How to find the best and cheapest green energy suppliers
Energy supply is the sector responsible for the second highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, just behind transport. Making sure that supply is made up of renewable energy is therefore vital if we want to tackle climate change.
Choosing a green energy supplier to provide gas and electricity to your home is one way you can contribute to this process. In this guide we’ll take you through exactly how to do so, help you work out which supplier might be a good fit, and offer some words of caution about ‘greenwashing’.
What is green energy?
Green energy, or renewable energy, refers to electricity generated using renewable sources. Solar power, wind power, and hydropower are key examples. Devices (solar panels, onshore or offshore wind turbines, or hydroelectric dams) harness energy produced through natural processes and therefore don’t rely on finite resources like coal, oil or gas. Furthermore, since there is no fuel being burned, there are no harmful emissions that come from generating power this way.
Some energy plants generate electricity by burning biomass (organic materials and waste). Biomass is considered renewable, but not necessarily totally green due to the emissions produced when the fuel is burned.
For more, check out our guide: what is green energy?
How do green energy tariffs work?
To explain how green energy tariffs work, it’s helpful to go back and explain how the national grid works more generally.
Fuel mixes and the national grid
We all get our electricity from the same pot – the grid – regardless of which supplier we pay our money to. The power in the grid is generated from a variety of sources – renewable and non-renewable – that make up its fuel mix. That means that strictly speaking, everyone’s electricity is just a green as the next person’s. So what’s the point of choosing a green supplier then?
Different suppliers put energy into the grid (either from generating facilities they own, or by buying it from independent generators) at different rates and from different sources. A green energy supplier is one that only (or mostly) puts energy generated from renewable sources into the grid. In addition to the straightforwardly green suppliers, some major firms like British Gas and E.on have set up dedicated green tariff subsidiaries (British Gas Evolve, and E.on Next respectively). Both of these offer tariffs based on a wholly renewable fuel mix.
Does green gas exist?
The above is all well and good when we’re thinking about green electricity. But a lot of UK households still rely on natural gas to cook or heat their homes. Since gas itself typically isn’t renewable, green energy companies will typically fund carbon offsetting programs to counteract the harmful emissions from the gas they sell and make it carbon neutral.
Green gas (or renewable gas) does exist – biomethane is produced though organic waste like grass cuttings – but for now it only accounts for a minute portion of the UK’s gas supply.
Who are the UK’s best green energy suppliers?
There are 22 energy suppliers in the UK certified as having a fuel mix that relies 100% on renewable sources. They are:
- Bristol Energy
- Economy 7 Energy
- Foxglove Energy
- Good Energy
- Goto Energy
- Green Energy UK
- Green Star Energy
- HUB energy (Gulf Gas & Power)
- Igloo Energy
- London Energy
- Octopus Energy
- Outfox the Market
- Pure Planet
- Shell Energy
- So Energy
- Tonik Energy
- Yorkshire Energy
Deciding which one is best for you will depend on a few things. First, the price. Price will vary between suppliers, and each supplier will vary their prices in different areas of the country. Enter your postcode in our comparison box to find out what’s available in your area and at what price.
Customer service is another important factor that’s important to consider. Check out our guide on the best and worst energy suppliers this year ranked with customer service as a factor.
How green are the UK’s biggest energy suppliers?
More and more suppliers are improving their fuel mixes with the aim of become mostly or wholly green. But among the top suppliers by market share, only Bulb, Octopus, and Shell Energy have hit 100% renewable certification. Nevertheless, some other big names are catching up.
Here’s the fuel mix for the 13 largest suppliers by market share, along with the UK average: