With so many energy suppliers out there, it can be a difficult decision when choosing the best to go for. Take a look at this Octopus Vs Bulb comparison to see which of these energy companies come out on top.
Which to choose – Bulb or Octopus?
Have you ever heard of the ‘big six’ energy providers? They are made up of British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, ScottishPower and SSE. For years they dominated the market and you would struggle to find competitive prices between them. But in recent times, we have seen the market open up and the introduction of plenty more suppliers. Some of these have gone bust (actually, many have), but 2 have gone from strength to strength – Bulb and Octopus.
But who are these companies and why are they so popluar?
Bulb began trading in August 2015. Growth begain slowly and by 2017, the company only had 15,000 customers. But thanks to some great marketing and reviews, this had swelled to well over 1.5 million by 2020. Due to its success, Bulb now operates in Texas, Spain and France.
Like Bulb, Octopus also began trading in 2015, although not until the December. By 2018, its customer base had grown to 198,000. The following year, thanks to deals with existing suppliers and some smaller suppliers going bust, Octopus reached over 1 million customers. Even with so many new customers coming onboard, Octopus was still rated as a Which? ‘Recommended Provider’ in 2018 and 2019. By 2021, Octopus supplied over 2 million customers and had started operations in Germany and the USA.
How have they expanded so quickly?
There are several reasons why both of these companies have been able to expand quite so rapidly. First of all, they offer very competitive energy prices, often undercutting all of the big six. Secondly (and maybe more importantly), they both offer very generous referral fees. If a friend joins either of these suppliers by using a referral link, they’ll earn £50 credit to their account. But not only that, the person giving the referral earns £50 too.
Another attraction for potential customers is the promise of green energy. And who doesn’t want to help the environment if it means saving you money too?
Which is greener – Bulb or Octopus?
Octopus supplies their customers with 100% renewable electricity, as well as investing in new renewable generation. In 2021, they acquired Octopus Renewables, who manage over 300 renewable energy projects, generating 2 TWh (terawatt hours) of clean, green power annually and saving 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
As of April 2019, Octopus was the UK’s only energy supplier to offer a smart way for people to get paid for the surplus solar energy they generate at home from their solar panels.
They’re also three years into a mission to plant hundreds of thousands of trees to counteract carbon emissions and local air pollution.
Bulb claims to be the UK’s biggest green energy supplier and provide all customers with 100% renewable electricity. They promise that their gas is 100% carbon neutral as they offset the emissions from the gas they supply by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world. They’re also one of the biggest buyers of green gas for homes in the UK.
And for every new member who joins Bulb, they donate £2 to Bulb Foundation which makes grants to charities and social enterprises tackling climate issues.
As you can see, both companies offer some pretty green credentials. And although it seems that Octopus is making bigger inroads into the electricity production market, Bulb is offering more gas from renewable sources.
Winner – draw
Octopus vs Bulb – which has the better prices?
Let’s be honest here, not everyone is so concerned about how green their energy is. Some are more interested in finding the best price. So how do these companies compare when it comes to pricing?
Unfortnately, this isn’t the easiest of questions to answer. How much you pay depends on the area you live. There’s a good chance that you could be paying a different amount for your energy when living in Devon compared to your aunt in the Midlands. Even if it is with the same company.
However, I completed 3 comparisons for various parts of the UK. Gas usage was for 11,000 kWh and electricity usage 3,000 kWh.
|Bulb||Octopus variable||Octopus fixed||Octopus green|
|CT postcode (cost per month)||£94.21||£94.05||£112.46||£114.77|
|B7 Postcode (cost per month)||£92.09||£92||£110.94||£113.25|
|NE Postcode (cost per month)||£90.87||£90.74||£108.86||£111.17|
Winner – draw
As we all lead different lifestyles, sometimes, one tariff won’t suit everybody. But what’s on offer?
Bulb offers just one tariff – Vari-Fair. This is a variable tariff that can go up or down depending the price of wholesale energy.
Although it’s a shame for customers that like to fix their prices so they know what how much they need to pay, it does make life simpler for many. You won’t be left confused whether one tariff will leave you better off compared to another.
Bulb does offer a tariff if you have an Economy 7 meter and prefer to use more electricity in the early hours.
Octopus is more of a traditional provider, and gives you several tariffs to choose from. But, there are far fewer to wade through compared to the big six companies.
Octopusfixed – fix your prices for 24 months.
flexibleOctopus – initial contracts are cheaper than Octopusfixed, but prices can change occasionally based on the wholesale costs.
supergreenOctopus – this is the greenest tariff that Octopus has to offer.
If you have more specific needs for your energy usage, then the below tariffs may be more helpful.
agileOctopus – half-hourly electricity prices that update daily based on wholesale costs. This can help encourage you to change your energy habits.
Octopusgo – four hours of 5p/kWh super off-peak electricity every night from 12:30-04:30am. Great for charging electric vehicles.
outgoingOctopus – get paid for the electricity you export. Choose from a fixed rate or dynamic wholesale rates. Suitable for those with solar panels.
No exit fees
It’s important to note that unlike many of their competitors, neither Octopus or Bulb charge exits fees on their tariffs. That means, if you’ve had enough, you can just pack up and go without having to pay anything. Many of the big six will charge you at least £60.
Winner – Octopus
So, we’ve been through green energy, price and the tariffs available, but how do these companies perform when dealing with customers?
In September 2020, Which? surveyed various energy customers to see which company performed best. Out of 25 suppliers, Octopus finished 2nd with a customer score of 80% and Bulb in joint 10th with a score of 69%
Citizen Advice also conducted their own survey, this time with 34 suppliers. Octopus finished 5th and Bulb 14th.
Their results showed the following:
|Octopus Energy||Bulb Energy|
|Average call centre wait time (minutes)||02:57||2:45|
|Emails responded to within 2 days||54%||89.1%|
|Complaints to third parties (per 10,000 customers)||12.7||41.9|
|Customers who had an accurate bill at least once a year||96.8%||97.7%|
|Switches completed within 15 working days||98.6%||99.5%|
Winner – Octopus
Following on from the customer satisfaction comparison, both of these companies publish details about the number of complaints they receive and how they resond to them.
|Bulb Energy||Octopus Energy|
|Number of complaints received||56,966||16,857|
|Number of complaints received |
(per 100,000 accounts)
|Number of complaints resolved||50,045||16,879|
|Number of complaints resolved |
(per 100,000 accounts)
|% complaints resolved by the end |
of the next working day
|% complaints resolved within 8 weeks||97%||93%|
Winner – Octopus
Which is best – Octopus or Bulb?
There is a clear winner here… Octopus. Yes, prices are very similar, but there’s so much more you need to take into consideration. Octopus customers are far happier with the service they receive compared to Bulb’s and this is shown by the stats released by Citizen’s Advice and Which?
Plus, you have the option to fix your price for 2 years with Octopus Energy, which will give a lot of people peace of mind.
Click on the buttons below to find out more. And if you use my Octopus button, you’ll receive £50 credit to your account if you sign up. If you want to switch to Bulb, then you will be able to find plenty of £50 referral codes if you search on Google.
Or why not take a look at my Octopus Energy review?