More than half of the UK’s energy production was low carbon in 2018 with a record 33 per cent now generated by renewable energy sources, data published this week showed.
Yet while the public appear increasingly in favour of using renewable energy, few of us put our money where our mouth is and use it to power our homes.
According to polling last year, just 13 per cent of UK consumers are on a green tariff.
As the sun rises on a new year, should you consider switching to a supplier that makes more use of wind power?
These tariffs are often offered by suppliers outside the big six and promise to source the electricity a household uses from renewable providers.
Last year a survey by Moneysupermarket found that 40 per cent of people said they wouldn’t switch to a green tariff because it wasn’t the cheapest, while 24 per cent said higher bills were the main concern with renewable energy.
However, this is not always the case. According to switching site uSwitch.com, all of their eight cheapest green tariffs for 2019 cost less annually than the average big six standard variable tariff last year.
On average, customers on an ordinary tariff paid £1,191 in 2018. This year the cheapest green tariff is from So Energy at £971 – a saving of £220.
Moreover, since June 2017 small and medium energy suppliers have received fewer customer complaints than the big six, according to Ofgem.
Total number of complaints received quarterly by each energy supplier group per 100,000 customer accounts between Q1 2014 and Q3 2018
How do I know my electricity is green?
By law, energy firms have to reveal the details of their fuel mix, so you can see if the electricity is 100 per cent renewable. You may be able to find this on your energy bill or statement, while you can also contact your supplier directly to inquire.
For example, the cheapest supplier on our list, So Energy, says that its So Penguin tariff is made up of 44.8 per cent wind and 29.4 per cent solar power.
These figures are guaranteed by its filing of Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates with regulator Ofgem.
These provide a record of each unit of electricity members use from the grid.
The provider then replaces this by buying and pumping back into the grid a unit generated from renewable sources.
Between July and September 2018, the big six suppliers received 2,161 complaints per 100,000 customers, compared to 1,216 for medium suppliers, and 1,432 for small ones.
Medium-sized suppliers include firms like Bulb and Ovo, and smaller-sized ones include the likes of Robin Hood Energy, and Solarplicity.
Stephen Murray, energy expert at Moneysupermarket, told This is Money last year: ‘Affordable green energy is now the domain of the smaller suppliers, who are beating the more established providers hands down.
‘In fact, we’ve seen on a number of occasions that the cheapest switchable tariff on Moneysupermarket has been 100 per cent renewable energy. Green energy is becoming a positive choice that isn’t restricted by price.’
So should you switch to a green energy supplier?
This is Money took a look at the cheapest dual fuel green tariffs, assuming an annual average electricity consumption of 3,100 kWh and an average gas consumption of 12,000 kWh, to see what the best deals were.
To find out whether you could save, take a look at the table below and for the full lowdown on the most common questions surrounding green energy, including the difference between renewable energy and carbon energy, green gas, the reliability of green tariffs and switching to them, read our interview with Steven Day, co-founder of Pure Planet.
Be more energy efficient in 2019
Energy efficiency, not just switching from fossil fuels to renewables, should play a central role in reducing carbon emissions.
Here are some quick tips from the Energy Saving Trust on how you can be more energy efficient this year and potentially save you money at the same time.
- Switching off appliances, rather than leaving them on standby, could reduce bills by around £30 a year.
- Using a bowl to do the washing up – and not leaving the hot tap running – could save £25 a year, while only filling the kettle as much as you need could save £6 a year.
- A water efficient shower head could save a four-person home as much as £70 a year on gas for water heating.
- Spending a minute less in the shower every day could save £7 a year per person.
- Professional draught-proofing can save around £20 a year, while a chimney draught excluder could save around £15.
- Turning off lights when not in use can save around £15 a year, while LED lighting can save around £35.