One of the UK’s big six energy suppliers, npower serves millions of households and businesses across the country.
Founded: 1990 (as National Power)
HQ: Swindon, United Kingdom
Total customers: over 3.75 million customers (residential and commercial combined)
UK ranking: Rated #5 of the big six
npower was originally established in 1990 as National Power, one of three main utility companies following the privatisation of the Central Electricity Generating Board. Although this supplier is one of the nation’s largest, it’s gone through a period of upheaval over the past few years. Today, it’s owned by the Innogy group which incorporated elements of Germany’s RWE AG in 2016. As part of the Innogy group, the company operates coal, oil, gas-fired and biomass stations.
There was a planned merger with SSE which was called off in December 2018. Instead, npower merged with E.ON although the two suppliers are still operating as separate entities for now. Most recently, npower became the supply partner of Sainsbury’s Energy as of April 2019.
One of the primary ways in which this supplier distinguishes itself is with its commitment to smart innovation and green energy. It’s one of the few companies that have earned the Carbon Trust Award, thanks to its sustainable management policies and renewable power generation.
npower business services include renewable energy supplies for commercial enterprises. These are compliant with current best practice, allowing zero-carbon reporting. This is achieved by matching the power consumed with the equivalent volume fed back to the national grid. The company secures Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates for the equivalent energy consumed by businesses. Another eco-friendly benefit of the npower business service is that it can meet carbon reporting requirements. These rules are set according to the World Resource Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol guidance, so that businesses benefit from zero-carbon emission reporting.
Where possible, npower focuses on renewable energy sources like wind, water and solar power. These provide an alternative to harmful fossil fuels. Customers can sign up for the Go Green Energy Tariff if they’re interested in renewable energy sources. npower has joined up with the Trees for Cities programme, planting a tree in a UK city for every customer that signs up to a green-friendly tariff. The company has also partnered with the Climate Care initiative to carbon offset 100% of Go Green Energy Fix customers’ gas consumption. They support a full range of Emissions Reductions including 90% renewable electricity generation and 10% forest protection projects.
As one might expect from a leading big six supplier, npower offers a full range of both fixed and variable rate tariffs. Standard energy tariffs work at a variable per unit rate, which means the price could potentially go up or down over the length of your agreement. By contrast, fixed rate tariffs lock you in to a set price for the duration of your contract. Discounts are available for customers who choose to pay for both gas and electricity on the same plan. Prepayment npower tariffs are also available for those who prefer the security of paying in advance.
So how much can you expect to pay for the average npower gas and electricity plan? This will depend greatly on your household’s size, energy consumption, and location. A family of four living in a rural location will pay far more than a professional couple living in the South East. Be sure to enter all your details into a comparison site to find out what the latest deals are.
npower helps vulnerable customers with its npower Energy Fund. This is available to customers struggling to pay their bills. You can find the details on the npower website and apply for financial assistance online. npower is also part of the Warm House Discount Scheme.
In line with its innovative, forward-thinking services, npower smart meters are a big part of its business model. In fact, for some tariffs they’re required as a condition of the pricing plan.
Before you install an npower smart meter, it helps to understand how they work. Smart meters digitally record your energy use, automatically sending meter readings directly to the supplier. You’ll receive a handheld Smart Energy Display (SED) where you can see all your information. Keep track of what you’re spending to avoid any shock bills in the post.
There are a few reasons to consider installing an npower smart meter. To begin with, you can do away with estimated bills, which means you will only be billed for energy you’ve used. This cuts all uncertainty out of the billing process. Smart meters feature in-home displays giving real-time information about your energy usage. You’ll be able to see where and when you’re using the most power, which could help you become more efficient.
npower makes it easy to install a smart meter. You can check your eligibility online, choosing a date and time for your installation. The engineer will install the unit free of charge, showing you just how the SED works at the same time. The full process can take up to two hours, during which time you’ll need to be there with the installers. The power will be cut off for about half an hour, and the engineer will require access to your current electricity meter.
Another feature offered is the npower Select service, which was launched in March 2019 to serve customers interested in managing their energy use online. While some online-only tariffs require smart meter installation, the Select service provides a full range of app and online tariffs across all meter types. This has helped eliminate paper billing for many customers, streamlining services.
There are many pros and cons to npower energy services. It could be a good fit if you want the security and reliability of a big six supplier but are also interested in green friendly tariffs and smart meter installation. The company adheres to Energy UK’s Accurate Bills Code of Practice, which aims to cut the jargon and produce bills that are easier to understand.
However, npower does sometimes fall behind in areas like customer service. In fact, energy regulator Ofgem ordered npower to pay £26 million to its customers for poor service. According to a November 2017 survey, only 26% agree that the supplier values its customers, and 28% would recommend npower to others. This puts npower towards the bottom of customer satisfaction scores for the big six suppliers, at least at the time of that survey.
It’s worth comparing npower tariffs to find out if the prices and benefits balance out the customer service ratings and determine if this supplier could be the best choice for you.