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Expert Reviews Energy Awards 2021: The results

Cathy Hudson
23 Sep 2021
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Expert Reviews reveals the best energy supplier in Great Britain, as voted for by you

Since the pandemic hit, we’ve all been spending more time at home, and that means we’ve been using more gas and electricity to help us keep warm, eat well, work and play. Having a comfortable home where we can live life to the full just wouldn’t be possible without the energy to power it.

Your energy bills may have increased as a result of the extra energy you’ve been using or you may have found yourself having to contact your supplier more than usual, so it’s essential to have suppliers you can rely on to give you a great service as well as value for money.

At Expert Reviews, we want to help you choose the best, so we asked you to tell us whether you would recommend your gas and electricity suppliers to others and to rate their customer support, value for money and bills for clarity and accuracy to find out which suppliers are most likely to keep their customers happy. We also asked whether you have been fitted with a smart meter yet.

We can now reveal the results of our survey, with one supplier coming out head and shoulders above the rest. Read on to find out which supplier is the overall winner and which ones came top for specific aspects of service.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best energy suppliers of the year


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.


Expert Reviews Energy Awards 2021

Overall Winner: Octopus Energy

Highly Commended: Avro Energy, Bulb Energy

Octopus Energy is our clear overall winner, with more people saying they would recommend it than any other supplier in our survey. It also comes top in three of our other four award categories.

It has only been around since 2016 but has grown rapidly and now supplies more than two million homes, becoming one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers. It’s owned by Octopus Investments, which invests heavily in solar power, and its energy tariffs use 100% renewable electricity.

In our survey, 96% of people said they’d recommend Octopus Energy to others. Our Highly Commended providers, Avro Energy and Bulb Energy, would also be recommended by the vast majority of their customers, but still trail behind at 84% and 79% respectively.

Others in our survey fall way short of the top three, with 68% saying they’d recommend E.ON and EDF Energy and just 59% saying they’d recommend British Gas.

Only 7% of Octopus’s customers said they had made a complaint to the supplier in the past 12 months, compared to 22% of E.ON’s and 15% overall.

Octopus also had relatively low numbers of complaints according to data from the energy regulator Ofgem. It received just 488 complaints per 100,000 accounts in the first three months of 2021, compared to an average of 1,629 across all suppliers. It resolved 57% of them by the end of the next working day and 88% within eight weeks.

Readers who would recommend
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyEDF EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Yes84%59%79%68%68%96%
No16%43%22%34%35%5%

Best Customer Support: Octopus Energy

Highly Commended: Avro Energy, Bulb Energy

Octopus Energy’s customers were thoroughly impressed with its customer support, with 92% saying they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied, including a whopping 67% who were Very Satisfied. Only 2% said they were Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied.

Avro Energy’s customer support fell short of Octopus’ – just 74% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied – but this was the second-highest result, earning Avro a Highly Commended award. Our other Highly Commended supplier, Bulb Energy, had 69% of people saying they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied.

Other suppliers had mediocre levels of satisfaction with their customer support. Of E.ON’s customers, just 58% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied and 56% of British Gas’ said they were.

Avro had the highest proportion of its customers contacting it over the previous 12 months, at 74%, with online being the most popular contact method. EDF Energy’s customers were the least likely to have contacted their supplier at 59%.

Phone was the most popular contact method overall, with 33% of customers contacting their provider this way, followed by online accounts (30%) and web chats (15%).

Of those who phoned their supplier, 45% had to wait between one and five minutes to have their call answered while 27% were left hanging on for more than ten minutes. The majority were happy with the service they received, though – 69% said they were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied.

Customer support
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Very satisfied40%24%48%24%67%
Satisfied34%32%21%34%25%
Neither11%26%21%25%8%
Dissatisfied4%11%8%11%1%
Very dissatisfied11%17%4%15%1%

Best Value: Octopus Energy

Highly Commended: Avro Energy, Bulb Energy

Octopus Energy also emerged as the best-value supplier. A huge 91% of its customers said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the value for money they’re getting, including 52% who were Very Satisfied.

Highly Commended supplier Avro Energy wasn’t far behind, with 89% Satisfied or Very Satisfied, including 57% who said they were Very Satisfied and not a single customer expressing dissatisfaction.

Our other Highly Commended company Bulb Energy didn’t do quite as well, with 71% Satisfied or Very Satisfied.

E.ON’s customers were the most dissatisfied with its value for money – 22% said they were Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied. British Gas didn’t fare too well either, with 17% Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied. EDF Energy had middling results. A reasonable 63% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with its value for money and 13% said they were Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied.

Price tends to be the most common reason for switching supplier. Avro had the most customers who said they’d switched in the past 12 months at 38%, suggesting that Avro’s customers are particularly concerned with getting the best deal. Surprisingly, a significantly lower proportion of Octopus’ customers had switched, at 29%.

Of all the people in our survey who had switched, 80% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the process, which indicates that it’s usually straightforward.

Value for money
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyEDF EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Very satisfied57%13%28%15%9%52%
Satisfied32%34%43%48%35%39%
Neither11%44%24%35%38%9%
Dissatisfied0%11%2%11%13%1%
Very dissatisfied0%6%5%2%9%1%

Best Bills: Octopus Energy

Highly Commended: Avro Energy, Bulb Energy

Once again, Octopus Energy also cleans up in the bills category, coming out on top for both how easy its bills are to understand and how accurate they are.

An impressive 94% were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with how easy their bills are to understand, including 72% Very Satisfied, and 96% were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with their accuracy, including 77% Very Satisfied.

Highly Commended suppliers Avro and Bulb were a little way behind. For ease of understanding, 83% of Avro customers said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied and 81% of Bulb’s said they were, with the same percentages for accuracy.

The other providers in our survey all performed respectably for the clarity and accuracy of their bills. Bottom of the table British Gas still had 69% of customers who were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with how easy their bills were to understand and 69% who were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the accuracy of their bills.

Simplicity of bills
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyEDF EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Very satisfied56%29%57%33%32%72%
Satisfied27%40%24%41%40%22%
Neither11%26%16%20%16%5%
Dissatisfied6%7%0%11%12%1%
Very dissatisfied0%3%5%2%5%1%

Accuracy of bills
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyEDF EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Very satisfied51%36%60%33%39%77%
Satisfied32%34%21%43%35%19%
Neither11%25%16%22%14%4%
Dissatisfied5%9%2%2%9%1%
Very dissatisfied2%1%3%4%8%1%

Best for fitting smart meters: E.ON

Highly commended: British Gas, Octopus Energy

Smart meters automatically send your meter readings to your suppliers so they don’t have to be read manually, and allow you to monitor your energy use and how much it’s costing you in real time on a separate display.

Energy suppliers have been switching their customers’ old-style gas and electricity meters to smart meters since 2016 and now have until mid-2025 to install them in all remaining homes and businesses.

E.ON comes top in our survey for the percentage of its customers who already have smart meters, at 55%, followed by British Gas (46%) and Octopus Energy (42%), which are our Highly Commended providers. Customers can still switch suppliers once they’ve had smart meters fitted, though, so these percentages may include smart meters installed by their previous suppliers.

Of the people who have a smart meter, 64% said they feel they are worth having and 62% said were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied with their smart meter, although more than a quarter (27%) were neither satisfied or dissatisfied, suggesting that having a smart meter hasn’t had much of an impact for a significant proportion of people.

Smart meter owners
Avro EnergyBritish GasBulb EnergyEDF EnergyE.ONOctopus Energy
Yes37%46%41%34%55%42%
No63%58%59%68%49%59%

Methodology

Between 10 March and 13 June 2021 we asked our readers to complete a survey about their energy suppliers hosted on the Expert Reviews website.

They were asked whether they would recommend their energy suppliers to others and rate aspects of their service on a scale from Very Dissatisfied to Very Satisfied. A total of 869 people responded to the survey.

We also looked at complaints data published by the energy regulator Ofgem. To be the overall winner, a supplier must have received fewer complaints than the average across all suppliers according to the most recent figures, which were for the first three months of 2021, and resolved at least 50% of them by the end of the next working day and at least 80% within eight weeks.

When voting for energy suppliers, respondents were first asked if their household ran on electric only or dual fuel. In the dual-fuel households, respondents were then asked if their electricity and gas were supplied by the same provider or whether they had separate electricity and gas suppliers.

The results of this energy supplier review reflect the aggregated view of the supplier votes, which may exceed the number of the respondents due to the dual-fuel households that have different suppliers for electricity and gas. Consequently, some results add up to more than 100%.

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