The Big Six Energy Suppliers Guide: Everything you need to know

Big Six Guide

What’s in this guide?

Introduction

You may have heard or read the term ‘big six’ if you have ever switched or considered switching energy suppliers.

So who are they?

What does their name mean? Are they better than the other energy suppliers?

Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Who are the Big Six?

The big six refers to the following energy companies:

  1. British Gas
  2. EDF Energy
  3. E.ON
  4. npower
  5. Scottish Power
  6. SSE

They are called that because they dominate the energy market, providing energy to almost 90% of all the homes in the UK.

Throughout the 1990’s this lead to the creation of the big six energy companies, who also started supplying gas to their customers as well.

Although there has been strong competition since then by the smaller or ‘independent’ energy companies, according to Cornwall Energy the big six still supply energy to around 90% of the households in the UK.

Big Six ranking

The table below will let you know how the big six rank against each other regarding the approximate amount of customers.

As you can see, British Gas dominates the energy market with approximately 11 million homes with gas and 6 million with electricity.

Furthermore, customers might be interested to know that apart from British Gas and SSE, most of the big six are owned by European companies such as Spanish-based Iberdrola and German E.ON AG.

Supplier Number of homes they supply
British Gas 16 million
SSE 9 million
E.ON 7 million
EDF Energy 6 million
npower 5 million
Scottish Power 5 million

 

British Gas: No. 1 of the Big Six

British Gas tariffs Personal Projection Total Monthly Projection
HomeEnergy Secure Feb 2020 Gas
£44.10 a month
(£529.21 a year)
Electricity
£46.67 a month
(£560.07 a year)
£90.77 per month
Energy Plus Protection Sept 2019 Gas
£44.60 a month
(£535.18 a year)
Electricity
£47.17 a month
(£566.04 a year)
£91.77 per month

✔Offers smart home technology
✔Boiler care
✔Amazon Alexa integration
✔Warm home discount

SSE: No. 2 of the Big Six

SSE 1 Year Fixed v15 tariff SSE 1 Year Fix and Protect tariff SSE Smart 1 Year Fixed tariff Standard tariff Argos 2 Year Fixed tariff

SSE 3 Year Fixed v3 tariff

Fix your energy prices for 12 months Fix your energy prices for one year with SSE Heating Breakdown Cover included Get a smart meter and £50 credit Our simple energy tariff with no ties Fix your prices for two years and get Argos eGift cards
Fix your energy prices for three years
Projected monthly cost: Projected monthly cost: Projected monthly cost: Projected monthly cost: Projected monthly cost:
Projected monthly cost:
£107.44 £107.52 £110.85 £113.13 £113.13 £113.13
Gas £49.67 Electricity £57.77 Gas £50.51 Electricity £57.00 Gas £52.08 Electricity £58.77 Gas £53.16 Electricity £59.96 Gas £53.16 Electricity £59.96
Gas £53.16 Electricity £59.96
That’s £1,289.26 a year That’s £1,290.20 a year That’s £1,330.14 a year That’s £1,357.50 a year That’s £1,357.50 a year
That’s £1,357.50 a year
£25 per fuel early exit fee £25 per fuel early exit fee No early exit fee No early exit fee £25 per fuel early exit fee No early exit fee
Includes one year free SSE Heating Breakdown Cover £50 electricity credit at the end of your tariff Energy prices may go up or down
£40 Argos eGift card upfront and then
£5 Argos eGift card each quarter

✔Offers smart meters
✔Phone & Broadband packages
✔Wireless router
✔Boiler service

EON: No. 3 of the Big Six

E.ON Smart Saver v5

Monthly Estimate Yearly Estimate Exit Fee
£90.71 per month £1,088.52 per year £60

✔Boilers and smart thermostats
✔Home insulation
✔Solar and storage
✔New meters and grants

EDF Energy: No. 4 of the Big Six

Tariff Name Fixed Until Monthly personal projection Exit Fees
Easy Online Aug ’19 August 2019 £118 £60
Blue+Heating Protection October 2020 £129 £70
Blue+Price Protection September 2019 £123 None
Connect+Control Amazon Echo March 2021 £128 £70
Standard Variable Not Fixed £133 None

✔Insurance products
✔Boiler services
✔Smart thermostat
✔ECO scheme

Npower: No. 5 of the Big Six

This is right for you if you want fixed prices and a tariff that offers additional benefits to the environment. This is right for you if you want a long-term price fix, and you’re happy to pay by Direct Debit or Receipt of Bill.

This is right for you if you want flexibility in how you manage your account, and how you’d like to pay. It’s a variable tariff – so prices may go up or down.
Medium fix: Price Fix July 2020 v2 Green fix: Go Green Energy Fix July 2020 v2 Long Fix: Super Fix June 2021 v2

Variable: Standard Variable

This is right for you if you want a medium-term price fix, and you’re happy to pay by Direct Debit or Receipt of Bill.
Estimated monthly cost £84.85 That’s £1,018.20 per year View and apply Estimated monthly cost £85.68 That’s £1,028.10 per year View and apply Estimated monthly cost £86.94 That’s £1,043.25 per year
Estimated monthly cost £92.95 That’s £1,115.36 per year
Standing charge: Gas 15.8235p per day | Elec 15.8235p per day Standing charge: Gas 15.8235p per day | Elec 15.8235p per day Standing charge: Gas 15.8235p per day | Elec 15.8235p per day
Standing charge: Gas 15.8235p per day | Elec 15.8235p per day
Unit Rate: Gas 3.91755p per kWh | Elec 16.716p per kWh Unit Rate: Gas 3.9879p per kWh | Elec 16.7895p per kWh Unit Rate: Gas 4.02675p per kWh | Elec 17.178p per kWh
Unit Rate: Gas 4.3428p per kWh | Elec 18.501p per kWh

✔Smart meters
✔Boiler and heating cover
✔Free oil boiler
✔Eco scheme

Scottish Power: No. 6 of the Big Six

Tariff Name Gas Annually Electricity Annually Total Annual
Online Fixed Saver August 2019 £539.29 £600 £1,139.57
Online Fixed Price Energy August 2019 £544.40 £611.26 £1,155.66
Online Fix and Save August 2019 £551.47 £607.57 £1,159.04
Help Beat Cancer Fixed Saver August 2020 £557.26 £618.25 £1,175.51
Help Beat Cancer Fixed Price Energy August 2020 £562.38 £629.24 £1,191.61
Help Beat Cancer Fix and Save Energy August 2020 £569.45 £625.24 £1,194.99
SMART Green Electric Vehicle August 2020 £569.45 £625.24 £1,194.99
Standard N/A N/A £1,210.58

✔Boiler plans
✔Smart meters
✔Online-only options
✔Electric vehicle products

Pros of being with the Big Six

✔Big energy suppliers are extremely unlikely to go out of business, so being with a big six energy company is reliable
✔Most of the big six offer extra services such as insulation and boiler cover
✔The big six will be one of the first to offer smart home gadgets and othe technology
✔Some customers say that it is safer to stick with a company they know
✔The larger energy suppliers sometimes offer better deals than certain independent providers

Cons of being with the Big Six

✗The big six are often beaten by price by many independent suppliers
✗Smaller companies score higher with customer satisfaction
✗Households could be saving up to £320 a year by switching
✗The price of energy has over doubled from the big six in the last decade

Should I stick with my current supplier?

If you are happy with your energy supplier and you are satisfied with the price you are paying, you should stick with them.

However, clear data is showing that you could not only be saving £100s on your bills, but you could also be getting your supply from a supplier with stellar ratings on a trusted website such as Trustpilot.

Switching FAQ

Is switching complicated?

Years ago, switching may have been complicated and stressful.

However, now laws are protecting you as the customer from this stress so your new supplier will take care of everything for you.

How long does it take to switch?

Energy suppliers have a 14 day cooling off period where you can cancel your switch without a fee, so energy companies do not do anything during that period.

After that, however, it can take around four to six weeks to complete the switching process.

Energy suppliers will update you on your switch.

Aren’t all energy suppliers the same?

Many energy suppliers are almost identical in specific ways as they receive their energy generally from the same place, with a few green energy exceptions where companies invest in renewable energy generators.

However, it’s not all about costs.

Many customers say that customer service is more important than the price of the tariffs, which many customers say they are happy to pay a bit more to stay with a helpful and considerate supplier.

Can my tariff come with me when I move?

Some suppliers will allow you to take your cheap tariff with you when you move, but you need to get in contact with your supplier first and check.

You should also check the rates in your new area (with a postcode if you have it) as energy is charged differently depending on your location.

Once I switch, will my supplier tell me if prices rise?

Unfortunately, prices are predicted to rise between 30% and 40% in the next five years, unless there are some massive changes politically in the world.

However, your energy supplier has to warn you about these price rises with a minimum of 30 days notice.

Conclusion

Are you a big six customer?

Did you know you could be saving money on your energy?

Take a look at the EnergySeek guides to find out more about your energy, or see reviews of the top 7 energy switching sites to compare gas & electricity.