Planet-friendly power? It costs less than you think


Low Carbon Oxford North is running a major new campaign – The Oxford Big Clean Switch (OBCS)We are challenging the people of Oxford to become leaders in support for clean renewable energy.

We invite you to make paying your electricity bill part of a movement for positive change. If you visit our Oxford webpage for this project – – you can compare the price of energy supply tariffs from six different companies all offering 100% renewable electricity, and make the switch.

OBCS aims to make it easy for us all to switch to green energy tariffs. Over 70% of people in the UK are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ concerned about climate change.  Yet just 2.5% of homes buy their electricity from a ‘green supplier’, even though the costs are now similar or even cheaper (see note 1 below).

LCON is piloting this work alongside community groups in three other cities through the national Big Clean Switch, who are also working with local councils and businesses including IKEA.

For an average home in Oxford, the cheapest green tariffs available through the campaign are now within £35 to £45 of the very cheapest tariffs on the market, and up to £300 cheaper than the average standard tariff with one of the country’s Big Six suppliers (see the notes on savings below).

We want Oxford to be the place where a higher percentage of people use green energy than anywhere else.

How do I switch?

When you visit the site you will be offered a choice of tariffs from six different companies. You’ll need to have a recent bill or statement to feed in what you currently pay. If you like your quote, completing the switch application takes another few minutes. After that, just sit back and relax – you don’t even need to contact your old supplier. Your switch should go live about three weeks later. You’ll just need to provide a meter reading to your new supplier at that point.   The length of your contract will depend on the supplier – you should read their information carefully.

What is a clean tariff?
When you’re on a clean tariff, your supplier promises to match the amount of electricity you use by putting the same amount of renewable electricity into the National Grid. The more renewable electricity that goes into the Grid, the greener it gets.

Which sources of energy are covered by a clean tariff?
Big Clean Switch uses ‘clean’ energy as shorthand for power from renewable sources – sun, wind, water (river dams, tidal or wave power) and biofuels (such as gas released by rotting food or energy crops). These produce much less CO2 than fossil-fuel power stations – solar power had lifetime emissions of 0.01 – 0.1 Kg CO2 /kWh  compared to 0.8 – 1.4 Kg / kWh CO2 for a coal-fired station (World Energy Council figures).   A full guide to all types of renewable energy is available on Wikipedia.

The environmental impact of some biofuels has been the subject of debate. Some tariffs that include a high level of energy from some biofuels have been excluded from those offered through the Big Clean Switch. You may wonder how the suppliers compare in terms of environmental and ethical standards, and we certainly hope that our supporters will want to consider this aspect carefully. You can check out each supplier and what they offer at (scroll down to ‘What is clean energy?’ and follow the link).

What kind of savings may be available?
Note 1.  A typical saving of c.£300 was calculated on 6 February 2018 by comparing an average usage dual fuel household on a Big Six Standard Variable Tariff (£1,135) with the cheapest dual fuel tariff supplying 100% renewable electricity available through the Big Clean Switch website (£834). All prices are for a single rate meter paying by monthly direct debit, with prices averaged across all regions of England, Scotland and Wales. Average usage as defined by Ofgem is 12,000 kWh pa of gas and 3,100 kWh pa of electricity.

Note 2.  The cheapest open market tariff for an Oxfordshire postcode on 13 February 2018 was £802 a year for a medium consumption dual fuel household on a single rate meter paying by monthly direct debit. This compares with £844 a year for the cheapest comparable tariff available through the Oxford Big Clean Switch.

Note 3. Even if you already have a green supplier, you may wish to check out possible savings as well as looking at the environmental impact and track record of your current supplier compared with the others on offer. (Most suppliers have a ‘standard variable tariff’ and you will probably save money by switching if you are on one of these.)

Which companies are involved? We are not promoting any one company.  Some you may have heard of include Good Energy and Ecotricity, others are newer companies such as publicly-owned Bristol Energy.  There’s full information on all six at (scroll down to ‘What is clean energy?’ and follow the link).

Can I switch gas tariffs?
Yes, but most of the gas available will be fossil fuel gas. Some suppliers offer tariffs with a small proportion of gas from biofuels or have carbon off-setting arrangements.

Who else is involved in Oxford?

We are pleased to be working on this with other groups. These include the Low Carbon Hub, Oxford Friends of the Earth, the Community Action Groups network, Low Carbon West Oxford, Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon and Local Environmental Action Florence Park (LEAF).

For everyone who switches, our coalition will receive around £11 in commission. We will then be giving out the money that comes in as grants to community groups. If 500 homes switch in the next couple of months we can have £5500 to give out!

The website for switching is: