British Gas and Octopus Energy are two of the UK’s best-known energy suppliers. British Gas has been a major UK energy supplier for decades. While Octopus is still relatively new to the market, having been in the energy business for just eight years. Here, we will look at how they match up against each other and find out if bigger really means better!
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Who is British Gas?
British Gas is possibly the most well-known energy supplier in the UK and holds a firm place within the Big Six suppliers. They were established as a limited company in 1997 but have roots tracing back to 1812 when they were known as the Gas Light and Coke company! Today British Gas is owned by Centrica, which also owns Bord Gais, an Irish Supplier. In 2021 British Gas had over 5 million gas customers and 6 million electricity customers. Although they still supply over a 3rd of British homes, they are losing customers (almost 300,000 in 2019). In Scotland, British Gas operates under the name Scottish Gas.
Who are Octopus Energy?
By comparison, Octopus are relatively new. The company was established in 2016. In that short time, they have gained a solid customer base of 5 million customers.
They focus on supplying green energy from renewable sources using the power of the sun, sea and wind to generate 100% of their electricity. They are also becoming renowned for providing exceptional customer service. Octopus is part of the wider Octopus group, established in 2000 and in addition to their interests in energy, they also operate in the investment management sector.
Octopus vs British Gas: What’s the difference in price?
We did a like-for-like comparison quote with both suppliers. Our usage/search was based on the following criteria:
- Dual Fuel supply
- Standard Meter
- Medium usage (3-bedroom house with four occupants)
- 2900 kWh of electricity and 12000 kWh of gas
- Postcode in the East Midlands
Let us look at how they compared:
On running a quote for British Gas, I was given 3 different tariff options:
|Tariff Name||Tariff Description||Monthly Cost|
|Safeguard PAYG||A tariff for prepayment customers. No exit fees.||£156.74 per month|
|Standard Variable Tariff v14||Variable tariff. Rates and charges that may fluctuate over time, within the Ofgem Price Cap||£156.74 per month|
|The Fixed One v25||This is a 12-month fixed tariff at a rate with an exit fee of £100 per fuel.||£167.18 per month|
The same details were used for an Octopus energy quote. You can see the results below:
|Tariff Name||Tariff Description||Monthly Cost|
|Tracker Tariff||Smart tariff where prices change daily. No contract. No exit fees.*||£92.99|
|Flexible Octopus||Flexible tariff where prices go up and down with the market. No contract.||£155.47|
|Loyal Octopus 12M Fixed September 2023||12 month, fixed rate contract. £75 exit fee per fuel.**||£155.47|
Octopus vs British Gas: What’s the difference in tariff options?
Directly through the British Gases website, I was offered four different tariffs as follows:
As the name suggests, this tariff is variable, which means your rates can go up and down with the cost of energy. British Gas states they will give customers 30 days’ notice of any price increase to their bill.
With a standard variable tariff, there are no exit fees or fixed-term contracts.
The Ofgem price cap applies to this tariff, and there may be a price change effective from October 1st 2021.
HomeEngergy Secure Jul 2024
While £10 is more expensive per month, this tariff will fix your energy prices until July 2023. If you choose to leave early, there is an exit fee of £40 per fuel.
On this tariff, 100% of your electricity use will be matched with renewable electricity through Guarantees of Origin certificates (GoOs) or Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origins certificates (REGOs) or both.
Complete Protection October 2023
This is a fixed price tariff until October 2023. The difference is this tariff also includes a range of cover for your heating systems for the first 12 months, including:
- Central heating breakdown cover
- Plumbing and drain cover
- Home electrical cover
After 12 months, the added services above will automatically renew at the cost of £11.50 per month. (At this point, you can cancel these extras if not required).
If you choose to exit early, there is an exit fee of £40 per fuel.
Green Future 2023
This is British Gas’s greenest tariff offering. It is fixed until 2023.
With this tariff, they will match 10% of the gas you use and 100% of the electricity you use with renewable sources.
They will also offset your carbon footprint from 90% of the gas customers use on this tariff.
British Gas will also support the growth of up to five trees in the UK for every fuel you use and for each year you stay on this tariff.
As with the other fixed tariffs, there is an exit fee of £40 per fuel.
Octopus Energy offers six tariffs. Three are their more standard options, and they offer three innovative options. Here is a quick summary of each, starting with the standard options:
Super Green Octopus
This is, as you might have guessed, Octopus’s greenest tariff. With this tariff, you are locking in your standing charge and unit rate for two years. However, there are no exit fees.
100% of your electricity supply will come from renewable sources. Your gas use is carbon offset through Octopus’s partnership with Renewable World.
Octopus 24 months Fixed
Octopus’s most popular tariff. This is a fixed tariff with no exit fees if you change your mind and choose to leave early. Like the super green tariff, this is ideal if you want to fix your prices for the next two years.
This tariff is comparable to British Gases standard variable tariff and can rise and fall with wholesale energy prices. If you choose this option, you will always be given 30 days’ notice before any price increase takes effect, allowing you time to switch tariffs if that would suit your circumstances better.
Next, we will take a quick look at Octopus’s more innovative tariffs:
This tariff tracks half-hourly wholesale pricing and offers “plunge pricing”, which means that customers get paid when more energy is produced from renewable resources than is consumed in the UK. Octopus passes on the payment they receive for taking their energy off the grid when this happens to their customers as a reward.
Targeted at those users who own and run an electric vehicle. This tariff offers low electricity rates at night between midnight and 4 am. According to Octopus, this tariff is up to 50% cheaper than a comparable Economy 7 tariff.
The Octopus Tracker tracks the daily wholesale energy market prices and gives you an accurate breakdown of where your money is going. Octopus Tracker is Britain’s first energy tariff to do this.
Customers on this tariff will get daily updates and a 12-month forecast of the predicted energy price trends over the year.
And the winner is Octopus when it comes to tariff choices!
Octopus vs British Gas: Who offers the greenest energy?
Octopus has green energy at the centre of their offering. They proudly promote that 100% of their electricity supply comes from renewable resources. But how do British Gas compare?
British Gas state they are committed to a greener Britain and the future of generations to come. They are on a mission to become net zero by 2050.
If you choose one of their Green Future tariffs, British Gas will match 100% of your electricity usage with a renewable source such as wind or solar power. However, the electricity supplied to your home will be from a mixed source.
They also state that 100% of your CO2 footprint will be balanced by carbon-cutting projects around the world and renewable biogas produced from food and farm waste around the globe.
Innovative Octopus is already supplying 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. This is standard across all their tariffs. The excellent news for customers is they can do this without being more expensive than other suppliers. If you opt for their super green tariff, your carbon use is also fully offset.
Octopus Investments is responsible for supplying 40% of the solar power generated in the UK and plays a significant role in developing renewable energy solutions.
We can admire both for their green efforts, but Octopus has always had green energy at the forefront of their tariffs, so they win this category!
Octopus vs British Gas: Who has better customer reviews?
We consulted Trustpilot to see how their customers feel about the service they have received from both Octopus and British Gas. Both companies have 10,000s of genuine reviews:
British Gas score 3.8 out of 5 based on over 159,000 reviews
Octopus score 4.8 out of 5 based on over 178,000 reviews
Both suppliers ask their customers to review their service, both good and bad. Both companies respond to negative reviews in the majority of cases.
On reading a selection of the reviews, British Gas customers frequently complain about the price increases, poor customer service and lack of knowledge. However, many customers also seem to be happy with their supply and service. On the other hand, Octopus fair much better, with most reviews stating that they are helpful and knowledgable and resolve problems quickly.
Octopus vs British Gas: Who has the better website and app?
Both suppliers have clean, easy-to-use websites where you can sign up and manage your account online. It’s easy on both websites to navigate to find different resources, whether it’s contact information, FAQ or corporate information.
A popular option now is an App to manage and monitor your energy usage. Both suppliers offer one, and we will take a look at how they compare:
In theory, the British Gas App allows you to manage your account, submit a meter reading, view and pay bills, arrange engineer callouts, chat to an advisor or change tariff, to name a few. However, the reality seems to be that it’s not functioning as well as it could. With a score of just 2.5 out of 5, there is certainly room for improvement. Customers complain that it crashes frequently, and you cannot reliably use it to manage your account.
Octopus have really worked on their apps in the past couple of years. Previously there wasn’t an Android app, this is now available and is rated very favourably. Their iPhone app is now rated 4.8 out of 5 which is a big increase from the score of 1.6 we saw previously. The apps allow you to fully manage your account, make payments and watch your energy usage over time. You can also supply meter readings if you don’t have a smart meter.
Octopus vs British Gas: Who has the better customer service?
We checked out both suppliers’ customer service statistics from Citizens Advice as they offer the best customer service data comparison, which gives a fair and unbiased view:
This table gives a summary of how both suppliers compare:
|Average call centre wait time||03:44||03:26|
|Emails responded to within 2 days||56.8%||91.4%|
|% customers with accurate bill||97.8%||93.8%|
|Switches completed < 15 days||98.1%||99.4%|
|Opening hours||9 am – 5 pm (4 pm on Fridays)||9 am – 5 pm|
|Contact via Phone||Yes||Yes|
|Contact via Email||Yes||Yes|
|Contact via Webchat||No||Yes|
Both suppliers come out well on meeting the customer service statistics. With British Gas, there is a lower chance of receiving an inaccurate bill and they are likely to respond to an email quicker, according to the data above. Both offer comparable opening hours, and British Gas offer a webchat service where Octopus does not.
Octopus vs British Gas: Who has fewer complaints?
We looked at the complaint data each energy provider openly provides. To make sure we cover the same period for both, we will look at Q4 for 2022.
We have summarised the data in the below table:
|Octopus Energy||British Gas|
|Complaints per 100k customers||1,126||1,786|
|Resolved per 100k customers||1,057||1,817|
|Resolved the next working day||71%||61.6%|
|Resolved in 8 weeks||90%||87.6%|
Octopus vs British Gas: What are the main differences between the two?
These two suppliers supply a substantial number of UK homes, but they are pretty different in their purposes. Here we will have a look and how they came out in the main categories customers look for when considering a new energy supplier:
- When it comes to price, Octopus are cheaper across all tariff options. If you opt for their smart tariff, they are even cheaper.
- On the range of tariffs available, Octopus won the battle due to the range and flexibility in their tariffs.
- The award for the greenest energy supplier goes to Octopus, with being green at the heart of what they do.
- Octopus came out on top in the customer review category with more happy customers than British Gas.
- When we compare their website and apps, Octopus has it with their better functioning and well-reviewed apps.
- When it comes to customer service, due to faster email response times, British Gas wins this one.
- It was close again when it came to customer service. But overall, Octopus received fewer complaints and resolved them quickly.
Who is the best supplier?
Octopus Energy leaves British Gas and the big six standing when it comes to being innovative and sustainable. They are leading the way in customer services, tariff options and pricing for us.
If you are looking a British Gas or Octopus as a potential supplier to switch to, we have some other comparisons you may be interested in:
Our top rated supplier Octopus Energy is currently offering £50 credit to any new customer that uses our referral link. Click below to see how you can use a referral code