‘Bulb’ is one of the newest providers on the energy block. Its unique selling point? Promising to provide renewable energy at an affordable price. Moneywise looks at how it compares to the competition.
Launched in May 2016, Bulb offers one tariff, which is available for dual fuel customers – those who use both gas and electricity – and to electricity-only households.
It’s available UK-wide, although not to prepayment customers – those who pay for their energy on a pay-as-you-go basis via a top-up meter.
The move follows a growing trend of independent energy providers popping up in the past few years to challenge the dominancy of the Big Six – British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE.
According to energy regulator Ofgem, of the 7.7 million gas and electricity switches that took place in 2016, nearly half (47%) were to small or medium suppliers.
How does Bulb compare in terms of being a green provider?
Bulb’s tariff is 100% renewable when it comes to electricity. However, if you’re a dual fuel customer, the gas element of bills is only 10% renewable.
The majority (74%) of its renewable energy is supplied by five hydropower plants, which generate electricity using water. The other quarter (26%) of Bulb’s renewable energy comes from anaerobic digestion, which is where organic farm waste is used to generate gas.
In comparison, Engie, Tonik, and Pure Planet – which between them provide the top five cheapest green tariffs at the time of writing according to price comparison website Energyhelpline – alongside Bulb, are all up to 100% renewable when it comes to electricity depending on the tariff you take, but they vary when it comes to gas.
Engie’s cheapest tariff doesn’t include any green gas, although it does supply a more expensive tariff that is both 100% green gas and electricity.
Pure Planet’s one tariff doesn’t include any green gas, although it does offset 100% of its gas.
Tonik’s cheapest tariff doesn’t include any green gas, although it does sell a tariff with 10% green gas and 90% carbon offset gas.
Fellow green supplier, Green Energy, claims it’s the first UK provider to only supply 100% renewable gas and 100% renewable electricity. However, its dual fuel tariff costs £1,062 per year on average.
So how does Bulb stack up on price?
On price, Bulb comes out second cheapest for the average dual fuel user compared to other green energy providers but only by £1.
It’s also £280 cheaper than the average Big Six provider.
However, Bulb’s tariff is variable, meaning the price can fluctuate at any time, while the cheapest green tariff is a one-year fix from Tonik.
If you’re not interested in green energy, you could save £15 more on average by switching elsewhere; the cheapest tariff on the market costs £830 a year on average.
|How Bulb compares for an average dual fuel user|
|Tariff type||Price per year (i)|
|Big Six energy tariff (ii)||£1,135|
|Cheapest green tariff on market||£854|
|Cheapest tariff on entire market||£830|
Savings by switching to Bulb: £280 compared to Bix Six, but you lose out on £15 compared to the cheapest on the market.
Table sourced by Energyhelpline.com, correct as of 17 November 2017.
(i) Calculations for an average dual fuel user paying by monthly direct debit. Average usage as defined as 12,500 kWh pa of gas and 3,100 kWh pa of electricity.
(ii) Based on average Big Six bill for standard variable customers paying by monthly direct debit.
So should I switch to Bulb?
Mark Todd, expert at Energyhelpline says: “If you want a green tariff and are happy to take the risk of not being on a fixed tariff then Bulb could be a good choice. Anyone who has not switched for some time is likely to be able to save around £200-£300 a year switching to Bulb. But you can also get fixed price green tariffs right now at bargain prices too.”
However, it’s vital to remember that the price you pay for energy depends on where you live and how much you use, so always do a comparison to find out what’s cheapest for you. Use Moneywise’s energy price comparison tool.
Mr Todd adds: “All that really changes when you switch is the name on the top of the bill; you get the same gas and electricity but much, much cheaper. You also get the pleasure of knowing you are no longer being ripped off.
“If you go green you will also know that you are doing more than most for the environment. A typical UK home has a carbon footprint of six tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year from gas and electricity usage. Two tonnes comes from electricity usage, four from gas. Use green electricity through your adult life and you will cut your carbon footprint by over 100 tonnes. If you heat by electricity and switch to green electricity then that rises to a 300 tonne plus reduction.”
Find out the best utilities companies according to Moneywise readers in the Home Finances Awards 2017: Best gas, electricity and water firms.