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Bulb Energy (2021) review: A great choice for green energy

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
93.69
per month for a medium energy user on a dual-fuel tariff

Simplicity paired with good customer service, Bulb Energy is worth considering if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint

Pros 
100% renewable electricity and carbon-offset gas
Buys green gas for UK homes
Simple choice of tariffs
Cons 
Relatively expensive compared to others
High number of complaints
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Although Bulb Energy only started trading in 2015, it’s fast become one of the UK largest energy providers and it claims to be the UK’s biggest supplier of green energy.

By providing just one tariff for pay-monthly customers and one for pay-as-you-go, Bulb is a no-fuss energy supplier that says its mission is to be “simpler, cheaper, greener”. Supposedly investing in technology to reduce costs for its customers, Bulb Energy supplies 100% green energy by buying renewable electricity directly from generators.

In our Best Energy Supplier Awards 2021, Bulb won Highly Commended awards in all but one category, coming in third after overall winner Octopus Energy and second-placed Avro Energy. Most notably, in our awards survey, 79% of Bulb’s customers said they would recommend it to others.

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Bulb Energy (2021) review: The tariffs

Vari-Fair Pay Monthly

This is an online-only variable tariff for Bulb customers paying by monthly direct debit. It’s currently more expensive than many other tariffs available for someone using a “medium” amount of energy (2,900kWh of electricity per year and 12,000kWh of gas).

The benefits of Vari-Fair Pay Monthly are that it doesn’t have an end date or any exit fees, so you’re free to switch to another deal whenever you like. Bulb says it will also refund any exit fees you have to pay to switch from another supplier.

As with the other tariffs, you get 100% renewable electricity, and all the emissions from the gas it supplies are carbon offset. According to Bulb, its gas also includes some “green” gas made from renewable sources.

You can manage your account using Bulb’s smartphone app for Apple and Android phones, too. If you have a compatible smart meter (yours might not work in smart mode if you have a first-generation model and you switch to Bulb from elsewhere), you’ll also be able to monitor your energy use and how much it’s costing you in real time via the app.

If you refer someone else to Bulb and they become an electricity and gas customer, you both get a £50 reward, with £25 if they switch either their gas or electricity.

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Vari-Fair Pay As You Go

Vari-Fair Pay As You Go is Bulb’s tariff for customers with prepayment meters and has all the same features as its Pay Monthly one. It’s only around £20 a year more expensive for a medium user than if you pay by monthly direct debit.

Although it costs more than £140 extra a year at current rates than the cheapest prepayment tariff currently available for a medium user, Bulb is unusual in that it offers both green electricity and gas. It was also highly rated by its customers in our survey, so it’s a decent choice if you care about the service you receive.

Pay-monthly tariffs

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 16 July 2021.

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Bulb Energy (2021) review: Range of tariffs

Bulb likes to keep things simple by offering just one tariff for customers paying by monthly direct debit and one for customers with prepayment meters, with no fixed-term contracts or exit fees, so you’re always free to switch without charge.

Unlike some providers, however, it doesn’t offer a special tariff for drivers of electric vehicles, where your electricity is cheaper at night for charging your car.

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Bulb Energy (2021) review: Customer satisfaction and complaints

Bulb was some way behind the top provider, Octopus Energy, for its customer support ratings. The majority of its customers were still happy with the supplier, however, as 69% of people said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied. This compares with 92% for Octopus.

Value for money

For its value for money, 71% of customers said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied, but this was significantly lower than Octopus Energy (91%) and Avro Energy (89%).

Accuracy and clarity of bills

Bulb came closer to Avro for the clarity and accuracy of its bills, with 81% of customers Satisfied or Very Satisfied with how easy they are to understand and the same percentage for accuracy.

Smart meters

Energy companies have been rolling out smart meters, which send your meter readings to your suppliers automatically and allow you to monitor your energy use and costs in real time, to their customers, and some are further ahead than others.

Bulb was not one of the top ones for this, since just 41% of its customers said they have a smart meter. For E.ON, on the other hand, it was 55%. Some of these may have been fitted by customers’ previous suppliers, however.

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Complaints

Despite its good ratings in our survey, Bulb has a poor record for the number of complaints it receives and how quickly it resolves them, according to data published by the energy regulator Ofgem for the first three months of this year.

It had a staggering 3,265 complaints per 100,000 customer accounts compared with the industry average of 1,629. This is the highest number among all the suppliers in our survey. It was also the worst at dealing with them quickly, resolving less than half by the end of the next working day. Almost all of them were resolved within eight weeks, though.

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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.


Bulb Energy (2021) review: Verdict

If you want to do your bit for the planet by reducing your carbon footprint from the energy you use at home, Bulb is an excellent choice, offering both green electricity and gas. Just bear in mind that it doesn’t offer the cheapest energy deals in the market.

Its concise tariff offering makes your options easy to understand and you’re not tied to a contract, either.

The downside, however, is that a high proportion of its customers had cause to complain according to Ofgem data, and for many of these people their complaints weren’t resolved quickly.

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