Soaring numbers of households are switching to green energy tariffs.
Environmentally conscious customers previously had to pay a premium of around £100 or more for an eco-friendly gas and electricity deal.
But, today, four of the top ten energy tariffs claim to be green — including the very cheapest on offer.
However, households are being urged to check the small print, as some tariffs may not be as green as they seem.
Clean living: Today, four of the top ten energy tariffs claim to be green – but just one in ten dual-fuel ‘green’ tariffs supplies 100% renewable power
With a green tariff, your supplier commits to generating enough renewable energy to cover your usage.
This might be power created by solar panels, wind turbines or water, for example. In the UK, the largest source of renewable electricity is wind power.
For gas, some suppliers use power from renewable sources. So-called green gas is made by turning plants or vegetables into biomethane. Others offset your usage by planting enough trees to absorb the amount of gas you use.
Most of the cheapest green deals also require you to manage the account online and forgo printed bills to save paper.
So far this year, more than half of the customers using comparison site Energy Helpline have opted for a green tariff and interest is set to increase even further.
Mark Todd, Energy Helpline co-founder, says: ‘We organised around 250,000 green switches last year. This year, it is set to be more than 500,000.’
But experts warn that going green is not always straightforward. In June, a study by CompareTheMarket.com showed that just one in ten dual-fuel ‘green’ tariffs supplied 100 per cent renewable power.
Many suppliers offer only renewable electricity and then supply gas from non-renewable sources, such as coal-fired power stations.
Just two of the top ten cheapest deals include 100 per cent renewable gas as well as electricity.
Another trick is to dilute the amount of renewable energy they provide to as little as 15 per cent — with the remainder non-renewable.
Peter Earl, of Compare TheMarket.com, says: ‘The current labelling of ‘green’ can be confusing. Climate change issues are increasingly important for environmentally conscious consumers.
‘But the energy market clearly has a way to go before it is able to offer all consumers a truly green option.
‘We need more renewable energy, more price competition and a greater array of green tariffs that are transparently labelled.’
It is easy to get caught out. Even if a firm claims to be green, it does not necessarily mean that all of its tariffs are 100 per cent green.
Lumo Energy’s Online Variable at £1,069 boasts being green, but offers only 33 per cent renewable electricity and no green gas.
The cheapest green tariff is with Outfox The Market, whose One Variable 6.0 tariff costs £846 a year. It offers 100 per cent renewable electricity, but not green gas.
The second-cheapest green tariff is also from Outfox The Market with its High User Variable at £865 a year.
With a green tariff, your supplier commits to generating enough renewable energy to cover your usage. In the UK, the largest source of renewable electricity is wind power
The third is from a new, small supplier called Green. Its Oak tariff costs an average of £867 annually and offers 100 per cent renewable electricity and gas.
All three are variable deals, which means prices could rise at any time.
By comparison, the cheapest non-green tariff is Orbit Energy’s Beat The Cap Extra Jul19, which, at an average of £873 a year, costs £27 more than the cheapest green tariff.
The cheapest green tariff with a Big Six supplier is British Gas Energy Plus Protection Green Aug 2020v2, at £955 a year.
It offers 100 per cent renewable electricity and 100 per cent offsetting of your gas usage. It requires customers to get a smart meter.
For customers who are not online, the cheapest green tariff where you will get a paper bill is with Co-op Energy.
The Fixed November 20 tariff costs £986 a year. It is 100 per cent renewable for electricity, but the gas isn’t green. Increasing numbers of suppliers now provide renewable electricity as standard to all customers.
Only last month, Eon announced that it would automatically offer all residential customers 100 per cent renewable electricity at no extra cost.
Others include Bulb, Bristol Energy and Shell Energy.
Electricity generated from a nuclear source is not deemed renewable, but it does have a much lower carbon footprint than coal, gas and even solar.
EDF Energy’s tariffs generally offer electricity generated from nuclear power.
To find out the true green credentials of a supplier, search on the firm’s website for what is known as the fuel mix disclosure.
This should give you a clear idea of the amount of energy that is renewable and how it is generated. The details should also be included in the key information section on your bill.