When it comes to renewable energy, two UK suppliers leading the charge are Bulb and Octopus. With these companies putting green energy at the forefront of their services, they’re a draw for anyone concerned about their carbon footprint. However, with the sheer amount of energy suppliers and tariffs currently on the market, it can be difficult to choose between them. With this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Bulb and Octopus, including what tariffs they offer and which one is cheaper.
What tariffs does Bulb Energy offer?
Bulb has taken a pledge to make its tariffs as simple as possible, meaning that it only offers one single tariff. While this might seem reductive, Bulb makes it work by investing in the technology of energy and offering the best service possible. The company claims to make less profits than its competitors in order to pass the savings onto its customers, and with a focus on energy being simple and easy to understand as the main draw. Having one tariff certainly means you’ll be spending less time wondering which one to pick, and if that’s appealing, then Bulb is ideal.
What tariffs does Octopus Energy offer?
Octopus Energy is a little more complex than Bulb, but still represents simplicity compared to bigger suppliers. Customers can choose to sign up to a 12-month fixed tariff or pay monthly for a slightly increased price. As well as these standard tariffs, you’ll also be able to choose from a range of specialised tariffs that work for different types of energy users. These are known as ‘Innovative Tariffs’ and come in three flavours:
Agile Octopus: Agile Octopus offers ‘Plunge Pricing’, which means that you’ll get paid whenever there is more electricity generated than consumed in the UK. Suppliers are paid to take energy off the grid in these events, with Octopus passing on these savings to its customers. Over the last 12 months, this has happened 31 times, with Octopus alerting you when you’ll be paid to use your electricity.
Octopus Tracker: Dubbed as “Britain’s fairest energy tariff”, the Octopus Tracker changes your tariff based on the wholesale price of energy. As the name suggests, customers are able to keep track of the daily price of their energy and see how it compares to the average variable tariff. You’ll also get daily updates of your 12-month energy forecast and see a breakdown of exactly where your money is going.
Octopus Go: This smart tariff charges you less for electricity between 00:30 and 04:00 every night. Octopus touts this as an ideal tariff for electric car owners who like to charge their cars overnight, and claims that its rate is on average 50% cheaper than the typical Economy 7 night time price. If you’re an electric car owner, it’s clearly a good prospect.
Bulb VS Octopus: Which has the better price?
Obviously the leading factor in choosing any energy supplier or tariff is the price, with Bulb and Octopus varying when it comes down to just how much you’ll be paying a month. With Bulb offering just one tariff, how much you pay will depend on your usage. With its ‘Vari-Fair’ price, Bulb claims it is 18% cheaper compared to Big Six, and that your price will change when the wholesale cost does. This means that your rate will occasionally go up, but Bulb claims that when that happens, it works to reduce the cost to the consumer. Bulb also doesn’t charge you an exit fee if you decide to move on, something that is still fairly rare in the energy industry.
Octopus is another supplier that attempts to offer the best value with progressive and easy-to-understand energy tariffs. Unlike Bulb, Octopus offers fixed-rate tariffs, meaning the price you pay will stay the same for the rate the tariff is set at. Again, how much you pay will depend on how much you use, and you’ll be able to get a quote from Octopus before you make your decision.
As previously mentioned, Octopus offers different styles of energy tariff for different types of use. The company priorities saving you money at times of day when energy use is lower, saving you money when you use it overnight for example. Owners of electric cars can enjoy the benefits here, with Octopus’ other tariffs offering variable prices that link to the wholesale cost of energy, with one even changing every half an hour.
Much like Bulb, Octopus won’t charge you for leaving, so you don’t have to worry about being locked in if you’re the sort of customer who likes to switch often.
Bulb vs Octopus: Which is greener?
Both Bulb and Octopus have renewable energy at the forefront of their offerings, with Bulb claiming to be the UK’s biggest green energy supplier. Bulb explains that for every unit of electricity used, it puts another back on the grid via renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro.
Unlike many other suppliers, it also offers 100% carbon neutral gas, with the company supporting carbon reduction projects around the world. If you’re someone who cares about their carbon footprint and is looking to reduce it, Bulb should be a serious consideration, with the supplier claiming that the average member lowers their carbon impact by 3.4 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Octopus also proudly offers green energy as standard, with all of its tariffs boasting 100% renewable electricity without being more expensive than its competitors. The company also has its own division to develop solutions for renewable energy, named Octopus Investments, which supplies 40% of the UK’s solar generation.
This focus on future-proofing its energy tariffs ensures that Octopus is an ideal supplier for those who are environmentally conscious. In fact, regardless of whether you pick Bulb or Octopus, you can be sure you’re getting a green deal, as the two suppliers are perhaps the best available in terms of sustainability.
Bulb VS Octopus: Which is easier to use online?
If you’re like the average energy customer in 2020, you probably handle most of your bills online. Online capabilities have become an essential part of any energy supplier, as a dodgy website that doesn’t work half the time means you won’t be able to keep track of your tariff.
Thankfully, both Bulb and Octopus offer simple and accessible online experiences. Bulb makes it easy to manage your account by signing into the website, with the supplier also carrying a 4.8 out of 5 on online rating tool Trustpilot. It’s clear that Bulb customers are very happy with the online experience featured here, as the website is clean and fast, with simple navigation tools to get you where you need to go.
Managing your account online with Octopus is just as easy, with a slick and simple-to-use website that allows you to handle everything you need to without contacting customer services. If there are questions about your tariff that you need to ask, you’ll be able to contact customer services via email or message using Twitter and Facebook.
The majority of your services, however, you’ll be able to handle online. Using your online account, you’ll be able to let Octopus know when you’re moving out and what address you’re moving to, submit meter readings and change your account information, including your direct debit, bank details and payment date.
Bulb VS Octopus: Which has the best app?
As well as online, modern customers rightly expect energy suppliers to have capable apps in order to manage their energy. With the majority of internet users browsing via a phone rather than computer (statistically, you’re probably reading this on a phone right now), an app that works well is essential.
Both Bulb and Octopus feature apps that are available to their customers, giving you easy account management with just the press of your phone’s screen. Bulb’s app has earned itself an impressive 4.8 on the Apple App Store (something that is surprisingly difficult), with its clean design and smooth functionality making it a pleasure to use. Using the app allows you to view your payments and statements, change your payment settings and give meter readings all from your phone. It can be quite common for companion apps to have limited functionality or bugs that stop them from working, but the Bulb app offers a complete, comprehensive experience for no extra cost.
Unfortunately, Octopus’ app appears to be an area where the supplier is lacking. With a rating of 2.3 out of 5 on the App Store, it doesn’t really hold up to Bulb’s. Common complaints include an overly basic interface and frequent crashes and bugs, making it quite difficult to use.
The Octopus Energy app does allow you to scan meter readings, view your billing history, update your account details and contact the support team, but this can often be made difficult when the app isn’t working properly. If you decide to go with Octopus, you’re better off sticking with the online platform, or access the site via your phone’s browser.
Do I get extras with Bulb and Octopus?
Bulb offers a range of different services for those who might need some help managing their account. The supplier claims to have the most accessible site of any UK energy company, with comprehensive support for those with hearing and visual impairments. Its Priority Services Register is also helpful for the eldarly, disabled and sick, allowing you to nominate someone to take care of your account, get a smart meter installed so Bulb can read your meter for you, and get advanced notice of any planned power outages.
Octopus offers many of the same services as Bulb does, giving you access to the Priority Services Register if you need it. If you qualify, you’ll be entitled to the same benefits as you would with Bulb, meaning that vulnerable customers are well catered to.
Being on the PSR also allows you to get a free Gas Safety check, which you can arrange with Octopus via phone. You’ll be eligible for a Gas Safety check if:
- You don’t live in a property where the landlord is responsible for a gas safety check
- You receive a means-tested benefit
- You have not had GSC in the last 12 months
As well as these options for vulnerable customers, Octopus also offers its own electric car leasing service, allowing you to get a quote for an electric vehicle in conjunction with an energy plan. Since a number of its tariffs benefit those with electric cars, this is a handy way of combining your plan with an upgrade to your car. Octopus Electric Vehicles offer a wide range of different brands and models, including Tesla, Nissan, Mini and Reanult.
Which should you pick?
It’s clear that both Bulb and Octopus are quality energy suppliers, both with a focus on value for money and renewable, clean energy. Which one you choose will depend, of course, on how much value you get out of your energy package. Many customers will be tempted to go for the cheaper option, with Bulb likely to offer a cheaper tariff for most. However, Octopus’ level of choice is a massive draw, with options to get a fixed deal or go with the changing wholesale price.
Either way, both Bulb and Octopus should be serious considerations for anyone interested in lowering their carbon footprint or using energy that’s both sustainable and affordable. For green tariffs, both suppliers are unmatched, and leave the Big Six looking fairly inadequate.