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Bulb Energy review

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones
Wednesday, March 13th 2019
4/5

If you’re thinking about switching energy providers, it’s worth weighing up the merits of suppliers other than the 'big six'. And if you’re concerned about the environment and would prefer your energy to be renewable, then Bulb Energy is certainly worth a look.

But how expensive is Bulb Energy, what exactly are its green credentials, and what sort of customer service record does it have? Let’s take a look.

About Bulb Energy

Bulb Energy was launched in 2015 and proclaims to be the UK’s biggest green energy supplier. It supplies 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable gas, sourcing its electricity from a mix of independent solar, wind and hydro generators, and the wholesale market. Its green gas comes mostly from food and farm waste.

Bulb prides itself on having direct relationships with its independent generators and has demonstrated its willingness to listen to its customers. In its first year – at the request of its customers – Bulb introduced a referral programme whereby any exit fees levied by a new customer's old supplier are paid by Bulb.

The supplier employs 270 people at its office in East London and in 2018 was named one of the top 25 UK tech startups to work for. It has more than 850,000 customers and has won multiple uSwitch awards including ‘best value for money’ and ‘easiest to switch to’.

How expensive is Bulb Energy?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that going green would increase the cost of your energy bill, but Bulb actually isn’t very expensive at all. It only has one tariff, and, according to Energy Helpline data quoted on its website, that tariff is £273 cheaper than the standard tariffs offered by the 'big six' (npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, EDF, E.ON and SSE).

According to Bulb, its single tariff costs £975 a year, based on a typical consumption of 3,100 kwh electricity and 12,000 kwh gas in the eastern region. By way of comparison, the big six’s standard tariffs cost £1,249, the most expensive tariff included in this list is a fixed, green one from Ebico that costs £1,527 and the cheapest is from Utility Point and costs £883.

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Tariffs and contracts

Bulb Energy only has one tariff. The company says it wants to keep things simple and it’s fair to say that in only offering a single tariff it is doing exactly that. The tariff is variable and moves with wholesale energy prices so when they go up, it will too. Bulb will give you 60 days’ notice when that’s going to happen, though. And when wholesale energy prices go down, so will Bulb’s single tariff.

The downside of only offering one tariff is that there’s no fixed rate. If knowing you’ll be paying the same amount each month is the most important thing for you, then you might want to look elsewhere.

There is no minimum term with Bulb’s contracts. So rather than being tied in for 12 or 18 months when you sign up, you’ll be free to switch away if you find a better deal elsewhere.

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Customer service

Bulb customers get access to a Bulb Account which allows you to track your energy usage, submit meter readings and check your balance. You can sign in online or download the app.

If you need a bit of help, Bulb has a help section on its website and a helpdesk open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. You can also contact Bulb via email or live chat and there’s even a community section of the website where you can chat to other Bulb members.

Bulb has been rated 9.6 out of 10 for its customer service on Trustpilot based on more than 10,000 reviews.

How green is Bulb Energy

Bulb Energy is about as green an energy supplier as it’s possible to get. The electricity supplied to its members is 100% renewable – what this means in practical terms is that for every unit of electricity its customers use, Bulb ensures a unit is produced and put on the grid by a renewable source. It’s the same for 10% of the gas supplied by Bulb.

A lot of Bulb’s energy comes from independent renewable generators around the UK, like Gail and Miles Fursdon, a couple of dairy farmers who run a hydro scheme in Dartmoor. The Fursdons run one of seven hydro schemes that supply energy to Bulb.

There are also wind farm generators in North Wales and off the Caithness coast in Scotland, a solar farm in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and biogen and anaerobic digestion plants all over the country. When there’s a shortfall in the amount of energy coming from independent sources, Bulb buys renewable energy on the wholesale market.

Bulb says that its customers each save an average of 1.3 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year – the equivalent of planting 655 trees.

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Bulb Energy discounts

Bulb Energy is a member of the Warm Home Discount scheme, which offers £140 credit towards energy bills for households that need it most. You might qualify for the scheme, which runs each winter, if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or if you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria. There’s more information on the Warm Home Discount Scheme here or you can contact your supplier.

Bulb stopped offering a dual fuel discount in December 2018 – but replaced the £30 discount with lower standing charges for both gas and electricity. Both are now £15 a year cheaper. The upshot is that the total amount paid by customers stays the same, but their bills are easier to understand.

Smart meters

All energy providers are installing smart meters for customers for free. Having one means you won’t need to do manual meter readings and will get more accurate bills.

Bulb is rolling out smart meters to its customers throughout 2019 and 2020. It has a smart meter waiting list if you want to be one of the first in your area to be invited for an installation.

If you already have a smart meter from another supplier and want to switch to Bulb you can, although Bulb can’t automatically read first generation (SMETS1) meters installed by other suppliers. It’s working on a fix for this, but in the meantime you’ll need to submit meter readings manually.

Switching to Bulb Energy

Bulb says it takes two minutes to switch, and offers to pay any exit fees you might be charged by your old supplier. It will also tell your old supplier that you’re leaving, so you don’t have to, and will make sure the switch goes smoothly so you’ll never be without power.

The provider is signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, which makes it easier for consumers to switch between providers and gives you a 14-day cooling-off period in case you change your mind. Bulb completes 100% of switches within 21 days.

You can switch to Bulb directly or via a price comparison website, which will also compare other providers and show you how much you could save by switching. You’ll just need to enter a few details including your current supplier and the tariff you’re currently on.

If you refer a friend to Bulb and they decide to sign up, you'll both get £50.

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