Switching to a green energy provider is one way people can help protect the environment by reducing their carbon footprint. Many green tariffs are priced alongside traditional tariffs, so there may be no additional cost to pay.
While the number of green tariffs on the market is increasing to meet demand, what ‘green’ actually means for each provider can vary greatly, making it difficult to pinpoint whether a company is truly meeting your ethical requirements.
With that in mind, Forbes Advisor has compared UK energy providers to identify the best in the green arena. Note that tariff prices, where given, are for annual consumption by a typical UK household.
The top three best green energy providers, all with a green mix* score of 4/5 & their cheapest green tariff:
- Bulb – £1126.35 (variable rate tariff)
- Octopus Energy – £1125.69 (fixed tariff)
- Good Energy – £1175.40 (fixed tariff)
What is green energy?
Green energy is produced from renewable sources and is intended to be environmentally friendly. It produces less carbon emissions than coal and oil.
How do green energy tariffs work?
If you choose a green energy tariff, you still get your electricity from the National Grid in the same way as a customer on a standard tariff. Electricity is generated from a range of sources – some of which is renewable – and this is mixed together in the National Grid and then supplied to people’s homes.
However, there are still benefits to choosing a renewable tariff as the supplier will match some or all of the electricity you use with the amount they buy from renewable energy generators.
This means the greater the number of households that sign up to eco friendly energy tariffs, the more renewable energy is fed into the National Grid.
Your supplier may also invest in green projects, such as the planting of trees, to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
How ‘green’ is your supplier?
Energy firms are required by law to publish details of their ‘fuel mix’ – in other words, what percentage of the electricity they generate comes from renewable sources and what percentage comes from other sources such as coal, gas and nuclear power. This must be updated at least once a year.
You should be able to find this information on the supplier’s website or on your energy bill.
Energy jargon buster
If you’re researching energy, there are several terms you may come across. We have listed a few of them below, along with their definitions.
Power Purchase Agreements: Long-term contracts between generators and energy suppliers that agree on a set amount of power.
REGO certificates: For every 1 MWh (megawatt hour) of renewable energy generated, the energy regulator Ofgem issues the generator with a certificate called a Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificate (REGO). Generators can sell the REGO certificates to energy suppliers alongside the renewable electricity, or separately. Suppliers then submit the certificates to Ofgem to show how much of the electricity they buy from renewable sources.
Green washing: In some cases, energy suppliers claim to provide 100% renewable energy, but are in fact purchasing unused REGO certificates without buying any renewable energy. Early in 2020, Ofgem said it was aware of the issue and was looking into the matter. It said: “We expect suppliers to be transparent about what constitutes a ‘green tariff’ and we will undertake work to ensure that customers are not misled.”
Green funds: This involves you paying a premium for a tariff to contribute to a fund which supports renewable energy projects.
Brown electricity: Another word for non-renewable electricity