The ‘Big Six’ energy companies is a group of the six largest energy suppliers in the UK
They consist of SSE, EDF Energy, British Gas, Npower, E.ON UK, and Scottish Power
The Big Six currently supplies almost 95% of British households with gas and electricity. However, there is a huge number of smaller energy suppliers who could potentially offer you a better energy deal on your gas and electricity, in order to gain attention and attract more customers away from the Big Six.
British Gas is the largest energy company in the UK, supplying over 11 million homes with gas and 6 million with electricity. It is a subsidiary of the UK-based Centrica group, which also owns Scottish Gas.
EDF Energy supplies gas and electricity to 6 million homes. It is the largest producer of electricity in the UK.
E.ON provides energy to around 7 million homes and is owned by German E.ON AG. Prior to its 2002 acquisition it was known as Powergen.
Npower supplies around 5 million homes with energy. Having begun life as Innogy, it was purchased by German RWE in 2002.
Scottish Power also has around 5 million residential customers. It was acquired by Spanish-based Iberdrola in 2006.
SSE is the second-largest energy supplier in the UK, having almost 9 million customers. It’s a Scottish-registered company trading on the London Stock Exchange, and a major hydro and wind energy producer.
The Big Six currently supplies almost 95% of British households with gas and electricity. However, there is a huge number of smaller suppliers who could potentially offer you a better deal on your gas and electricity, in order to gain attention and attract more customers away from the Big Six.
The economy of the UK is built the principal of its markets being competitive. In practice, this means that the more companies that exist within a certain sector, the more competition there will be between these firms. The more competition there is, then the more pressure there is on these firms to compete with each other to offer their customers the best energy deals possible in order to keep their existing customers - and attract new ones away from their rivals.
There is a worry, when just six companies dominate any market, that competition can suffer. However, whilst there have been many reviews into the behaviour of these Big Six energy companies, none of them have yet found these companies guilty of any wrongdoing. Both the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and Ofgem (the regulator of the energy markets in the UK) concluded that all of these companies had acted reasonably and responsibly, with regard to the setting of their prices.
The energy watchdog stated: "It has been concluded that no evidence of the alleged market manipulation could be found and therefore that the interests of consumers have not been harmed."
If you are currently worried that you might not be getting the best energy deal from your supplier, and want to help do more to increase the competitiveness of the UK energy market, then it is certainly worth you having a look at one of the many smaller gas and electricity suppliers out there.
These companies offer a viable alternative to those companies in the Big Six, and it could be cheaper for you to switch energy to one of them as they may offer lower prices or different perks. Typically, smaller suppliers fare better when rated for their customer service, for example.
There are also several smaller suppliers, including Bulb and Ecotricity, who focus on providing mostly or entirely renewable energy, which is great if you’re environmentally minded.
Small energy suppliers often offer deals on par with, or in some cases cheaper than, the Big Bix, and so it is worth investigating them to see if you could make a saving on your energy bill, and increase your levels of customer satisfaction, with another company.