(Last Updated On: 13th July 2011)

We all want to reduce our energy consumption, if not for environmental reasons, but for financial reasons.  With industry experts predicting energy prices to rise substantially, there’s an added incentive to reduce consumption. Here are a few articles to get you thinking:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/oct/05/energy-bills-double-next-decade

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jun/28/british-gas-owner-centrica-hints-at-price-rise

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14080755

If you’re a Scottish Power or British Gas customer they’ve already announced increases in gas prices by 18-19% and electricity by 10-16% from August, with more companies to follow.

If you missed the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Chris Huhne the Energy Secretary talked about the reasons for rising energy prices and encouraged us to use price comparison websites to save money.

I’ve recently carried out a review of my energy supplier.  I was previously on Southern Electric Dual Fuel Better Plan which sets off my electricity use with purchasing renewable electricity (mostly from Scottish Wind Farms).  They also incentivised customers to use less by providing credits against your bill if you reduced consumption.  Unfortunately as I’d already reduced consumption, I hadn’t been able to reduce it by another 10% and therefore didn’t get any credits.

So with the impending price rises on the horizon, and after having learnt more about renewable energy as FD of the Brighton Energy Coop I thought it was time to start again.

I used USwitch to get a feel for the tariffs on the market.  They provide a useful ‘Green’ tariff comparison.  From here I looked at the policies and renewable energy programmes of various suppliers.

I wanted an energy supplier who would invest in new renewable energy, rather than just continue to purchase existing renewable energy.  I’ve heard on the grapevine that energy suppliers have an obligation to purchase and invest in a certain amount of renewable energy.  The amount of customers who sign up to green plans resulting in the energy supplier buying renewable energy is usually less than this obligation.  Therefore by buying a green tariff I am not necessarily investing in new renewable energy!

So I wanted to ensure I chose a supplier who really goes that extra mile by putting renewable energy at the heart of what they do.

For electricity, the clear winner is Good Energy who has been at the forefront of renewable energy for 10 years.  They are still the only 100% renewable electricity supplier in the UK.  They not only buy electricity to meet customer demands but for all electricity supplied they invest in new renewables.

However, for Gas, without removing my gas central heating, there is no renewable gas alternative.  So I chose a company with strong ethics; Ebico, the UK’s only not-for-profit energy supplier.

As they don’t need to pay profits to shareholders, they can keep their prices low.  They have one tariff, regardless of how you pay, and no standing charge, so you only pay for what you use.  More importantly, they believe in reducing fuel poverty and supporting community energy projects.  You can read their guiding principles and find out more about how they tackle fuel poverty on their website.

Although they don’t offer green tariffs, the renewables portion of their energy mix is greater than the UK average.

I came to the conclusion that the best choice at this time is Good Energy for electricity and Ebico for gas.

But what about the impact on my bills?

I would have to pay £33 a year more to use Good Energy, but I get a £25 one off credit against my first bill as a member of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

I would save £70 per year from swapping my gas to Ebico.

Therefore I make a net saving of £62 per annum for swapping to a more environmentally conscious and ethical energy suppliers.  Who said being ‘Green’ had to cost more!

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