Who is First Utility?
First Utility, an independent energy supplier based in the UK, has been challenging the Big Six energy providers since 2008. It’s run from Warwick, and with over 1,000,000 customers, it’s the largest independent energy company in the UK.
First Utility gained customers and appeal very speedily when it first opened, with tempting market-leading deals that were frequently the cheapest around. However, it might be that the company grew too big too fast, as previous customer service ratings were very poor. That said, in the past few years, First Utility has made a concerted effort to improve customer satisfaction, and the rankings are showing a marked change.
The brand was the first UK company to start using smart meters, which it still offers to customers, and it claims to have saved its customers over £500 million since opening. It’s also accredited by netmums and Good Housekeeping.
The brand’s mission?
“Straightforward multi-utility products and services to help keep household costs down and make life simple.”
What do they charge?
First Utility’s original selling point was its highly competitive tariffs. The brand opened with market-leading prices, tempting users away from the Big Six. This is, to a certain extent, still the case, but with historic and recent price hikes, their tariffs can now be beaten. The best way to make sure you’re getting the best deal is to run a quick energy provider comparison.
In February 2017, First Utility announced a 9.7% price increase on its standard variable tariff. Although not it’s most popular tariff, that’s a hefty £100 extra to fork out.
Since 2016, the brand has offered a ‘My Energy’ scheme, which allows its customers to see where their energy is being used at home, and where they can save – think changing light bulbs and replacing faulty plugs. The system also allows users to compare consumption with their neighbours.
How is their customer service?
First Utility’s customer service, as mentioned, used to be pretty poor, but several years down the line the brand is definitely improving. Plus, it still beats the Big Six for customer satisfaction.
It came 11th out of 23 energy companies in 2016’s Which? Customer survey (8917 respondents). It also received a customer score of 65% (3 stars for customer service, and 4 stars for bill accuracy and clarity).
When it comes to complaints, First Utility received 1479 per 100,000 customers in 2017, 84% of which were solved within 8 weeks. Tests showed an average 7-minute hold time for complaints, and a 1-minute hold time for sales.
On TrustPilot, the brand has an average score of 4/5, with customer quotes including:
‘First utility supply both my electricity and gas for nearly 2 years now and I’m very happy with the service.’
‘Although this company is offering good deals in comparison to other providers there are issues with customer service & consistency.’
‘I find the whole palaver of changing tariffs time consuming and am happy to stay with First Utility as I have had no problems.’
What tariffs do they offer?
There are currently four main tariffs on offer with First Utility:
- First Control works out at £94 per month, with price protection until October 2019.
- The company’s Smart First costs on average £75 a month, and includes a smart meter plus price protection until January 2019.
- First Fixed Online is £81 per month, with price protection until December 2018.
- First Fixed (not restricted to online services) is £84 per month.
How green is First Utility?
First Utility gets its fuel from these sources:
33% natural gas
The UK average is 24.3% for renewable energy, so First Utility is just beating this. That said, it uses a high percentage of coal (2% above UK average).
The First Utility website has a surprising lack of information on renewable energy, however, it has pledged to provide all of its customers with smart meters by 2020. First Utility doesn’t offer a 100% renewable energy tariff, so if that’s a must-have for your household, take a look at Ovo.
First Utility in summary?
While still offering competitively priced tariffs, First Utility is no longer the cheapest provider. And while it does offer better customer service compared to the Big Six, it’s customer service scores aren’t as good as the likes of Ovo. Similarly, it doesn’t offer renewable tariffs.
On the other hand, it’s a UK-based brand, with a dedication to helping its customers cut down and save money. It also puts budget behind much needed technology updates such as smart meters and its own app, which is reportedly very good.