Utilita are the prepayment kings of the utility world.
They offer gas and electricity and are focused on prepayment meters for those customers who pay ahead for their energy, either because they like to control their spending or because suppliers refuse to provide energy on account.
The company sprang up in 2003 after recognising a need in the sector to supply this market.
It’s installed a little over 425,000 smart meters and says it’s growing fast; Utilita now has a turnover of £500m.
At a time when the Big Six are losing customers, Utilita has smashed the 500,000 accounts barrier.
The company has taken the prepayment market to new levels, allowing customers to top up their meters remotely by going online, or at paypoints, by text or on the phone.
How do prepayment meters work?
Many customers who need to use prepayment meters will find their choice of supplier restricted – some energy companies are simply not interested in this end of the market.
This is why Utilita’s entrance to the sector was so welcome.
As with all the smaller suppliers, Utilita likes to keep things simple.
It’s stated aim is to offer a fairer deal to pre-payers, who generally have had to pay more for each unit of energy used – even though customers tend to be lower-income households.
Utilita aims to maintain competitive tariffs and making pay-as-you-go as simple and easy to manage as possible.
Smart energy management
Most of us like to keep an eye on energy usage, but people on lower incomes need to be even more careful to closely monitor what they’re spending.
Each Utilita customer can view their energy usage at the push of a button.
They no longer need to plug in a prepaid card or a key, as was previously the way with pre-payment meters. They can top up online, by text, phone or PayPoint outlet and money spent is set remotely to the meters in their homes.
Each meter is also fitted with a £10 of emergency credit.
If you use a smart meter, make sure you understand how the price cap that kicked in this year could benefit you.
Like all the small players in the market, tariffs are kept simple.
And keep in mind that while this company is focused on pre-payment customers that doesn’t automatically mean they offer the best deal for those customers – always check by running the numbers using our comparison tool to compare energy suppliers.
Tariffs will vary according to where you live in the country.
The Premium Energy option is Utilita’s standard tariff and is described as “not competitively priced”. It is for those customers who do not want a smart meter.
Smart Energy – this comes with a smart meter, installed in your home for free. It has an easy to use gas and/or electricity display showing you what your current balance is and how many days it’s likely to last – great if you’re trying to manage your budget.
The Smart E7 offers electricity on an Economy7 system with the same smart meter as described above. Only available in selected areas.
Premium E7 – this is the standard Economy7 tariff, for customers who don’t want a smart meter. The company describes this as not a competitively priced option. Only available in certain areas.
Utilita promises to get new customers set up with a smart meter within four weeks of them signing up.
What do customers say about Utilita?
Utilita customer reviews & feedback to Which? is right up there with the best.
This company is certainly liked by its customers.
Utilita reviewed four out of five stars in the Which? survey for customer service, value for money, and helping save energy. And it scored a straight five stars for the quality and clarity of its bills and the way it handled complaints.
By any standards, those are very good stats.
If you like to review your energy provider based on it doing its bit for the environment as well as price, then you’ll want to know where Utilita gets its fuel from.
Here’s the Utilita breakdown:
* Coal: 19%
* Natural gas: 33%
* Nuclear: 13%
* Renewable: 28% (Wind, hydro and solar power).
* Other: 7%
And the national average for comparison below...
* Coal: 17%
* Natural gas: 32%
* Nuclear: 24%
* Renewable: 24%
* Other: 3%
In the last year, Utilita has drastically increased the percentage of its energy that comes from renewables so that it's now above the national average - a big plus!
The website is clear and simple, both the full site & mobile friendly version.
Means of payment online and via text, phone and PayPoint is also handy.
Why choose Utilita?
If you need or prefer to prepay, Utilita may well be your best bet.
Their smart meters are easy to understand and offer a big boost to managing your spending.
They combine excellent customer satisfaction ratings with easy and convenient ways to pay.
To see how Utilita stacks up on price, compare deals on A Spokesman Said.
Our view – Pros and cons
* No bills.
* Easy monitoring of usage and easy to manage energy spending.
* No good unless you’re happy to prepay.