Best Green Energy Suppliers
Many of us are starting to shift to a greener lifestyle as we see the impact unsustainable practices are having on the environment. You might be looking to switch to a green energy supplier or you might be curious about what is green energy. Our guide is here to help you learn more and compare renewable energy suppliers.
What is green energy?
Green energy, also known as sustainable or renewable energy, is energy that has been produced sustainably. Green energy comes from natural and renewable sources such as the sun. Renewable energy is good for the environment as it doesn’t release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Traditional energy is produced using fossil fuels (gas, coal and oil) which aren’t renewable and emit carbon dioxide, damaging the environment.
The UK is now aiming for energy independence which means that we produce all of the energy we need and don’t need to rely on fossil fuels.
Where does green energy come from?
Green energy comes from a variety of different renewable energy sources. Some of these include:
- Wind power - you’ll have seen the large wind turbines placed in open windy areas. These turbines generate electricity as they spin. Wind power is one of the most reliable green energy sources in the UK thanks to the large number of wind farms across the country.
- Solar power - solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it into power. There are two different types of solar panels on the market. Photovoltaic panels use the sun’s light whilst solar thermal panels use the heat to generate energy. Solar panels are perfect for domestic use as they can be installed on your roof.
- Hydroelectric power - this converts flowing water into power. Large volumes of water turn a turbine, installed into a dam or waterfall. Hydropower doesn’t rely on the weather or time, meaning that power can constantly be created.
- Biofuels - plant matter and food waste are burnt which produces energy. This is a renewable fuel but burning will still release some emissions.
- Geothermal - captures heat coming from the earth. This generates electricity by heating water into steam to drive turbines.
List of green energy suppliers in the UK
Many UK energy companies are offering a green option. You can always ask your current energy supplier to supply you with more green energy. However, there are only a few companies that focus primarily on green energy, these include:
- Green Star Energy
- Green Energy
You can check how green the energy your current supplier provides by looking up its ‘fuel mix’. Energy regulator Ofgem requires suppliers to publish fuel mix figures annually on the supplier’s website.
The fuel mix information tells you how much of the energy a supplier provides comes from coal, gas, nuclear, renewable and other sources. This is a great way to determine how green a company is.
Compare green energy suppliers
If you want to find the best and cheapest green energy tariff for you, you’ll have to compare the different suppliers. The best way to do this is through a comparison website and finding the best green energy tariff available at the moment.
Remember, you’ll need to provide your current energy usage to find the most accurate green energy tariff. You can find this number on energy bills.
Many of the mainstream suppliers do offer green energy tariffs. You might find that your current supplier can switch you to a green tariff. However, always take the time to compare the cheapest tariffs before you switch.
Who is the best green energy supplier in the UK?
Who is the cheapest green energy supplier?
You can use energy comparison sites to find out the cheapest green energy supplier for you. The amount of energy you use and which green tariff you choose will affect the cost. Energy prices are constantly fluctuating which means there is never one supplier that is always the cheapest.
Make sure that you take the time to compare before you switch to green energy to save the most money.
How to switch to green energy
Switching to green energy is very much the same process as switching to a traditional tariff. You can read our guide on switching energy suppliers for an in-depth step-by-step.
Here are some things to consider when switching to a green energy supplier:
- How green? If you want to help the environment as much as possible, you’ll want to go for the greenest energy supplier. You can find out where they get their energy from by checking the ‘fuel mix’ information on their website.
- Ofgem approved? Energy regulator Ofgem has a Green Energy Certification Scheme. Energy suppliers can voluntarily submit themselves to this scheme which certifies their service as ‘green’ if they pass certain checks. Look for green energy suppliers that Ofgem certifies.
- Expensive? Green energy can be the pricey option so try to find the cheapest supplier that offers a green energy tariff.
5 Green energy need-to-knows
Are you planning on switching to a green energy tariff? Before you do, there are some key things you need to understand before picking your new environmentally-friendly tariff.
1. Green energy isn’t always from renewable sources
Green energy is defined as energy produced using renewable sources that don’t harm the environment. However, when it comes to green tariffs from energy suppliers, there are a few different rules and terms to keep in mind:
- Renewable electricity - the electricity you use might not be green but your supplier will buy enough renewable electricity to match your usage.
- Renewable gas - your gas might not be green but your supplier will buy the same amount of energy you use back as renewable gas. This means more renewable gas will be circulating.
- Carbon offsetting - some suppliers might offer something called carbon offsetting. This means that they won’t be supplying you with renewable energy. However, they instead ‘offset’ the effect of traditional energy by planting more trees to balance out the negative effects of your energy usage.
You can compare and research what different suppliers do to provide renewable energy.
2. Green gas is hard to produce and isn’t widely used
When you opt for a green tariff with an energy supplier, your electricity will likely be renewable but not necessarily your gas.
Green gas is much harder to produce than green electricity, which means you won’t often see it supplied in green energy tariffs. Most green tariffs promise to offer anything between 6-25% of your usage being renewable gas. However, Green Energy UK does promise 100% of your gas to be renewable, this is a rare case.
The majority of green energy tariffs will offer ‘carbon offset gas’. This means that your gas won’t be renewable. However, the energy supplier will plant enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by your energy usage.
3. Green tariffs are a mix of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ energy
If you switch to a green tariff that offers 100% renewable energy, the actual energy supply to your home won’t change. This means that your gas and electricity will still come from the same source, whether this is renewable or not.
So, when you opt for a green tariff, your energy supplier will buy enough renewable energy to cover your usage. For example, if your tariff offers 50% green energy, your supplier will buy enough renewable energy to cover 50% of your energy usage. Or, you might have a 100% green tariff, which means your supplier will purchase enough renewable energy to cover all of your usage.
Some green energy tariffs might instead invest in offset carbon emission schemes to balance out the effects of your energy usage.
The ‘green’ method your tariff uses will be outlined in the terms and conditions.
4. For green energy, the tariff is more important than the supplier
Just because a supplier has the word ‘green’ in their name doesn’t mean that all of their tariffs are green as well.
The key thing to compare is the individual tariffs. Green tariffs should mention renewable electricity, renewable gas and carbon offset gas.
Remember, different green tariffs aren’t all the same either. Some might offer 100% renewable energy. Some might also throw in some carbon offsetting. Some might even invest in their own wind farms!
5. 100% renewable tariffs aren’t cheap
If you want to go for the ‘greenest’ tariff out there, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot on your energy.
Green Energy UK is currently the only supplier offering 100% renewable electricity and gas. This is because renewable gas is so difficult and expensive to produce. A standard household would be charged around £1,350 a year for this 100% green tariff from Green Energy UK. This is £225 a year more than the average energy tariff from the main UK suppliers.
Whilst being 100% green is ideal, not everyone can afford such an expensive tariff. Instead, try to pick a tariff that invests in green energy schemes and provides some renewable power.
Is renewable energy more expensive?
Green energy tariffs are becoming more competitive due to the public interest, improved technology and need to be greener. The price of green energy will continue to drop as products such as solar panels become cheaper to make and more efficient.
As mentioned before, if you want a 100% renewable gas and electricity tariff, it will cost a lot more than standard tariffs. Green energy does tend to cost more than traditional energy. For example, a wind farm takes up more space and produces less energy than a traditional power plant does. Therefore, green energy tariffs might cost you slightly more than others. However, for many, this expense is worth it as they are helping the planet.
Is green energy worth it?
As green energy becomes more affordable, it isn’t such a drastic expense deciding to opt for a green tariff. However, the best green tariffs are expensive which can put some people off making the switch. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of green energy tariffs to help decide whether it's worth it for you:
Pros of green energy tariffs
- Reduce carbon emissions - green energy doesn’t release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Many green tariffs do carbon offsetting which plants trees to absorb the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Renewable energy - green energy tariffs buy renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydro. This means that we aren’t draining the earth of fossil fuels that will eventually run out.
- Customer service - many green energy suppliers are smaller than the Big Six (Centrica, E.ON UK, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), RWE Npower, EDF Energy and ScottishPower.) This means that customer service tends to be much more attentive.
- Do your bit - switching to a green energy tariff can be a great way to help the environment without having to lift a finger! Nothing about your current energy will change but your supplier will be investing in renewable energy on your behalf.
Cons of green energy tariffs
- Some green tariffs are pricey - if you want 100% renewable energy, then you are going to be paying a lot for it. This means that you might have to opt for a tariff that’s slightly less green.
- You need to do your research - just because a tariff or a supplier says it’s green, doesn’t mean it is. You’ll need to take into account whether they are Ofgem approved, what their ‘fuel mix’ is and the method in which they are green (renewable, carbon offsetting, investments).
How can I make my home green?
If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint and become greener with your energy usage, it can be overwhelming at first. However, here are some simple top tips to make your home greener than ever:
- Wash your clothes at lower temperatures.
- Turn off appliances when you aren’t using them - don’t just leave them on standby!
- Replace lightbulbs with efficient LED alternatives.
- Use draught excluders.
- Replace faulty appliances with energy-efficient ones.
Loads of energy-saving tips can be found in our guide on reducing energy bills.
Government grants and green energy
The UK government has several different deals and grants on offer for those looking to make their home more energy-efficient.
The Green Homes Grant scheme helps to make energy improvements to your home such as double glazing, loft insulation and many others. The government will contribute up to £5,000 to these improvements if you are eligible.
If you are looking to make your home more energy-efficient, check out whether you can get a government grant to help with the cost.