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United Kingdom (UK) - Electricity

The United Kingdom has a utility system that is very different from that of the United States and other parts of Europe. Electrical companies do not hold a monopoly in the United Kingdom. Instead, residents are able to compare and choose the electrical company they feel has the best rate and service. Prices are fairly competitive given the myriad choices available. England has a wide range of energy companies, some of whom also operate in Scotland.

Overview of the Electrical Outlets and Adapter Explanation

The United Kingdom uses electricity for some appliances, and gas is typically used for appliances, boilers, and air conditioning units. The electrical work in houses is usually set up with ring circuits and fused plugs like the ceramic cartridge fuse. The voltage and frequency is similar to the United States at 240v and 50Hz. What differs in the United Kingdom is the type of plug. The electrical outlets in the United Kingdom are still considered AC power sockets, however they use exposed pins like the BS 5456 two or three pin. While the alternating current (AC) electrical supply is the same voltage and close to the same frequency, an adapter will be necessary for expats moving from the United States and European countries. The United States uses NEMA or National Electrical Manufacturers Association plugs. A standard plug is usually the NEMA 1-15, a two-pronged plug.

Getting Connected

The United Kingdom, particularly England, has numerous energy companies to choose from. The first thing one must assess is whether there is already an electricity meter at the property. Some new builds might require a meter to be installed.

If a meter is already in place, then you are connected to the electrical grid in your area, however you will still have to decide who is going to supply your power. If you choose a different company from the previous supplier then you will need to ensure that the old supplier has turned off the power. You will then need to file papers that indicate the change. As you use electricity in your home, your meter will be read by the company currently supplying your location.

As soon as the switch notice is received you will be sent a final bill, which must be paid. You will start to pay the new company based on the meter reading conducted during the switch application.

The representative helping you at the electricity company will require your address, user type, and the date you moved in. They will then determine whether you are a permanent or temporary resident at the address. Once this information has been supplied, your bills will start arriving on either a monthly or quarterly basis.

Meters are read once per quarter. For UK residents there are energy plans to make payment easier. Depending on how long you have lived in the UK as an expat you may also be able to obtain a payment plan. The electrical company you choose will want to ensure you have a permanent job in order to set up a payment plan.

Meter Point Administration Services

To find your energy supplier, contact the following services. Each region has its own number to call, or you can telephone the main UK number to find the energy or gas suppliers available in your region.

United Kingdom +44(0) 870 608 1524

Scotland +44(0) 870 900 9690

England +44(0) 845 601 3268

Wales +44(0) 845 270 9101

Major Electrical (Energy) Companies

The following electricity companies are the main energy suppliers throughout the United Kingdom. There are other companies not listed below which may also supply your area. A quick comparison online will tell you which companies are available.

First Utility

iSupply Energy

Ovo Energy


EDF Energy

The Co-Operative Energy Pioneer

British Gas

Sainsbury’s Energy

Scottish Power

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