Have you heard of Bulb? And before you ask, we’re not talking about our bulbs. We mean the 100% renewable energy provider that is taking on the Big Six energy suppliers.
They’re barely a year old and they’ve already started reshaping the UK energy industry. Intrigued? Keep on reading for our chat with co-founder Hayden Wood who tells us more about their new way to power up your home.
Could you tell us a bit more about you and Bulb?
I’m Hayden Wood, co-founder of Bulb. Amit Gudka, Bulb’s other co-founder, and I both left our jobs in the traditional energy industry a few years ago to found Bulb: an independent energy supplier that provides affordable, renewable energy to homes and businesses across the UK.
We launched Bulb in 2015 with the aim to give people the choice of an energy supplier that they hadn’t had before: affordable, simple and, of course, renewable.
We are dedicated to keeping prices low and giving our members an exceptional experience.
Bulb provides 100% renewable energy, how does this play out?
We’re committed to supplying 100% renewable electricity and supporting independent renewable generators. We purchase directly from generators in the UK, like Llyn Brenig Hydro in North Wales, and buy renewable electricity in the wholesale market to cover any shortfall.
We love green gas too. Our gas is 10% renewable, which is more than other renewable energy providers. We work with a farm in Oxfordshire where organic biomethane mills anaerobically digest pig slurry to produce gas. It’s pretty cool!
When people switch to Bulb, we make sure that for every unit of energy our members use, a unit is produced and put on the grid by a pollution free renewable source. If you’re curious to find out more about our renewable generation sources, you can read all about it on our website here.
How do Bulb prices compare to traditional energy providers?
We don’t believe renewable energy needs to cost a fortune. Yes, we’ve got some big competitors in both the conventional energy space, but because we’re fast and agile, we’re able to make use of new technology, keep our costs low and pass savings onto our members quickly.
We’re actually 20% cheaper than the Big Six standard tariffs, and are about 20% cheaper than other 100% renewable providers as well!
Today, 1% of UK homes buy their energy from a 100% renewable supplier. By making renewable energy more affordable, we believe we can grow this to 25% over the next 5 years.
For the past few years, an increasing number of independent energy providers like Bulb have popped up on the radar – how do you explain this?
First of all, a few new suppliers have grown out of a realisation that people were simply getting a bad deal on price and service from the big energy suppliers, and that energy supply could be done differently. Much more nimble companies started showing up as a result; they were able to offer people better prices and decent customer service.
Secondly, there’s of course the renewable aspect. More and more, people are starting to understand the seriousness of climate change and are want to make a difference. And, just like choosing LED lighting for your home, going green is a surprisingly easy way to make an impact. All it takes is 2 mins to eliminate 50% of your carbon emissions by switching your energy!
How do you go about taking on a decades old industry that’s been dominated by behemoth companies such as British Gas and EDF?
The energy industry is notoriously plagued with awful service and opaque prices, amongst many other problems. The Big Six, who are essentially the old regional electricity companies that have been patched together, have no incentive to change this status quo and treat customers better since there’s massive inertia amongst consumers. Very few consumers have chosen who they buy their energy from and around half of people in the UK have never even switched supplier.
At Bulb, we simply believe this is unfair, and people deserve better. Firstly, we believe in fair pricing. We have just one tariff, which means our members are always on our best deal, and we pass on savings in the wholesale markets as quickly as possible.
Secondly, providing the best customer service possible is central to what we do. We really want to shake up how customers are served and provide an experience to not just rival the energy sector, but companies in other different industries as well. We’re rated #1 on the independent review website Trustpilot, which is something we’re really proud of.
Plumen and Bulb are both striving to drive a positive change in energy consumption. At Plumen, we believe the answer lies in designing truly exciting, beautiful and affordable low energy lighting products. What about Bulb – how do you go about changing behaviours, even more so in a service industry?
It’s really about two things… (1) switching to a renewable supplier, and (2) helping our members reduce their bills and carbon emissions by helping them understand how their behaviour affects their energy usage
How does this reflect in your company’s activities?
Well, we use technology to automate many of our operational tasks. This allows us to keep our costs low. In terms of service, we’ve got a top-notch UK-based support team, made up of experts in their field who can handle members’ questions from start to finish. We want to avoid people being passed onto ‘other departments’ and respond to members’ calls in about 8 seconds.
We also have a community, which is a space where people can find tips and tricks to reduce energy usage. It’s really exciting to see our members share their ideas with us and other members.
You’ve been around for over a year now (congrats!) – what are your main takeaways, positive or negative and what’s next?
Seeing the response from our members has been extremely rewarding. Not only do they get their family and friends to switch to Bulb, but they really impact the way we run the business. For example, last summer a member had the idea to pay back people’s exit fees from their previous supplier. We believe people should be free to switch when they want to, so we decided to make it happen.
This December, we’re donating £50 to Crisis each time a members refers a friend. Again, this was an amazing idea that came from conversations we’ve had with our members, who thought a financial incentive felt a bit awkward, and they’d be much happier to refer if a reward went to charity instead.
As for what’s next… the future is looking Smart! A major part of next year will be around rolling out smart meters. Smart meters will provide fantastic opportunities in terms of accurately measuring people’s energy usage. As a supplier, this means we’ll no longer have to ask manual meter reads from our members.
But what I’m really looking forward to is the two-way conversation we can start having with our members as a result. Thanks to the rich and accurate data on usage, we’ll be able to show our members exactly how much energy they’re using and when. For example, they’ll be able to see and immediate impact from switching to Plumen’s LED bulbs – both on their bills and on their carbon emissions.