Gas and electricity for students
Students often have a limited income, so it’s really important to make every penny count. After rent, the greatest ongoing cost associated with moving away are the student gas and electricity bills – particularly when you take into account most students’ reliance on computers and mobiles.
Although there are no tariffs that offer cheap gas and electricity for students, there are plans that are more affordable than others, so our switching advice is the same for students as it is for regular homeowners – just enter your postcode in the box above to run an energy comparison that could potentially help knock hundreds of pounds off your annual gas and electricity bills.
Or keep on reading for more tips on how students can keep energy prices as low as possible.
Living in a shared house
If you're sharing a property with others (a student home, for example) then there are a couple of points that you may want to consider.
If possible, designate one person who can manage the household bills and keep on top of how much each householder owes and when they need to pay it.
Find out the last time the property’s energy supplier was switched - if it was more than a year ago then it is likely that the tariff the previous owners were on has expired. If this is the case, you'll almost certainly be on an expensive, standard plan and it’s time to run quotes to find the cheapest energy provider for students. To get started, enter your postcode above.
As a handy tip, make sure that each member of the house is named on the energy account - this way, everyone in the house is liable for the debt, not just one person. It sometimes pays to be smart.
What type of meter does the house have?
You also need to find out is what sort of energy meter your student property uses.
Prepayment meters are often installed in student properties, meaning you’ll have to pay for your gas and electricity upfront by purchasing tokens or adding credit to a top-up card.
They're popular with landlords because it gives them a level of security against energy debt, but the bad news for students is that this is probably the most expensive way to pay for your power. If you've moved into a home with a prepayment meter, it’s unlikely the landlord will change to a credit meter, but it might be worth asking anyway, to help cut your bills.
But if you’re stuck with a prepayment meter, there are different prepayment tariffs available. Some are cheaper than others, so you should still be comparing these to see if you could save money. There is more information about this on our prepayment meters page.
If you have a standard system that allows you to use energy first, with a bill coming later, then you have a better chance of making a bigger saving on your energy bills.
The first couple of things you should do when you move in are take meter readings and call up your energy supplier. You do this because you need to update the information from the previous tenant. It doesn't take long and, although it's a bit of a pain, it ensures that you won’t be paying the previous tenants debt (if there is any) and that any future debt will be the responsibility of every tenant in the house, not just the person that set up the account.
How to switch energy supplier
If you're moving into a student rental where you’re responsible for paying the energy bill, you are entitled to shop around in order to find a cheaper supplier for your home. You can either:
- Ask your landlord who the energy supplier is.
- If they don’t know, you can call these numbers and find out.
Then you just need to enter your postcode at UKPower to run an instant energy comparison to see how much you could save – every penny helps as the end of term approaches.
How to cut your student utility bills
The simplest way to cut your student utility bills is to simply shop around to find the cheapest deals.
This isn’t always possible, as in the case of water rates and TV licensing, but significant savings can be made by comparing deals on energy, broadband, smartphone, insurance and digital TV packages – before you sign up to any deal, shop around to find the best deals to suit the needs and budget of you and your housemates.
Although you won't be in your student house for the full year, it might be worth switching to a 12-month fixed rate deal to take advantage of the better rates on offer and avoid any price hikes. You can find out more about how these deals work by reading Everything You Need To Know About Fixed Rate Energy Tariffs.
Then consider ways you can help keep utility costs low, such as turning lights off in rooms that aren’t in use, and making sure people don’t leave the fridge door open, even if they’re stood there staring into the chilled abyss.
If you have a washing machine in your house, only ever wash full loads, try to wash on cooler temperatures, and avoid using the dryer by hanging clothes to dry wherever possible.
Try turning the heating down a little, or tun it off completely and wrap up warm instead - adding an extra layer of clothing may seem like pretty rudimentary advice, but it certainly works. If you do have the heating on, make sure furniture and curtains aren’t covering radiators and heaters, as this will stop them working efficiently.
If possible, take quick showers instead of baths, or use the facilities at your campus gym instead, if you’re a member.
And take extended study breaks in the library, instead of using energy at home – the smallest changes soon add up to significant savings, particularly if everyone in your house is on board with them.
For even more ways to save energy and money, check out How To Reduce Your Electricity and Gas Usage.