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Essential Marketing Energy Supplier Survey 2020

6/10 households haven’t switched energy supplier in the last year

We conducted a survey of 1,000 energy customers

The Big Six

Who are the Big Six?

The Big Six are the UK’s biggest energy suppliers, they are:

  • British Gas
  • EDF
  • e.on
  • npower
  • Scottish Power
  • SSE

69% of customers get their energy from one of the Big Six.


British Gas are the most popular, serving 29% of the people we spoke to.

Just 41% had switched to a new supplier in the last 12 months.

23% between 1-2 years ago.

25% hadn’t switched in the last 2 years

10% have never switched

Households who haven’t switched within the last year are likely to be on standard variable tariffs (SVTs), which means they’re most likely paying more than they need to.

Who is the best energy supplier?

We asked respondents to rate their supplier across four different criteria. Suppliers are ranked in order, top to bottom.

SupplierValue for MoneyCustomer ServiceComplaints HandlingBill AccuracyWould RecommendOverall
octopus energy7.
shell energy7.

shell energy

(formerly First Utility)
bulb energy7.
ovo energy6.
british gas6.
scottish power6.

1,000 bill-paying customers surveyed. Survey conducted November 2020

Gas & Electricity Price Comparison – Hints, Tips, and Helpful Information

Save money on your energy bills

Utility bills make up a sizeable chunk of household expenditure for most of us. With gas and electricity prices rising year-on-year, it’s more important than ever to find a way to cut costs down.

By far the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to reduce what you spend is to switch to a new, cheaper tariff (or tariffs). Use our comparison engine to find out how much you could save by switching to a new supplier today – it’s free, only takes a few minutes, and you’re not committing to anything by comparing. Best of all, you could save hundreds of pounds off your annual bill!

How does (Essential marketing) energy comparison service work?

  1. Enter your postcodeso that we can make sure we’re showing you accurate prices
  2. Let us know a bit about your current tariffincluding who your provider is and how much you’re paying/using
  3. Choose a new tarifffrom the list we generate for you
  4. Follow the simple steps, relax and enjoy the savingsas us, your old supplier and your new one all handle the switch without you having to lift a finger

Types of gas and electricity tariff: single fuel or dual fuel

Most newer-build properties nowadays only use electricity, so owners don’t have to worry about getting a gas tariff at all. But those of us with both gas and electricity supplied to our home need to make a decision: get both fuels from the same supplier, on the same tariff, or take out two separate contracts.

Taking out a dual fuel tariff (with both gas and electricity from the same supplier) is definitely the simpler option. You’ll only have to pay one bill, and deal with one supplier – making your life a lot easier. And most of the time you’ll get a better price when you get both fuels together. This isn’t always the case though. If price really is the most important factor for you when choosing a new deal, then it’s worth comparing dual fuel tariff prices in your area with the price of two separate single fuel tariffs just to make sure.

Types of gas and electricity tariff: fixed rate or variable rate

The next choice you’ll need to make concerns how the price of your tariff is calculated. You’ve got two basic options:

Fixed Rate Energy Tariffs

With a fixed rate tariff, the price per unit of your gas or electricity is set in stone for a set period (typically between one and two years). Of course the actual amount you pay will depend on your usage, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge that at least that’s the only variable. You’ll be safe from any price hikes and while you also won’t benefit if prices drop, this doesn’t happen particularly often anyway.

Generally speaking, fixed rate tariffs mean lower prices, as well as security and predictability, and so are almost always the better option – though this isn’t always the case! Some suppliers, like Bulb, only offer a variable rate tariff, but it’s still cheaper than many other deals on the market – including many fixed rate deals.

Variable Rate Energy Tariffs

The price per unit on a variable rate tariff will fluctuate in line with wholesale energy prices, as well as any changes in running costs for suppliers which might result from policy changes, for example. In practise, suppliers tend to be much more inclined to pass on price rises than any price drops to customers.

The most common variable rate tariffs are default, or standard variable tariffs (SVTs). These tariffs, which customers end up on after fixed rate terms end, or when they move into a new property, are responsible for a significant portion of overcharging in the energy market. SVTs are invariably the most expensive tariffs offered by any supplier, and yet a large percentage of customers are signed up to them.

You could be on a standard variable tariff if:

  • You’ve just moved into a new property
  • You haven’t switched to a new supplier for over a year
  • You can’t remember when you last set up a tariff

What to look out for when comparing energy suppliers

If you’ve never switched before, it can seem a bit overwhelming. With a lot of different tariffs from a lot of different suppliers to choose from, and seemingly lot of information to take in, it can be tempting to just leave it and stick with what you’ve got.

But it really is a lot more straightforward than you might imagine. Here are a few key things to look out for when you do start comparing gas and electricity tariffs:

Tariff Comparison Rate

Since everyone’s usage is a bit different, it can be hard to properly judge the cost of any given tariff. Ofgem (the energy regulator) now make every supplier show what’s known as a Tariff Comparison Rate, or TCR, for each tariff. This gives you an estimated cost per unit (per kwh, or kilowatt hour) that includes any extra charges based on average usage so that you can easily compare one deal with another. The price indicated by the TCR is not final (as it will ultimately depend on your usage) but it will be uniform across different tariffs, making the comparison itself simple.

Exit Fees

If you’re on a fixed rate deal, and you choose to leave it before the set term is up, you’ll almost certainly be liable to pay exit fees to the supplier. The value will vary from supplier to supplier, but will typically be around £30 per fuel. Bear this in mind when you are comparing prices – if your prospective annual saving with a new supplier is £50, but you’re paying £60 to leave your current deal, then it’s probably worth waiting until the end of the term.

If you’re on a variable rate tariff, then you won’t have to pay exit fees. Additionally, some suppliers will offer to pay your exit fees for you if you switch to them, so keep an eye out.

Fuel Mix – Green Energy Suppliers

Climate change is a big issue nowadays. As such, a lot of customers are more and more keen on reducing their carbon footprint, and opting for an energy supplier who uses only or mostly renewable fuel sources is a great way to do this. Some suppliers, such as Bulb, Co-operative Energy, and Ecotricity, offer completely renewable energy.

Our website also has a number of helpful guides that cover everything you need to know about gas and electricity. These energy guides will answer all your questions about switching energy supplier. They will also tell you all about how to save money on gas and electricity in other ways, such as making your house more energy efficient and using different types of thermostats.

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