Our households run on energy, but we give little thought to what this ethereal being is made up of. We believe you should know how your home is fuelled, so that when you next compare energy deals, you’re armed with all you need to inform your switch.
Energy can come from both renewable and non-renewable (or finite) sources. Currently, the big players are: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power and renewables – which could be wind, solar, hydro or any number of green sources.
The energy that supplies your home usually comes from multiple resources before it’s turned into electricity; energy fuel mix is the combination and ratio of these different fuels that your energy supplier uses. Not every provider has an energy mix: for example, some are 100% renewable.
When you find out your supplier’s energy mix, you’ll also be able to learn the level of their co2 emissions and, if they use nuclear power, how much nuclear waste they create.
Where your energy comes from depends on what supplier you’re with. Your energy provider is legally obliged to tell you the energy fuel mix used to generate the electricity in your home, and normally you can find this on your statement or on the company’s website. It’s information that should be easy to find.
Around two thirds of the UK get their domestic gas and electricity supply through one of the Big Six energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE), so we thought we’d do a round up of how they fare when it comes to energy fuel mixes.
It’s worth knowing that, in the last few years, there have been dramatic shifts in what resources companies look to for their energy supply, driven by demand in the market. Stats have changed drastically and rapidly from a few years ago, with the biggest move being towards the use of renewables and away from fossil fuels.
All of the Big Six have gas, coal, nuclear power and renewable energy sources make up their supply, but the ratios within each company’s energy fuel mix vary considerably. All statistics are from the Electricity Info Organisation which regularly updates its data from the providers’ websites.
British Gas now draws more than half of their entire energy supply from renewables – 56% in fact, according to the latest stats. And while they used to have a higher-than-the-UK-average amount of coal use, they now only take 4% of their energy from coal: the joint smallest quantity along with SSE.
Npower, E.ON and Scottish Power all take around 50% of their supply from natural gas. Npower and E.ON also take a quarter from renewables each, with Scottish Power coming in slightly higher at 30%. If you’re an SSE customer, then your energy fuel mix will be around two thirds gas and a quarter renewable sources.
EDF takes more than 72% of their energy from nuclear power, the only one of the Big Six to draw so much from this resource. But there’s good news for customers, as they also produce the lowest amount of co2 emissions comparatively.
Head to the Electricity Info Organisation website to see a comprehensive breakdown of the energy fuel mix for all energy suppliers in the UK.
Most UK households (and commercial premises, too) are hooked up to the National Grid which converts fuels and resources into the energy that supplies our homes. But alas, the National Grid doesn’t have a map outlining the specific energy tariffs of every single property or premise in the UK.
So as it is, the infrastructure doesn’t exist to specifically feed one energy type to one house and another to its neighbour: we all draw the same energy from a central hotpot – be that coal, nuclear or renewable. And this will be the case until all providers source their energy in the same way.
If you’re on a green tariff, that doesn’t mean your home runs on 100% renewable sources. But don’t let this revelation put you off, and certainly don’t be deterred when you see green deals coming up trumps for price in your energy comparison.
Even though your electricity is fed from the National Grid’s energy fuel mix, choosing a green tariff demands your supplier chooses renewable sources of energy to feed into the grid. Selecting a green tariff creates the demand for renewable energy, meaning suppliers invest more in them – so you’re still doing great work for the planet!
Yes you can, and you should – particularly if you’re looking for cheap energy. It’s important to frequently consider switching suppliers as the best energy deals are often reserved for new customers. But it’s not just about the money.
It’s important a company’s ethos sits right with us, especially when we’re giving them our hard-earned cash. If you’re not happy with your supplier’s energy fuel mix, (we’re assuming because it’s way too fossil-fuelled), then compare energy deals offered by other providers who are dominating the renewable space – you’ll see there are plenty of them and you’ll find a tariff that’s a better fit for you.