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Octopus Agile – is it now an energy tariff worth switching to?

Agile Octopus is a variable tariff where the rates you pay for energy can change half hourly, based on wholesale prices. It's been cheaper than the Price Cap recently – and it even paid customers up to £22 to use electricity in July. It's not right for everyone, but if you use the tariff the right way, it could mean big savings. We've full info below.

The Agile tariff from Octopus, which often tops our customer service ratings, is a complicated tariff, but it has two key features: 

  • The rates you pay change every 30 minutes. The rates are based on a forecast of wholesale prices (what firms pay for energy) for the next day, including nationwide demand for electricity throughout the day – meaning cheaper rates in off-peak periods, usually overnight or in the afternoon, but higher prices in the morning and evening.    

  • It's a smart, electricity-only tariff, for existing customers only. If you're not already with the supplier, you'll need to move to its standard tariff first. You'll also need to get a smart meter, if you don't already have one, so if you don't want (or can't get) one, it's not for you. Plus, as it's an electricity-only tariff, you'll need a separate gas tariff – this could be Octopus' standard tariff, or another firm's. 

With wholesale energy costs falling massively over recent months, Agile Octopus could now be a good option for some households (it's allowed to offer different rates as it's not a standard tariff).

Is Agile Octopus cheaper than the Energy Price Cap?

As it's a very complex tariff, it's difficult to give a definitive answer on whether it can save you money and how much. It all depends on the rates you get, how wholesale energy prices are changing, how much you use and when you use it.

To try to answer this, we looked at the unit rates from the Agile tariff and compared them with the Energy Price Cap electricity rates for for the Midlands region over the week of 3 to 9 July...

Note: Although the data is a few weeks old now, we've checked (on Tuesday 26 September) and the rates have remained around the same level.

Under the Price Cap you'd pay: 

- All day: 29.61p a kilowatt hour (p/kWh) (26.85p/kWh from 1 October)
- Standing charge: 53.96p a day (54.38p from 1 October)

Under Agile Octopus you'd pay: 

- Peak times (around 6am to 10am and 3pm to 8pm): from around 15p/kWh to 38p/kWh 
- Off-peak times: From 2.7p/kWh to about 28p/kWh
- Average: 19.8p/kWh
- Standing charge: 47.5p a day

As you can see, the peak Agile unit rate did go above the unit rate under the Price Cap during the week we carried out our assessment (in fact this happened on 36 half-hourly time slots over the seven-day period). However, the average unit rate over the whole week was just 19.8p/kWh – considerably lower than the Price Cap unit rate. Plus, the tariff's standing charge is lower than the Price Cap standing charge.

Overall, during the week we looked at (3 to 9 July) the average Agile Octopus rate was 19.8p/kWh in the Midlands region – the chart below shows how the rates changed over that period.

  • See how the Agile Octopus rates change over a day

    To give you a full idea of how the rates can change throughout the day, here's Agile Octopus vs the Price Cap for the Midlands region on Sunday 2 July. The negative amounts are when customers were paid by Octopus to use energy:

    Agile Octopus electricity rates vs Price Cap electricity rates over one day

    Time of day

    Agile Octopus

    (p/kWh)

    July to September
    Energy Price Cap
    (p/kWh)

    October to December
    Energy Price Cap
    (p/kWh)

    00.00 to 00:30 0.66 29.61 26.85
    00:30 to 01:00 4.41 29.61 26.85
    01:00 to 01:3026.85 4.41 29.61 26.85
    01:30 to 02:00 0.88 29.61 26.85
    02:00 to 02:30 1.10 29.61 26.85
    02:30 to 03:00 4.41 29.61 26.85
    03:00 to 03:30 3.53 29.61 26.85
    03:30 to 04:00 1.06 29.61 26.85
    04:00 to 04:30 1.76 29.61 26.85
    04:30 to 05:00  5.51 29.61 26.85
    05:00 to 05:30 -0.44 29.61 26.85
    05:30 to 06:00 0.00 29.61 26.85
    06:00 to 06:30 3.07 29.61 26.85
    06:30 to 07:00 9.92 29.61 26.85
    07:00 to 07:30 -8.82 29.61 26.85
    07:30 to 08:00 -1.52 29.61 26.85
    08:00 to 08:30 -8.38 29.61 26.85
    08:30 to 09:00 -4.05 29.61 26.85
    09:00 to 09:30 -3.00 29.61 26.85
    09:30 to 10:00 -3.27 29.61 26.85
    10:00 to 10:30  -0.88 29.61 26.85
    10:30 to 11:00 -4.43 29.61 26.85
    11:00 to 11:30 -5.29 29.61 26.85
    11:30 to 12:00 -10.14 29.61 26.85
    12:00 to 12:30 -10.76 29.61 26.85
    12:30 to 13:00 -13.45 29.61 26.85
    13:00 to 13:30 -19.03 29.61 26.85
    13:30 to 14:00  -19.03 29.61 26.85
    14:00 to 14:30  -11.47 29.61 26.85
    14:30 to 15:00 -11.45 29.61 26.85
    15:00 to 15:30  1.16 29.61 26.85
    15:30 to 16:00 14.67 29.61 26.85
    16:00 to 16:30  2.02 29.61 26.85
    16:30 to 17:00 17.63 29.61 26.85
    17:00 to 17:30 11.49 29.61 26.85
    17:30 to 18:00 18.27 29.61 26.85
    18:00 to 18:30 11.25 29.61 26.85
    18:30 to 19:00 14.77 29.61 26.85
    19:00 to 19:30 16.98 29.61 26.85
    19:30 to 20:00  17.64 29.61 26.85
    20:00 to 20:30  19.85 29.61 26.85
    20:30 to 21:00 17.20 29.61 26.85
    21:00 to 21:30 24.34 29.61 26.85
    21:30 to 22:00 11.47 29.61 26.85
    22:00 to 22:30 19.85 29.61 26.85
    22:30 to 23:00  7.46 29.61 26.85
    23:00 to 23:30 8.86 29.61 26.85
    23:30 to 00:00 4.41 29.61 26.85

While rates are cheaper right now, they can spike suddenly if wholesale rates rise

As the Agile Octopus tariff tracks daily wholesale costs, it gives quicker access to falling prices – but if wholesale starts to climb, so too will the rates you pay. 

Currently, energy prices are controlled by regulator Ofgem's Price Cap, which only change every three months, so there's a big time-lag between changes in wholesale prices and any change to the actual rates we pay for energy.

With Agile Octopus, falling wholesale prices are reflected in the rates you pay almost immediately, and with wholesale rates dropping back massively from all-time highs over the last month or so, now is the perfect time to examine the tariff.

Yet this works both ways – if wholesale prices were to shoot up, as they did last autumn to all-time highs, the rates you pay could shoot up too. Though Agile Octopus has a 100p/kWh maximum cap, so if prices do rise rapidly, there is a limit on what you would pay for each unit of electricity you use.

If you want to leave Agile Octopus, you can switch to Octopus' standard tariff at any time without charge, but you can’t move back to Agile or to any other of its smart tariffs (such as Octopus Tracker) within 30 days.

You can GET PAID to use electricity on Agile Octopus

Agile Octopus is the only tariff in the UK that passes ‘negative’ prices to customers – through what the firm calls ‘Price Plunge’ events. This happens very occasionally whenever more electricity is generated than consumed, meaning wholesale prices drop below zero for a short period. 

This last happened on Sunday 2 July, for eight hours (between 8am and 4pm), when customers on the tariff were PAID up to 20p for every kWh of electricity used.

Price Plunge events don't happen frequently, but when they do, customers are notified by text, so you can take advantage of being paid to use electricity.

If you're considering Agile Octopus, shift your usage out of peak hours to make the most of it

As prices change every 30 minutes, with cheaper rates at certain times of the day when nationwide demand is lower, if you can shift your usage outside of peak periods, the tariff could help you save even more. Yet if you need to use lots of energy during peak periods, you could end up paying more.

According to Octopus, due to volatile wholesale energy prices, it is currently only recommending the tariff to customers with solar panels, home batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) –  as these households may be able to more easily shift use outside of peak periods, or they need to use a lot of electricity overnight to charge their EVs. 

Agile customers are able to check their half-hourly rates for the next day around 4pm each day, either in their online account or through the Octopus app.

Who can get it and how to apply 

To get it, you'll need to do the following: 

  • Step 1. For new customers only – switch to Octopus (existing customers skip to step 2). If you're not already with the firm, you'll first need to switch to Octopus' standard tariff. You can apply online, or give it a call.

    As Agile is an electricity-only tariff, you could switch just your electricity to Octopus' standard tariff, though you might prefer to have both your gas and electricity with the firm for ease. 

  • Step 2. Get a smart meter if you don't already have one. You'll need to ask the supplier for one, then wait for it to be installed and for Octopus to connect to it – this should take a few weeks. If you already have one, and Octopus is already connected to it (so it can receive automatic meter readings), you can skip this step. 

  • Step 3. Ask Octopus to move you to the Agile tariff. Contact it online, via email or on the phone and ask to be moved to the Agile tariff. You'll need to accept new terms and conditions and then you'll be moved across. If you're with Octopus for your gas supply, it will remain on the provider's standard tariff. 

How does Octopus Tracker compare?

Alongside the Agile tariff, the supplier has the Octopus Tracker tariff – a gas and electricity deal that also tracks wholesale energy prices, but the rate you pay only changes once a day, rather than every half hour. 

On the Octopus Tracker tariff, in the Midlands region between 3 and 9 July, the rates were between about 16/kWh and 19p/kWh for electricity, with a standing charge of 47.5p a day. Gas rates were around 4p/kWh, with a standing charge of 26.84p a day. We've full info in our Octopus Tracker news story.

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