'Bulb' is the new provider on the energy block, but how does it stack up?

19 May 2016
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‘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 typePrice per year (i)
Bulb's tariff£855
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.

Read more on household finances, energy and water

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

it seems impossible for us to cofirm our eletricity readings and your estimate of my fuel usage is nonsensical . i wish we could sort oit hese differences, before i regret switching to bulb

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have been with Bulb for around 5 months now, My bills are very high with Bulb so in that respect I am not happy with them, There was an issue with them to start with whereby when I started the account they had the wrong meter reading... Really... Last supplier and myself gave them the reading, I also spoke with my last supplier and they gave bulb the same reading, They disagree!! I am paying just over 63.00 a month and that is for a 1 bed bungalow!! which I think is quite high as my sister pays 70.00 for a 3 bed house!! Be very careful with bulb and what they first take from you as you could be paying more than you bargained for!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Admin, My apologies for the repeated messages. My fault entirely as I was unsure whether it had been posted prior to noting that it's under review by you. Sorry about that. Kind regards, Viv

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have been a bulb customer for 4 months having switched from a big 6 supplier. On the basis of what I have experience so far I would recommend them. It is a predominantly 'green' supplier, It's customer contact/information flow via logging into your account is excellent, accessible and straightforward. It is easy to manage your account and see your energy usage clearly. It has one tariff which is variable but its prices are very competitive. If all energy suppliers had this approach the supposed 'benefits' of that vast expense to all us - smart meters @ £270 per unit per customer, paid for via our bills -=- would be exposed for the expensive scam on consumers it undoubtedly is.When you sign up you set up a direct debit based on your projected usage so yes you effectively 'pay in advance', (because you are paying for the month ahead, but the corollary is when/if you leave you will not get a nasty 'final' bill) but there are simple, straightforward mechanisms to modify your payments if over time you see you are 'over' (or under) paying. The payment schedule is clearly indicated in the application so if you read what you sign up for it should not be a shock.Not withstanding an earlier comment., I have no issues with the 'professionalism' of their communications. I have found them to be clear, straightforward and customer friendly.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I switched to Bulb a month ago. It was incredibly easy. So far so good. I had a couple of queries at the start, all dealt with politely and professionally. I was a bit skeptical about the £50 credit for joining up and any referrals but no, my account has been credited with £150! Even without that Bulb is much cheaper for me than my last supplier Npower and the customer service for me was faster and more efficient. Overall very happy to recommend Bulb.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Who are Bulb? Company name and number please. Registered Office address please. Share Capital : Authorised and Issued please. Directors and Secretaries Names please. Policy on protection of clients funds, and use of "Trust Accounts" to hold money that belongs to its customers please. How much commission do they pay to price comparison websites per customer introduced please.From the "Ashes" of GB Energy Supply Ltd (now part of Co-op Energy) did another bunch of comedians arise, a situation allowed by the total inadequacy of OFGEM.From the Aas

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bulb sends out unprofessional emails, full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. They even wrote my name without an initial capital which I find discourteous. Customer service advisor said he was working on his grammar! Once a person signs up, they increase the price; this happened to me just a few weeks after I signed up.I am now looking to switch supplier again after less than 2 months as I would prefer to pay a little more for a professional service. Would I recommend Bulb? Absolutely not.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bulb may be cheaper but in fact is a bit of a scam. when you start your supply they take a payment from you on that day, so you are paying for electricity and gas in advance. In my case i had a bill from my old supplier of £118 on the same day, so was out of pocket for that month by £100 !. when i contacted them they told me it was in their conditions that they did this and they did it to pay for energy in bulk and buy it cheaper. Surely a company that starts up must have some capital to do this and just buy it then and charge customers once they've received at least a months supply ., I will be contacting OFGem for more advice.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am thinking of switching to green planet. Would you recommend?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Be careful with Bulb. I switched to bulb 15 days ago. Three days after I submitted my reading bulb informed me they are going to debit my bank account for the first payment. Am I prepaying for energy I going to use? Second issue with bulb is they only use the last year total energy usage your household to work out equal for the next 12 months payment plan. So if you switch to bulb in the summer you will be prepaying for the coming winter. If this year winter is mild bulb will not reduce the amount debt until end of the year. Bulb says they have to purchase energy for whole sale market. All energy companies are purchasing energy this way. Why bulb pursuing a policy pay before you use energy company?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Moving home looked at gas and electricity energy..bulb seemed quite good deal..just found out that it is a new supplier on the market so will be mi uterine g carefully!

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