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Best energy supplier 2022: How to get the best energy deal

Cathy Hudson
26 May 2022
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Energy prices rocketed in 2021 so how can you make sure you’re on the cheapest deal for you and is it still worth switching?

Until summer 2021, if you were on an out-of-contract energy tariff you could have saved money by switching supplier, especially if you’d never switched or you hadn’t switched for a while.

But after wholesale gas prices, which are what suppliers pay for the gas they sell, increased to record levels in September 2021 and wholesale electricity prices followed, largely because of the amount of electricity produced by gas-fired power stations, everything changed.

Energy companies are limited in what they can charge customers for their energy because of the price cap set by the energy regulator Ofgem on their default tariffs – the standard variable rate you’ll be on if you’ve never switched, you came to the end of your fixed deal and did nothing or you were moved to another supplier because yours went bust.

It can change twice a year – on 1 April and 1 October – and is currently £1,277 a year for a dual-fuel customer paying by direct debit with average usage. It varies according to where you live so the actual cap that applies to you could be more or less than this. From 1 April it will be going up to £1,971, adding an extra £693 a year to bills for the average customer.

For prepayment customers the cap will be increasing from £1,309 to £2,017.

Around 22 million households are now on default tariffs. This number has grown from 15 million since the last price cap announcement in August 2021 as fixed deals have become less competitive due to the huge rise in energy prices and fewer people have switched.


Best energy supplier: At a glance


READ NEXT: See the results of our annual energy awards

Why have suppliers gone bust?

Wholesale energy costs is one factor Ofgem takes into account when deciding the price cap but the new cap is announced two months before it comes into effect and Ofgem looks at wholesale costs over the previous six months. This means the price cap since 1 October 2021 is actually based on wholesale prices from February to July 2021.

The cap increased by 12% between 1 April and 1 October but the prices energy suppliers pay went up by significantly more than this over the same period. In fact, they doubled.

Although suppliers buy some of their energy in advance, many struggled as they were not able to charge enough to cover the cost of the energy they were buying. Since September 2021, 25 have gone out of business as a result. Most of these were small suppliers, with the exception of medium-sized Avro Energy.

Bulb Energy also struggled but as this is one of the largest energy suppliers with 1.7 million customers it was placed into special administration, which means it can carry on trading as normal for now.

The price cap will be going up by 54% on 1 April so if you’re on a standard tariff your energy bills will rise by around this much too.

The government has announced a package of measures to help people deal with the sharp rise in cost. These include a one-off £150 discount on your council tax bill if you live in England and are in bands A to D, which covers around 80% of homes. Energy customers in England, Scotland and Wales will also get a £200 rebate on their energy bills in October that they will have to pay back over five years at £40 a year from April 2023.

Should you switch?

Fixed deals currently being offered by energy suppliers are reflective of the cost of energy right now and what they expect them to be in the future but as the price cap is still way below this standard tariffs have become the cheapest ones to be on.

So, if you’re already on a standard tariff you won’t save money by switching at the moment. If you’re on a fixed deal that is ending soon it’s also likely that you’ll be better off doing nothing.

You can see in the tables of tariffs below how much more expensive the fixed deals currently being offered by some of the biggest suppliers are compared to standard tariffs. Even the cheapest we’ve featured costs 72% more.

How to choose the best energy supplier in normal times

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, between March and June 2021 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.

Octopus Energy, Avro Energy and Bulb Energy were the top providers in Great Britain according to our survey but as Avro has now gone bust and Bulb is in special administration Octopus stands alone.

Read on for our essential guide to choosing the best energy supplier when switching becomes worth it again, as well as reviews of Octopus and the other suppliers we reported on in our survey.

We’ve also included the cost of the pay-monthly fixed tariffs they currently offer and compared them to the cost of standard tariffs as well as 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.

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.

READ NEXT: These are the best smart thermostats to buy right now

How can I compare prices?

Getting a cheaper deal is likely to be your main consideration when you’re switching, although customer service is also important, so start by looking at prices.

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.

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 – were previously 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.

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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.

The best energy suppliers in 2022

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, although it now offers some of the most expensive fixed deals of the providers featured here, 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 consistently achieves this, receiving less than an eighth of the number of complaints than the average across all suppliers in the third quarter of 2021.

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.

Get a quote from Octopus Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffsOctopus 12M FixedSuper Green Octopus 12M Fixed
Annual cost£2,461.61 (£205.13 a month)£2,491.85 (£207.65 a month)
Fixed/variableFixed for 1 yearFixed for 1 year
Renewable tariff?Yes - 100% renewable electricityYes - 100% renewable electricity; gas fully carbon offset
Exit feesNoneNone
Compared to standard tariff£1,188.48 more£1,218.72 more

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900 kWh of electricity per year and 12,000 kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Standard tariff is the average charged in London by the seven large suppliers (£1,273.13 a year). Correct as of 31 January 2022.

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
1981,50860%9088%

Notes: Data is for the third quarter of 2021.


2. British Gas: The largest supplier but a mediocre service

One of the original ‘Big Six’ energy companies, British Gas had the smallest proportion of customers in our survey who were satisfied enough with the supplier to say they would recommend it to others. Only 59% said they would, compared to Octopus Energy’s impressive 96%.

Its performance on customer service was also underwhelming. Although a middling 56% of customers said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with its customer support, this was the lowest proportion of all the providers in our survey. And while 69% of people said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the simplicity and accuracy of its bills, it came bottom for this.

British Gas was the second worst for value for money in our survey with just 46% saying they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with this. However, it now offers some of the cheapest fixed deals in the market among the providers featured here. As with all fixed deals at the moment, though, they are still a lot more expensive than standard tariffs.

One area where British Gas did do well in our survey was on fitting smart meters, where it bagged a Highly Commended award. It was second only to E.ON for the proportion of customers saying they had a smart meter at 46%, although some of them might have been fitted by a previous supplier.

It also did well on complaints handling according to Ofgem data. It received far more complaints than overall winner Octopus in the third quarter of 2021 at 1,396 per 100,000 customers, although this is still below the industry average, but its record on resolving them was better than Octopus’s. It resolved 64% by the end of the next working day and 93% within eight weeks.

Get a quote from British Gas now


Pay-monthly tariffsThe Fixed One v11The Green One v11
Annual cost£2,195.56 (£182.96 a month)£2,231.56 (£185.96 a month)
Fixed/variableFixed until February 2023Fixed until February 2023
Renewable tariff?Yes – 100% renewable electricityYes - 100% renewable electricity; carbon neutral gas
Exit feesNoneNone
Compared to standard tariff£922.43 more£958.43 more

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900 kWh of electricity per year and 12,000 kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Standard tariff is the average charged in London by the seven large suppliers (£1,273.13 a year). Correct as of 31 January 2022.

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
1,3961,50864%93%

Notes: Data is for the third quarter of 2021.


3. EDF Energy: Zero-carbon electricity to help you reduce your carbon footprint

EDF Energy is one of Great Britain’s largest suppliers and is owned by the French state-owned EDF. It also generates zero-carbon electricity using nuclear energy and solar and wind power.

It wasn’t victorious in any of our awards categories, with 68% of customers saying they would recommend it to others – more than British Gas’s 59% but a long way from the 96% achieved by Octopus.

EDF also beat British Gas and E.ON for value for money with 63% of customers in our survey saying they were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied with it. This is a much higher proportion than the 46% for British Gas and the 44% for E.ON.

The fixed deals you can currently switch to with EDF are among the most expensive featured here though. The priciest one of all is its Fixed Total Service, fixed until February 2023. At just over £2,563 a year for someone using a medium amount of energy, it costs almost £1,290 more than the average standard tariff from the largest suppliers.

Customers were reasonably happy with the clarity and accuracy of its bills with 74% and 76% saying they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied respectively. Its result for fitting smart meters was less impressive, however, with 34% of customers saying they had a smart meter – the smallest proportion in our survey.

It received the most complaints of any of the providers in our survey at 1,671 per 100,000 customers – more than the industry average of 1,508. It was also the worst at resolving them by the end of the next working day at 57% but still resolved the vast majority within eight weeks where it managed 90% - the same as E.ON.

Get a quote from EDF Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffsEasy Online + BoilerCare Gold Feb24Fix Total Service Feb24Fix Total Service Feb23v4
Annual cost£2,362.27 (£196.86 a month), including boiler maintenance and support plan for six months£2,362.85 (£196.90 a month)£2,563.07 (£213.59 a month)
Fixed/variableFixed until February 2024Fixed until February 2024Fixed until February 2023
Renewable tariff?No - 100% zero-carbon nuclear electricityNo - 100% zero-carbon nuclear electricityNo - 100% zero-carbon nuclear electricity
Exit fees£100 per fuel£100 per fuel£35 per fuel
Compared to standard tariff£1,089.14 more£1,089.72 more£1,289.94 more

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900 kWh of electricity per year and 12,000 kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Standard tariff is the average charged in London by the seven large suppliers (£1,273.13 a year). Correct as of 31 January 2022.

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
1,6711,50857%90%

Notes: Data is for the third quarter of 2021.


4. E.ON: Green electricity as standard from its new brand E.ON Next

It’s been a busy couple of years for large supplier E.ON. In November 2019 it took over another energy giant Npower, boosting its size further, and in 2020 it launched a new brand for homes and small businesses called E.ON Next offering 100% renewable electricity. All new customers now become customers of E.ON Next.

Only 58% of customers said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with its customer support although British Gas was the worst for this, while 68% said they would recommend the provider to others – the same as for EDF Energy.

It had the smallest proportion of customers who were satisfied with its value for money with just 44% saying they were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied. E.ON Next’s current fixed offering below is not the most expensive featured here, however, although it’s still around £1,015 more expensive over a year than standard tariffs.

E.ON was rated better for its bills – 73% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with their clarity and 74% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with their accuracy.

It also won our award for fitting smart meters as it had the most customers saying they had one at 55%, although some could have been fitted by a previous supplier. This was a much higher proportion than the second-best supplier for this, which was British Gas with 46%. Octopus Energy followed with 42%.

For complaints, E.ON did better than both British Gas and EDF on the number it received at 1,191 per 100,000 customers – far less than EDF’s 1,671. It also resolved more of them by the end of the next working day than EDF and Octopus at 62%.

Get a quote from E.ON Energy now


Pay-monthly tariffsNext 2 Year v17
Annual cost£2,288.23 (£190.69 a month)
Fixed/variableFixed for 2 years
Renewable tariff?Yes - 100% renewable electricity
Exit feesNone
Compared to standard tariff£1,015.10 more

Notes: Estimated monthly gas and electricity cost for a medium user (2,900 kWh of electricity per year and 12,000 kWh of gas) in London paying by monthly direct debit. Standard tariff is the average charged in London by the seven large suppliers (£1,273.13 a year). Correct as of 31 January 2022.

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
1,1911,50862%90%

Notes: Data is for the third quarter of 2021.

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