Choosing an energy deal based on environmental responsibility can be tough. It seems that all companies nowadays are offering green packages, but the true environmental impact of them all differs widely by company.
You have a lot of choices, but those choices are not all equal. Looking at the green credentials of a company can help you choose between them.
The Big 6
Ninety nine percent of electricity in the UK is supplied by six major companies. These companies have somewhat of a stranglehold on the market, and it can be difficult to avoid using them. The big six do all offer green energy deals.
Because these companies are so big, they are better positioned to invest more into renewable energy, as indeed they all do. But it's important to remember that none of these companies produces more than eleven percent of their energy from renewable resources.
This is rapidly changing however, as the government pushes more money into renewable energy, making it more profitable for large companies to invest.
As far as the big six go, the ones with the best green credentials are Scottish Power and SSE. These two have the highest level of investment in the green market, and produce the highest percentage of their supply from renewable resources.
Companies are required by law to produce a certain percentage of their power from renewable resources, called a renewables obligation, and this obligation is increasing year on year.
Smaller providers are more likely to give you what you're looking for, though they can be difficult to switch to in many areas. The only company in the UK so far that uses one hundred percent renewable energy is Good Energy.
There are a couple of other UK companies that are commited to green energy and invest heavily in renewables, Ecotricity and Green Energy UK. These companies do not produce one hundred percent green power, but they have good green credentials and are strongly committed to producing as much green power as possible.
Loco2 Energy is also a company that is deeply committed to renewable resource power, but to a slightly lesser extent than Ecotricity and Green Energy UK.
Renewable Energy Tariffs
Beware of companies that offer you a one hundred percent renewable energy tariff, as this may not mean what you think it does. It does not mean that all your electricity will come from renewable resources.
What it does mean is that the company guarantees to match your usage with green energy. For every unit you use they will either produce a unit of renewable energy sourced power, or buy it from another company that produces it. This is not necessarily a bad compromise, but it can be slightly misleading for those that think they're using only green power, when in fact they're not.
You can switch to any company's renewable energy tariff by taking your Scottish & Southern, EDF or NPower meter reading and filling in the online switching application form on your chosen company's website.
Reading the Small Print
Be sure to examine both a company's green credentials and the small print of its green tariff plans before committing to a deal. There are good options out there, even with the big six companies, but know what you're getting into. And be aware that a green power deal may not always be on the cheaper end of the market.