It can be tough moving into private accommodation in your 1st or 2nd year as a student: dealing with rental agents, landlords and energy bills. Here at Selectra, we will give you a guide on how easy it is to save on your energy bills and make sure you are not paying for anything you shouldn't be.
Don't be another statisticCurrently, over 22 million people in the UK are overpaying on their energy bills on a tariff that they think they can’t change. Don’t be part of a statistic, switch your provider and start saving money.
Who is your supplier?
If you are paying for your energy bills separate to the rent, then you will need to immediately find out who your energy supplier is when you have moved in.
Don’t just settle for the current utilities supplier, you could be paying over the average price for your gas and electricity.
You are entitled to change your supplier with or without your landlord's permission: it is you that is paying the bill at the end of the day.
Read your meters
You do not want to be paying for someone else's bill when you move in: In the odd case, you may find that your first month’s bill is quite a bit higher than what it should be. This could be due to a crossover in tenancies.
To ensure this is not the case, you need to have proof of from what point on your meter your tenancy started.
As such, you should take note of the meters on your first day so that you receive the correct bill.
Take a picture or write the number down in the center of the unit.Your meters will normally be located under the stairs, in a cupboard, or outside of the house. Find out more information about meters here.
Meter checkDepending on the age of the house, the location of your meters will vary.
What tariff should you be on?
Now, this depends on how long you will spend in your student accommodation. You do not want to be spending money on energy for 12 months, when you are only going to be there for 9 months.
If you do your homework, most suppliers will do a variety of contract lengths, so before settling on a supplier, make sure to get the right contract to match your length of stay.
If you do happen to come to an agreement with your landlord on a fixed rate that lasts perhaps one or two years, it will automatically carry on to the next tenants, leaving you free of responsibility after you vacate the property.
If, however, you aren’t able to come to an agreement with your landlord, forcing you into the restrictions of your tenancy dates, you may be subjected to an exit fee to terminate your contract.
On average, a student's expenditure is usually around £22,000 a year, £500 of which going towards energy bills
When signing up for a fixed term contract, you are agreeing to a predetermined length of its term. As such, if you want to cancel the contract early so that you aren’t obliged to continue paying for gas and electricity you aren't using, you may have to pay an exit fee, which is usually in the region of £40 per fuel.
Even so, signing up for a fixed deal and paying the fees is generally much cheaper than a standard tariff, so don’t disregard the idea if you’re only going to be in your accommodation for 9 months or less.
Fixed gas and electricity tariffs will generally work out as being the most beneficial option for the average student: they remove the possibility of any surprises in your bill and they allow you to budget more effectively.
Fixed tariffs are generally cheaper than standard tariffs, which already means you're more likely to get a good deal, but they also take away the risk of any potential rises in price that may your come way.
- Key facts - Check list
- Find out who your energy supplier is
- Read meters
- Search for a better deal
On average, a student’s expenditure is usually around £22,000 a year, £500 of which going towards energy bills.
For one person in a shared house, this is an extremely high amount considering the relative expenditure in a non-student house of a similar size.
Energy companies rely on students not taking the initiative to switch their supply, which is why it is crucial that you take control of your bills and work out a cheap energy deal as soon as you move in.
What is the best meter type?
The amount that you pay for your energy will depend on what meter type you have in your house and what method of payment you use.
An increasing amount of student houses are being installed with smart meters, which are digital meters that display your real time usage in pounds and pence as you use it.
This information is then sent directly to your energy supplier, removing any need for physical meter readings.
If, however, you have a standard meter, we would advise you to check your meter readings regularly so that you don’t incur any estimated charges.
If you have a prepayment meter, you pay for your gas and electricity like a top up phone, by adding credit onto it with a key card. Top ups can be made when you need gas and electricity and can be carried out at most newsagents or supermarkets.
Often, this will work out as being a more expensive option than a standard credit meter, but adds a certain sense of control to your spending: you know exactly how much you are using and it forces you into being much more careful with how much energy you actually use.
How to set up your bill
It is very important to set up your account correctly at the start of your tenancy to ensure that you don’t run into any problems when it comes to leaving your property.
To do this, be sure to add all names of the housemates onto the bill. This will save any problems of just one person being dependant on paying. As a group, read all of the contracts, including the small print, so you are all aware of everything.
- Key facts - Check list
- Set up the contract for your length of stay
- Put all names on the bill
- Split bills between housemates
- Keep a record of bills on a bill-splitting app
Splitting the bill
Dividing the bills in a house could potentially cause problems, so the easiest way to split bills amongst your housemates is an app that splits the bills.
There are many apps available to keep records of household bills, IOU’s or any other spending between your housemates.
The biggest benefit of using an app is seeing exactly who has not paid and who has. That way, you can easily keep up to date with the bills, meaning you don’t have to call house meetings every month.
Be awareDo not pay a company to split your bills for you. Don’t waste money on something you can do yourself and with your roommates.
Don’t needlessly waste your gas or electricity, save your bank balance with these helpful tips:
- Top energy saving tips
- Cut your shower time - You might not want to, but taking a few minutes off your shower will save a lot of energy. The average shower time in the UK is 8 minutes and uses almost 95 liters.
- Don’t use the oven for everything - It might be the easiest option to shove a pizza in the oven, but new microwaves have an oven or grill settings within them. A microwave will use a lot less energy, even if you are using the oven setting.
- Use the kettle - When cooking things like pasta, noodles, or soup, try using the kettle to initially boiling your water instead of the hob. If you are using the hob for certain meals, then the kettle will speed up the preparation.
- Turn off plugs - When using appliances directly from the mains, turn off the main switch or unplug it from the wall when you are finished. If you leave plugs in the wall with the switch still on, you will still use up electricity, even if it is only a small amount.
- Only use the heating when you need it - Try to only turn the heating on when you really need it. Keep blankets around the house and wear jumpers. When you are in the house and the heating is on, turn off the heating when you are not in the house.
- Keep the radiators free - This one might be hard, but try to keep the beds and sofas away from the radiators. Blocking off your radiators will restrict heat flow and prevent your room from being efficiently heated.
- Keep the heat in - When the house is warm, try to keep windows and doors shut so the heat doesn't escape.