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

Published by Helen Knapman on 19 May 2016.
Last updated on 20 May 2016

A lightbulb surrounded by screwed up paper

‘Bulb’ is the latest provider on the energy block; it’s unique selling point? Promising to provide renewable energy at an affordable price. Moneywise looks at how it stacks up.

Launched this week, 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, as of April there were almost 40 independent suppliers in the energy market, making up 13% and 14% of the electricity and gas market respectively. And of those who switched energy tariff between January and March this year, 52% went to independent suppliers.

How does Bulb compare in terms of being a green provider?

Bulb’s tariff is 100% renewable when it comes to electricity; being supplied by three hydropower plants, which generate electricity using water. It says it’s also going to look into using other renewable technology, such as wind turbines, in future.

However, if you’re a dual fuel customer, the gas element of bills is only 10% renewable. Bulb says this is a figure it’s looking to increase, but adds that renewable gas is expensive due to the new technology behind it, so using more currently would increase the cost of bills.

In comparison, Green Star, Loco2 and Ovo – which between them provide the top five cheapest green tariffs alongside Bulb, according to Energyhelpline – 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.

LoCo2 uses 10% renewable gas, while Green Star and Ovo don’t supply any renewable gas.

Green Energy claims it’s the first UK provider to only supply 100% renewable gas. It also provides up to 100% renewable electricity depending on the tariff you take. However, it costs £1,075 per year on average.

So how does Bulb stack up on price?

On price, Bulb comes out top compared to other green energy providers, costing £845 a year on average, according to comparison site Energyhelpline.com.

It’s also £221 cheaper than the average big six provider.

However, Bulb’s tariff is variable, meaning the price can fluctuate at any time. The next cheapest green tariff on the other hand comes in at £858/year on average, and is fixed for a year – meaning the price can’t change. 

If you’re not interested in green energy, you could save more by switching elsewhere; the cheapest tariff on the market costs £744 a year on average.

The table below shows how Bulb compares. 

Tariff type Price per year (i)
Bulb's tariff £845
Big Six energy tariff (ii) £1,066
Cheapest green tariff on market (iii) £845
Cheapest tariff on entire market £744

Savings by switching to Bulb: £221 compared to Bix Six, but you lose out on £101 compared to cheapest on the market.

Table sourced by Energyhelpline.com, correct as of 18 May 2016.

(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.
(iii) Provided by Bulb – it comes out top for green providers.

So should I switch to Bulb?

Mark Todd, expert at Energyhelpline.com 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 a year switching to Bulb.”

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 our 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.”

Find out the best utilities companies according to Moneywise readers in the Home Finances Awards 2017: Best gas, electricity and water firms.

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Moving home looked at gas and

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!

Be careful with Bulb. I

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?