/ Home & Energy

Your views: energy suppliers

energy supply

Is your energy supplier good to you? Or do you find yourself regularly switching and searching for ways to keep your energy bills down?

Whether it’s debating the looming winter bill, examining the collapse of GB Energy, or discussing the sector as a whole, we’ve talked a lot about energy over the past few months.

Here are some highlights of your comments…

The switching game

When talking about energy bills, we found there are a number of serial energy switchers on Which? Conversation.

Jackie, for instance, appears to have saved hundreds by staying one step ahead of the game:

‘I switched a couple of times over the past few years, I was paying dual fuel with British Gas, which was £175 per month. I switched to Scottish Power, because of a small saving and got my bills down to £167 per month. After two months with them, the price went up to the same as BG. I switched again to EDF, and up until last month, paid £88 per month. That was two years ago. They are now putting payments up to £92 per month, which I think is fair. There are four adults here in a three-bed house. I also had a £200 rebate on my last bill.’

We’ve also heard of impressive investigative work going on to tackle energy bills. Which? Conversation commenter, Sean, detailed the findings of his work:

‘I have managed to monitor and record my energy bills over a three-year period and have concluded that the cheapest way is to only put on heating when you come home from work, and not keep it on a constant low, as this is not economical (neither is a Hive, Nest etc…). I have saved over £100 p/month so far. What I have also found is changing light bulbs to LED definitely saves money and if you have an open fire, install a wood burner, as this makes a huge difference.’

However, for others, there’s little appetite to play the switching game, as we’ve also heard from plenty of people who are quite happy to stick with their provider.

John Woodhead explained:

‘I have been with SSE for the past four years, three years on prepay meters and then changed to open meters on a two-year fixed tariff. The change over was free of charge and with the help of their customer service, was completed without any problems.’

And Mike Palmer added:

‘My wife and I have been with British Gas for our electric and gas for the past 28 years, since, in fact, we set up home together. I have been asked, bullied and begged to change my provider, but BG have always given me the very best service. Their staff are friendly and will chat within minutes of asking to talk with someone – something other companies do not or cannot do, some taking up to two hours to get back to you.’

But while John and Mike have had positive experiences, your comments prove that’s not necessarily the norm.

Energy satisfaction

In our annual energy customer satisfaction survey, we quizzed nearly 9,000 people about their experiences with their energy company and ranked 23 energy suppliers in GB and six in Northern Ireland from best to worst.

And once again it shows that the Big Six (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) continue to lag behind some of the smaller suppliers.

In November 2016, we launched our energy campaign after our research found that energy providers simply weren’t doing enough to help move their customers off Standard Variable Tariffs, which are often the most expensive.

We’ve been calling on energy providers to outline a plan on how they will help these customers switch tariffs, setting the challenge of producing this plan by the end of January. So far we’ve seen signs of movement, but still no concrete plans…

What do you think of your energy supplier? How do you think they could serve you better? And do you have any energy-saving tips to share?

What's most important to you when choosing an energy supplier?

Cost and value for money (89%, 407 Votes)

Customer service (5%, 24 Votes)

Simple and easy billing (3%, 14 Votes)

None of the above... tell us in the comments (2%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 456

Loading ... Loading ...

I took out a duel fuel contract with e.on in October and at present I am £259.93 in credit, despite having smart meters, so there is no excuse for overcharging me. When I arranged the contract I specifically asked e.on not to hold on to my money in that way, but they obviously did not listen.

I was with Ovo in my previous home and they behaved more responsibly. They might regain my custom when my contract with e.on expires.

bishbut says:
19 January 2017

I am in credit with OVO I do not mind as they pay interest on the money and asked me if I wanted to reduce my Direct Debit payment as I was somewhat overpaying for the energy I was using Why did you change from OVO???


The previous owners of the house were customers of e.on so I thought it would be easier to stay with them to avoid the possibility of problems with switching, as I had experienced with one switch. To start with, e.on was not overcharging so I took out a contract for a further year. Roll on October. As you say, Ovo pays interest on credit balances.


Wow that’s a lot to be in credit by wavechange, especially as you have a smart meter too. Have you spoken to Eon about it?


Not yet, Lauren. It was your Convo that prompted me to have a look at my account last night. When I was with e.on in my previous home I used to call them regularly over growing credit balances. Scottish Power were worse.


Interestingly, OVO has just repaid some £600 to me, and I’m still in credit. The minuscule interest they pay is still more than most banks, anyway.

Dr David Noble says:
19 January 2017

the negotiated industry standard is to return to your nominated bank account any amount over £5

Some utility companies will tell you that they only return monies at certain times of the year ie half yearly

This is NOT the negotiated agreement
If you experience this remind them you know well the industry standards and will raise a formal complaint with the ombudsman if the monies are NOT returned within 5 business days
An air of authority,and, punctuate your email (always in writing!) with a threat always works well

Carry out your threat though if necessary!

Dr David Noble


In my case a telephone call has been all that was needed to obtain a refund of credit balances or – more often – to cancel an unnecessary planned increase in a direct debit payment.

Several years ago I moved from e.on to Scottish Power and was told that SP tried to arrange that customers built up a credit balance during the summer months to offset greater energy use during the winter. I acknowledge that might help many people budget but I can manage my own money adequately without this ‘help’.


Did they tell you Wavechange that this money being held is being used as usery elsewhere ? I will run through my archives to find the relevant one relating to this .


If all companies were required to pay interest on credit balances – as Ovo does – I suspect that the problem would soon disappear. In earlier Conversations, some people have reported having much larger credit balances with their energy companies than anything I have experienced.


Duncan – are you sure the balances held by energy companies are being used for usury [the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender]? If so I should be interested to know more about that. I had assumed the customers’ withheld credit balances were being used by the energy companies as part of their treasury operations – the internal management of money supply within the company in order to balance cashflows for optimum commercial advantage. If carried out successfully such money management should benefit both customers and shareholders, although it would benefit customers more if they returned any credits above £5 as explained above by Dr David Noble.


Here is what e.on say about refunds: If you pay by fixed monthly Direct Debit it’s normal, for example to build up a credit over the summer months. The credit will then be used during the winter when you’re likely to use more energy. You can still request a refund, we’ll ask you for a meter reading and warn you that your future Direct Debit payments may need to change, as we try to get your balance as close to zero as we can by your annual review.

From my limited knowledge, this seems to be fairly common practice in the industry and I have little doubt that it helps people who are not very good at managing their money and/or are more comfortable with fixed monthly payments. Like many people, I can manage money and would rather have surplus in my account than that of my energy company.

I fail to understand why fixed direct debit is a significantly cheaper way to pay energy. My most recent bill from e.on indicates that my payment will go up by about £68 + VAT per year. I’ve never failed to pay an energy bill in my life and I don’t understand why I cannot simply pay for what I use without being charged so much extra.