Octopus vs Bulb (2021 Comparison)

Intro

Both Bulb and Octopus are known for their eco-friendly approach to energy supply, with 100% of their electricity supply coming from renewable sources. They are both relatively new energy suppliers on the scene and established in 2015.

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, these two suppliers should undoubtedly be on your list.

On the face of it, there may not be much difference between the two. However, we’ve delved into the details to look at how they differ and which one is overall the better energy supplier.

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Who are Bulb energy?

Bulb energy was first established in 2015 and was the idea of two friends Amit Gudka and Hayden Wood. Today Bulb is considered one of the fastest-growing green energy suppliers in the UK, supplying over 1.5 million homes.

Bulb is focused on supplying their electricity from 100% renewable sources. In addition, they are one of the largest buyers of green gas produced using renewable sources such as farm and food waste. You can see our full Bulb review here.

Who are Octopus Energy?

Just like Bulb, Octopus Energy are in their sixth year of trading. They currently supply over 2 million customers in the UK.

They state that they provide “great value for the long term, not just the fixed term”. Like Bulb, they focus on being a green energy supplier with 100% of their electricity supply coming from renewable sources using the power of the sun, sea and wind.

Octopus has won numerous awards since starting out, including the Which? Energy supplier award and the USwitch supplier of the year.

You can read our full Octopus Energy review here.

Octopus vs Bulb: What’s the difference in price?

We did a like for like quote using the same parameters with both suppliers for our price comparison, the parameters were as follows:

  • Dual Fuel supply
  • Standard Meter
  • Medium usage (3 bedroom house with four occupants)
  • 2900 kWh of electricity and 12000 kWh for gas
  • Postcode in the South East of England

Let us look at how they compared:

Octopus energy gave us three tariff options. All Octopus’s electricity tariffs offer green energy that is from 100% renewable sources:

  • Octopusfixed: £94.22 per month – which they state is their most popular tariff.
  • Supergreen Octopus: £94.64 per month – 100% renewable electricity and gas supply is carbon neutral.
  • Flexibleoctopus £90.44 per month – variable tariff and the price is subject to change.

By comparison, Bulb offers only one tariff, which is variable a variable tariff. Their monthly price came out at £94.44.

Conclusion: The monthly price between the two suppliers is very similar. However, for a variable tariff with 100% electricity, Octopus are £4 per month cheaper, which adds up to £50 cheaper over the course of a year.

In fact, you could have the security of a fixed rate tariff with Octopus for a very similar (actually slightly cheaper) rate than the variable tariff with Bulb.

For the price comparison, Octopus Energy is the winner.

Octopus vs Bulb: What’s the difference in tariff options?

Bulb

Bulb states they want to make energy tariffs as simple as possible, so they only offer one option – their variable tariff. This is available to both prepaid and pay monthly customers.

While this may seem restrictive, Bulb say they have chosen to focus on providing a better level of customer service and to invest in technologies rather than spend extra money providing a range of tariffs.

Bulb’s pricing reflects the actual cost of energy, and because they do not offer fixed-term contracts, customers will never get switched onto a higher rate tariff which keeps the pricing fair for everyone.

If they do need to increase the prices, Bulb state that they will work hard to limit the impact on your bill and if prices go down, they will be quick to pass on the savings.

Octopus

Octopus has a slightly more complex range of tariff options, but the company still keeps simplicity at the heart of what they do. They offer new customers three standard tariffs, and in addition, they offer three innovative tariffs. Their tariffs are as follows:

Super Green Octopus

This is a fixed tariff for 24 months with no exit fees. As the name suggests, this is Octopus Energy’s greenest tariff. 100% of the electricity supply comes from renewable sources, and your gas use is carbon offset through Octopus’s partner Renewable World.

Octopus 24 Months Fixed

This tariff fixes your standing rates and unit costs for 24 months. There are no exit fees if you change your mind. This tariff is ideal for customers who want to lock in their pricing for a fixed period. They currently only offer 24 months with no 12 month fixed tariff available.

Flexible Octopus

This is Octopus’s variable tariff option which can rise and fall with wholesale prices. However, Octopus will always give you 30 days’ notice to opt for a fixed tariff if that would suit you better when there is a price hike.

Octopus Tracker

Octopus states that this is the most transparent tariff available in the UK. The price of your energy is updated every day to reflect the wholesale market prices. This keeps the pricing fair, and Octopus customers know they are getting the best possible price for their energy.

In addition, Octopus Tracker gives customers daily updates on their energy supply and 12-month forecast. You also get a breakdown of where your money is going.

Agile Octopus

This tariff offers “plunge pricing”; this means that customers get paid when more energy is produced by renewable sources than is consumed in the UK. When this happens, energy suppliers receive payment to take the energy off the grid and Octopus passes these savings onto customers.

Octopus Go

This tariff offers lower electricity rates at night between the hours of 00:30 and 04:00. Octopus markets this as ideal for those users of electric vehicles who typically charge their cars overnight. They also claim that this tariff is 50% cheaper than a comparable economy 7 tariffs available from many competitors.

Conclusion: Bulb play it simple with one single tariff, and if you want simplicity then they may be the best choice for you. However, with the range of tariff options (both standard and the more innovative) then Octopus Energy probably has something for everyone and that is difficult to beat.

When it comes to tariffs, Octopus Energy is the winner.

Octopus vs Bulb: Who offers the greenest energy?

Both Octopus and Bulb promote their green credentials at the forefront of their offering, but does one offer greener energy than the other?

Bulb

Bulb claim to be the UK’s biggest green energy supplier, with 100% of their electricity supply coming from renewable sources. For every unit of electricity their customers use, they promise to put back a unit of electricity from renewable sources such as wind, hydro or solar. The gas they supply is also 100% carbon neutral and so is effectively green gas.

Their website states that they offset the carbon emissions from the gas they supply by supporting carbon reduction projects worldwide.

Bulb is also one of the largest buyers of green gas in the UK, so some of the gas supplied to customers is already from renewable sources.

Octopus

Octopus also offers green electricity as standard on all their tariffs. They are proud to be able to provide this without being more expensive than other energy suppliers.

They also own Octopus Investments which are developing renewable energy solutions. Octopus Investments are responsible for supplying 40% of the solar power generated in the UK.

Conclusion: Being green is at the heart of both of these suppliers’ offerings and they will both appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Although Octopus offer the option to have carbon-offset gas, they do offer tariffs without it.

When is comes to greenest energy, this is almost a tie, but Bulb Energy just wins it.

Octopus vs Bulb: Who has better customer reviews?

When it comes to customer reviews, Trustpilot is the best site to look at. Both of these companies have 10,000s of reviews from customers and they are most likely to be genuine reviews.

Octopus score 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 57,000 reviews.

On the other hand, Bulb score 4.5 based on over 72,000 reviews.

Both ask their customers to review them and publish both positive and negative feedback. Both companies are also excellent at responding to negative reviews with over 90% response rates.

Reading a selection of the reviews, both are evenly matched, with many customers singing their praises and stating they are easy to contact and resolve queries efficiently.

The other place to look for customer reviews is Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert forum. Again, they both seem to be evenly matched and often get recommended as fair and competitive energy suppliers.

Conclusion: This is another close-run battle. Both suppliers have very good ratings from customers and lots of reviews too! With the slightly higher score on Trustpilot however this one goes to Octopus.

When it comes to customer reviews, Octopus Energy is the winner.

Octopus vs Bulb: Who has the better website and app?

Both Octopus and Bulb have straightforward, fast and easy to navigate websites. Signing up appears to be super simple, and finding contact details, tariff information, and FAQ’s is a breeze.

Today many customers prefer an app to monitor their energy supply, and both do offer one. We’ll have a quick look at the differences between them:

Bulb

Bulb’s app offers easy account management. The App scores 4.8 stars out of 5 on Apple’s App Store. You can use the app to give meter readings, view payments, tariffs and statements. You can also change your payment details.

Apps are an area where energy suppliers don’t quite hit the mark, but Bulb has created an app that works well and is fully functional.

Octopus

Octopus also offer an app. However, it doesn’t quite match up to the Bulb App.

The Octopus app scores just 1.8 out of 5 stars on Apple’s App Store.

The main issue seems to be that customers complain that the app frequently crashes and freezes plus that the interface is overly basic.

In theory, the app will allow customers to view statements, input meter readings, update their payment details and contact the Octopus support team. But when the app isn’t functioning correctly, this can be very difficult. Octopus customers prefer to access their account through their phone’s browser rather than via the app.

Conclusion: Both suppliers have very nice looking and functional websites. They also both offer an app (which surprisingly isn’t that common amongst energy suppliers) that offers allows you to do a range of activities. However, from review it is clear that Bulb’s app is much better than the one from Octopus.

When it comes to their website/app, Bulb Energy is the winner here.

Octopus vs Bulb: Who has the better customer service?

When it comes to looking at customer service, Citizens Advice offers the best data to use for a comparison.

You can see from our table below how both suppliers compare in the main areas:

Octopus EnergyBulb Energy
Average call centre wait time02:0308:19
Emails responded to with 2 days61.2%78.2%
% customers with accurate bill99%97.6%
Switches completed < 15 days98.3%99.7%
Opening hours9am – 5pm (4pm on Fridays)9am – 6pm
Contact via PhoneYesYes
Contact via EmailYesYes
Contact via Web chatNoYes
Source: Citizens Advice

Bulb offers longer opening hours and more options in ways to communicate with them (live chat). They also respond to substantially more emails within 2 days. However, when it comes to average call centre waiting time, Octopus Energy is far ahead.

Conclusion: Neither of these suppliers are bad when it comes to customer service. Depending on your preferences, you may also find one better than the other.

If you prefer to email, then you may find Bulb better, if you prefer to speak to your energy supplier then Octopus may be better.

Due to the slightly longer opening hours and the option of web chat, Bulb just pips it here.

When it comes to customer service, Bulb Energy is the winner.

Octopus vs Bulb: Who has fewer complaints?

When it comes to complaints, we will look at the data each energy provider openly provides. To make sure we are covering the same period for both, we will look at Q2 for 2020.

We have summarised the data in the below table:

Octopus EnergyBulb Energy
Complaints per 100k customers4751,065
Resolved per 100k customers471987
Resolved next working day66%28%
Resolved in 8 weeks93%97%
Sources: Octopus Energy Q2 2020. Bulb Energy Q2 2020.

To note: Bulb received a massive surge in complaints in 2020 after having overcharged customers multiple times for the daily standing charge over three years. Customers were overcharged a total of £699,000.

Bulb has since repaid all the affected customers and an extra amount of £675,000 as a goodwill gesture to the customers affected. Bulb admitted a failure in their IT and compliance systems which have since been rectified.

Conclusion: When it comes to complaints, Octopus has fewer of them and resolves them much quicker. Bulb did have an overcharging issue which may skew their latest data, but based on the information available there is one clear winner.

When it comes to fewer complaints and dealing with, Octopus Energy is the winner.

Octopus vs Bulb: What are the main differences between the two?

We’ve had a good look through the main areas you will likely look at when comparing energy suppliers.

Both of these suppliers are very good, in fact two of the best, and it a lot of the areas there isn’t much to split them by.

  • When it came to price, Octopus Energy won this battle due to their cheaper pricing.
  • With the range of tariff options available, Octopus won this battle too due to their much larger ranges of options.
  • Greenest energy was nearly a tie with both offering renewable energy, but Bulb Energy just pipped it due to only offering tariffs with carbon offset gas.
  • When it came to customer reviews, Octopus had the best rating and so won here.
  • In terms of website/app, Bulb appear to have the much better offering and so won this one.
  • Due to better email response times, longer hours and live chat, Bulb were the winners when it came to customer service.
  • In terms of complaints however, Octopus had far fewer and dealt with them much more quickly, and so were the winners here.

Is Octopus energy better than bulb?

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint and use energy that is more sustainable and affordable, either of these green energy suppliers will help you achieve this and leave the big six standing when it comes to green energy initiatives.

Both of these suppliers are very evenly matched, but considering the lower price, range of tariff options and the overwhelming number of positive reviews, there is one supplier that comes out ahead.

And the winner is… Octopus Energy!

🏆 Our top rated supplier Octopus Energy is currently offering £50 credit to any new customer that uses our referral link. Click below to see why we rate them so highly and get your £50.

Read our review

Avatar for Rob

Rob

Rob runs Energy-Review.co.uk. The project initially began when he switched energy suppliers for the first time and found there wasn't a website that provided simple, data backed reviews on all the suppliers available. Since then, Rob has spent considerable time looking at all publicly available data about each supplier and writing reviews using this information. Reviews are updated as regularly as possible and any data is backed up by a source where necessary. If you find any issues, please use our contact form to let us know.

1 Comment
  1. I, like many people, pay for my gas and electricity by monthly Direct Debit. I generally trust the company involved so it’s less hassle for me. I understand the concept of spreading payments throughout a 12-month period where quantity of utility usage will vary greatly.
    Bulb is without a shadow of a doubt better at this than Octopus. I spent a year with Octopus – they took over from my utility provider in July ‘19 – and I went over to Bulb in July ‘20. So basically I have experienced a year with both.
    My closing balance with Octopus – who I’d been with a mere 12 months remember – was £1.5k. I’m not quibbling the usage – it’s probably kosher (I’m still wrangling with them though) – but what infuriates me is I was led to believe my Direct Debit would cover my annual usage. It was palpably a long, long way off that. And Octopus’s way of recouping this money is to go directly to a debt collector. So I’m less than happy with that too.
    Bulb’s performance where this is concerned has been exemplary, ie., my Direct Debits pretty accurately reflect my annual usage.

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