Learning how to set up and manage your energy bills may not be the most exciting thing about being a student, but it’s an essential part of your time at university.
You’ve got a lot of things to think about when you’re a student – from finding your bearings in a new city and making sure you meet all of your deadlines to doing your own washing and learning how to cook more than just beans on toast. Energy bills probably won’t be your number one priority, but if you get them sorted sooner rather than later, it’ll make your life much easier.
Setting up and managing your own bills can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry though, our simple guide will tell you everything you need to know, helping you get set up quickly, easily and with the minimum amount of stress. So, let’s get started.
What to do when moving in to a student house
Sorting out your gas and electricity supply should be one of the first things you do when you move into your student house – after you’ve decided who gets the biggest room, of course.
First things first, you should already know who’s responsible for paying for your energy bills. Some landlords will offer an ‘all-inclusive’ deal, where your utilities – things like gas, electricity, water, broadband etc. – are included with your rent. However, if this isn’t the case, it’s up to you and your housemates to make sure your energy bills are paid.
Next, you need to find out who is currently supplying the gas and/or electricity to your property. Don’t worry if your landlord hasn’t given you this information, it’s pretty simple to find out for yourself.
To find out who your gas supplier is, just call the Meter Number Helpline on 0870 608 1524. To find out who your electricity supplier is, you can call your regional electricity distribution number – just pick your region out of the below.
Once you know who your current supplier is and what tariff you’re on, you can start doing some research to find out if you could be getting a better deal elsewhere. It’s a common misconception with students that you’re not allowed to switch suppliers when you’re renting, but this isn’t true. If you’re in charge of paying the bills, you’re completely within your legal rights to switch suppliers.
We know money can be tight when you’re a student, especially when you’re waiting for that next loan payment to come through! Switching energy supplier is quick, easy and can end up saving you around £200 a year – enough for 400 packets of instant noodles!
How to choose the right energy tariff for you
As a consumer, you have more choice than ever before when it comes to choosing an energy supplier and tariff. All of this choice can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you’re looking at tariffs, you’ll probably come across the term ‘dual fuel’. This is a type of tariff where you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier, rather than two separate ones. This can end up being easier, as you only have to worry about one contract and one bill.
If you’re just concerned about getting the cheapest possible energy tariff, you can compare prices online to find the best deal for you in a matter of minutes.
Check out our handy price comparison tool to see how much you could save
There are a number of other things you may want to take into account when choosing a supplier and tariff, however. As well as price, you might want to go with a supplier that has a proven track records of excellent customer service, or one that shares similar ethical values with you. Or perhaps your top priority is having a supplier that offers simple online communication and paperless billing. Working out what’s most important to you can make choosing a supplier and tariff that much easier.
How to switch your energy supplier
Switching energy supplier is surprisingly easy and could save you hundreds of pounds on your annual household bills. All you need is your postcode and a copy of your latest energy bill – we’ll handle the rest. The entire process usually takes between four and six weeks and we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.
Find out more about how to switch energy supplier
How to manage your energy bills
So you’ve found the right energy tariff and completed your switchover, now it’s time to make sure your bills are paid on time – you don’t want to miss payments and risk financial penalties.
In student houses, there are two common ways people usually approach managing bills. First, and the most popular option, is to share responsibility for household bills. This basically means everyone in your house takes responsibility for a different bill – this might be energy, water, council tax, broadband, TV license or any other subscription you may have. After everyone has paid their assigned bill each month, you work out who has paid more and each pay them some extra to make up the difference.
The second option is to set up a kitty which covers all of your bills. Everyone pays a certain amount into the kitty at the start of each month, and this is used to pay your bills. You might even set up a joint bank account to make things easier – this way you can set up direct debit payments, which can save you money, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting and missing payments.
Whichever option you choose to take, make sure you submit regular meter readings to your energy provider. This will help ensure you receive accurate bills and aren’t overcharged for your energy.
Find out more about how to read your meter
How to save energy
We’ve already discussed how you can save hundreds of pounds each year by switching your energy provider, but the savings don’t stop there. By cutting down on your energy consumption, not only can you help reduce your carbon footprint, but you can save yourself some money along the way.
From turning down the thermostat to opening your curtains, there are plenty of really easy things you can do to save energy and reduce your bills.
Check out our 8 easy energy saving tips for students