six suppliers mentioned above. To name a few of the largest, here is a list of some of the independents currently operating in Great Britain:
- First Utility
- Ovo Energy
- iSupply Energy
- Co-operative Energy
- Utility Warehouse
- Flow Energy
Energy suppliers such as the abovementioned have put a huge emphasis, in general, on renewable energy and as they are not responsible for generation in the majority of cases, they are able to offer this supply at a much cheaper price. See below a trend graph of how independent companies have taken back market share:
It would be possible for the Big Six to offer this level of pricing on their own tariffs, but as they primarily focus on profit margins and generation profitability, they have maintained their highly inflated prices.
So which should you choose?
You’ve heard their names, but who is the best and who is the cheapest? Well, there’s no real answer for that that would stand the course of more than a month or so as prices and satisfaction levels rise and fall constantly. But, at present, we believe that the best deal comes through Tonik Energy. Given their rock bottom prices and sky high customer service levels, we believe that they offer the best possible tariffs at present.
Tonik Energy are an independent British-owned energy supplier that operate from Birmingham. All of their tariffs come with 100% renewable electricity and some even with renewable gas. One of the best attributes is also their top level customer service that has received 5 star reviews across all platforms.
What to look out for
When you make a comparison of available tariffs, it’s sometimes tempting to just go straight for the first, cheapest tariff you see. It may well be the one you go for in the end, but there are a few things that you should perhaps bear in mind first. Of course, if you switch with Selectra we’ll make sure you’re well aware of these things, but if you go elsewhere, be careful!
The two main contract types for dual fuel are fixed and variable. This refers to your unit rate, the amount you pay per unit of gas or electricity. If you opt for a variable tariff, your unit rate has the potential to rise or fall with wholesale prices and general market conditions, but if you have a fixed tariff, your unit rate will be locked in for your contract length (usually 1 or 2 years).
We recommend that you go for the fixed option. They are generally cheaper and variable tariffs almost always rise in price.
If you do opt for a fixed tariff and you think they may be the possibility of cancelling before your contract runs out, you should look into the exit fees. These are usually per fuel and will be incurred if you want to cancel your contract before the agreed date.
A standard exit fee will be in the region of £30 per fuel, but vary depending on supplier and tariff. Most suppliers do have them, but some, like EDF Energy, don’t attach exit fees to any of their tariffs.
If you would like to do your bit for the environment, you can usually opt for a renewable tariff for no extra cost. Most independent suppliers offer 100% renewable tariffs and a couple of the big six do, also. Having your energy delivered through renewable methods is a great way to support the move towards green energy generation.
Although you will not receive it to your home physically due to the common distribution infrastructure, your usage amount will be directly removed from fossil fuel demand. The more people that opt for renewable tariffs, the better our energy mix will become as a whole.
We’ve all been in the situation - you’re stuck on hold with a terrible outsourced customer service hotline, tearing your hair out hoping to the high heavens that your issue be resolved. Make sure that you don’t get yourself into another one of the situations by choosing a company that has high customer service ratings.
It just so happens that the most popular suppliers in the country have some of the worst satisfaction ratings. Perhaps have a change and go with a smaller supplier that impresses with its customer service levels.