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Best energy supplier 2021: The best British energy providers to choose in 2021

Cathy Hudson
23 Sep 2021
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If you’re on an out-of-contract energy tariff, save money by switching to one of the top energy suppliers of 2021

Energy bills are unavoidable, but you could be paying more than you need to if you’ve never switched or you haven’t switched for a while. Not all energy suppliers are created equal: there are huge differences between the best and worst in terms of customer service and the cost of the deals they offer.

To identify the best energy suppliers, we asked readers of Expert Reviews to fill in a survey to tell us what they thought of their providers. We asked them whether they would recommend them to others and how happy they were with their customer support, value for money and bills.

In addition, suppliers have been fitting gas and electricity smart meters in people’s homes since 2016 to automate the meter reading process and let customers monitor energy usage in real-time. We asked our survey participants whether they use a smart meter to get an idea of which providers have made the most progress.

Read on for our essential guide to choosing the best energy supplier, as well as reviews of the top providers of 2021 in Great Britain according to our research and the cost of the pay-monthly tariffs they currently offer.

We’ve also included their complaints data from the energy regulator Ofgem so you can see how they compare for the number of complaints they receive and how good they are at dealing with them.


Important update

Following a stratospheric rise in wholesale gas prices in September 2021, Avro Energy has now gone out of business.

The company, which scored highly in our supplier roundup for its customer service and value, had roughly 580,000 customers around the UK. If you were one of them, you will still receive energy while industry regulator Ofgem finds a new supplier for you. Unfortunately, this could result in you being moved onto a more expensive plan. 

Ofgem recommends that Avro Energy's former customers refrain from switching to a new supplier until they're contacted by the one appointed by Ofgem, which might take a couple of weeks. Again, customers will continue to receive energy in the meantime. 

We'll update this section if there's more news about Avro Energy and the original article continues below.


Best energy supplier: At a glance


How to choose the best energy supplier for you

Switching providers is usually straightforward. In fact, 80% of people in our survey who had switched said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the way the process was handled at both ends. Given that you could also save money by switching, there’s very little reason not to consider it – especially if you haven’t done so in a while.

How can I compare prices?

Getting a cheaper deal is likely to be your main consideration when you’re switching, so start by looking at prices. If you’re on your supplier’s out-of-contract default variable tariff, you’ll almost certainly save; although a price cap applies to these, they’re not the cheapest tariffs available.

Using a price-comparison site is the easiest way to do this, but bear in mind that they might not show you every available tariff and that some are exclusive to specific comparison sites. They may also start by only showing you the tariffs they can help you switch to, which will earn them commission, but you can usually filter your results to also see tariffs you can switch to directly with the supplier.

You’ll need to enter your address to get quotes as prices can vary in different areas. To get an accurate idea of how much you could save by switching, you’ll need to enter the suppliers and tariffs you’re currently with and how much gas and electricity you use in a year, which you can find on your annual statement. Comparison sites can help you estimate your usage if you don’t have these details to hand.

You may want to consider using an auto-switching service instead, such as Flipper or Look After My Bills. These are relatively new and will switch you to the best deal if you agree to it. They will then regularly check whether there are better deals you could switch to. It’s worth checking the terms and conditions, which energy suppliers it works with and whether it’s a free or paid-for service before you sign up.

If you want to make sure you get good customer service as well as a cheap deal, consider choosing one of the best suppliers we’ve highlighted below, even if they’re not the very cheapest.

Once you’ve chosen a company to switch to, it will handle the switching process for you. It can usually be completed within three weeks.

Should I choose a fixed or variable deal?

Fixed tariffs, where your energy costs are fixed for a period of time – usually one or two years – are often the cheapest around, but not always, so check variable deals as well. The downside of variable deals is that your energy bills could go up as well as down.

Some fixed tariffs have exit fees if you switch during the deal period, so check this before you take one out. You can’t be charged 49 days or fewer before the end of your contract, though.

Should I choose a renewable tariff?

Many of us are keen to do our bit for the planet by choosing “green” energy generated from renewable sources such as the wind or sun. Most suppliers now offer at least one 100% renewable electricity tariff and some also sell “green” gas made from organic waste or carbon-offset gas.

You won’t necessarily pay more for a renewable tariff – they’re often some of the cheapest available – but this can mean different things. Some energy providers generate their own renewable electricity, invest in generating it or buy it from generators, while others simply buy certificates to show that the same amount has been generated that is used by their customers. Check which applies to a supplier you’re considering if this is important to you.

The energy coming into your home is also not guaranteed to be renewable since all the electricity generated goes into the National Grid and can’t be distinguished from that generated by non-renewable sources. However, by choosing a renewable tariff you’re showing support for renewable electricity to be produced.

What other ways are there to get a cheaper energy deal?

You may be able to get a cheaper deal by getting your gas and electricity from the same provider with a dual-fuel tariff, choosing to pay by monthly direct debit or agreeing to paperless billing. Some of the cheapest tariffs are also only available if you have a smart meter.

You’ll usually pay more for energy if you have a prepayment or pay-as-you-go meter so consider switching to paying by monthly direct debit instead if you can. This will often involve a credit check. Unless you have a smart prepayment meter, you’ll need to have your meter replaced to do this.

READ NEXT: The best smart bulbs for lighting up your home

The best energy suppliers in 2021

1. Octopus Energy: The ultimate choice for customer service, value and more

Octopus Energy was victorious across the board in our Energy Awards, coming top for the proportion of people who would recommend it to others – with 96% saying they would – and winning our award for the best supplier overall.

It also won almost every other award, including for Best Customer Support, with 92% saying they were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied. Similarly, 91% of customers were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the value for money their tariff represented, while a total of 94% were satisfied with how easy their bills were to understand and 96% with how accurate they were. It had the third-highest percentage of customers with a smart meter (42%), although some may have been installed by a previous supplier.

To be the overall winner, a supplier must have received fewer complaints per 100,000 customer accounts than the industry average according to the latest Ofgem data and have resolved at least 50% of them by the end of the next working day and at least 80% within eight weeks. Octopus easily achieved this, receiving less than a third of the number of complaints than the average across all suppliers.

Octopus was launched in 2016 and is now one of Britain’s largest energy suppliers. All of its electricity is 100% renewable and it invests in renewable generation. None of its deals have exit fees. It also offers carbon-offset gas on some of its tariffs.

Switch to Octopus Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffsFlexible OctopusOctopus FixedSuper Green Octopus
Annual cost£1,080.73 (£90.06 a month)£1,121.30 (£93.44 a month)£1,126.34 (£93.86 a month)
Fixed/variableVariableFixed for 2 yearsFixed for 2 years
Renewable tariff?Yes - 100% renewable electricityYes - 100% renewable electricityYes - 100% renewable electricity; gas fully carbon offset
Exit feesNoneNoneNone

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900kWh of electricity per year and 12,000kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Correct as of 21 June 2021.

Ofgem complaints data

Complaints per 100,000 customer accountsIndustry average complaints per 100,000 customer accountsComplaints resolved by end of next working dayComplaints resolved within eight weeks
4881,62957%88%

Notes: Data is for the first three months of 2021.

2. Avro Energy: Great value with clear and accurate bills

Avro Energy won Highly Commended awards in our best overall category as well as for its customer support, value for money and bills.

Although it didn’t have the very highest percentage of customers in our survey who said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with its value for money – it was two percentage points below the top supplier Octopus Energy, at 89% – it came out as the cheapest of the three best suppliers for our scenario below.

Its customers were impressed with how easy its bills are to understand and how accurate they are, with a total of 83% satisfied for both. It was also the second most likely to be recommended in our survey – 84% said they would recommend it to others.

Ofgem data shows it gets a very small number of complaints with just 235 per 100,000 customer accounts compared to the industry average of 1,629 and is excellent at resolving them. It dealt with a massive 87% by the end of the next working day and almost all of them within eight weeks.

Avro says it aims to offer some of the lowest energy prices in the UK and to keep things simple by avoiding jargon. Unlike many other suppliers, it doesn’t offer a 100% renewable-electricity tariff. According to its latest fuel mix figures for 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, 8.3% of the energy it supplies is from renewable sources.

Switch to Avro Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffSimple and Flow12M
Annual cost£1,035.20 (£86.27 a month)
Fixed/variableFixed for 1 year
Renewable tariff?No
Exit feesNone

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900kWh of electricity per year and 12,000kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Correct as of 21 June 2021.

Ofgem complaints data

Complaints per 100,000 customer accountsIndustry average complaints per 100,000 customer accountsComplaints resolved by end of next working dayComplaints resolved within eight weeks
2351,62987%98%

Notes: Data is for the first three months of 2021.

3. Bulb Energy: Green energy and simple tariffs

Coming third in almost all our award categories, Bulb Energy received Highly Commended awards for best overall, best customer support, best value and best bills.

It received its lowest scores for customer support, with 69% of people in our survey saying they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with it, and value for money (71% Satisfied or Very Satisfied), but wasn’t far behind Avro for how easy its bills are to understand and how accurate they are – a total of 81% were satisfied with both.

The vast majority of its customers (79%) would also recommend it to others.

Bulb, which like Octopus is one of Britain’s largest suppliers, received a very high number of complaints according to Ofgem data, with almost double the industry average. It didn’t do so well at resolving them by the end of the next working day either, at less than half, but 96% were resolved within eight weeks.

All of Bulb’s electricity is 100% renewable and bought from generators, and all of its gas is carbon-offset. For simplicity it offers just two variable tariffs – one for pay-monthly customers and one for pay-as-you-go. It doesn’t offer fixed deals or tie you into a contract and there are no exit fees.

Switch to Bulb Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffVari-Fair
Annual cost£1,124.30 (£93.69 a month)
Fixed/variableVariable
Renewable tariff?Yes – 100% renewable electricity; gas fully carbon offset
Exit feesNone

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900kWh of electricity per year and 12,000kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Correct as of 21 June 2021.

Ofgem complaints data

Complaints per 100,000 customer accountsIndustry average complaints per 100,000 customer accountsComplaints resolved by end of next working dayComplaints resolved within eight weeks
3,2651,62947%96%

Notes: Data is for the first three months of 2021.

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