Gas and electricity when renting – advice for tenants

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If you are moving into a rented property you will often be responsible to managing and paying your energy bills yourself, unless your bills are included within your rent. This guide to gas and electricity for tenants renting a property will help you ensure your energy costs are kept to a minimum. The first thing to ascertain is what type of meter you have. Essentially there are two types of meter often found in rented properties – regular credit meters and prepayment meters (there could also be a third type of meter called an economy 7 meter but these aren't commonly installed in rented properties. If you do have an economy 7 meter, click here to read our guide to economy 7.)

Properties with Credit Meters

A credit meter is the type of meter that most people are familiar with – you use as much energy you want and then at the end of the month (or quarter) you receive a bill telling you how much you used and how much you have to pay for it. If you are moving into rented accommodation with a credit meter, it is important that you take a meter reading of your gas and electricity meters at the earliest convenience. You should then get in touch with your current energy supplier (click here to find out who supplies your energy) to give a meter reading from when you moved in as well as change the names associated with the account. If you fail to do this you could be paying for energy used by the previous tenant and may end up paying for some of their debt.

As soon as you’ve registered this information with the existing energy provider(s) then it is really important to compare tariffs, as chances are that as new tenants, the energy provider will have placed you onto their standard tariff – typically their most expensive rate available. If this is the case you will almost certainly be able to save money by switching to a cheaper tariff. You can compare every gas and electricity tariff available on the market at by entering your postcode below.

Properties with Prepayment Meters

Prepayment meters are often popular with landlords as it ensures that their tenants can’t accumulate a debt on their energy bill and then move properties without paying it. With prepayment meters you pay for your energy in advance, by adding credit to a key or card, or by purchasing tokens – much like a pay as you go mobile phone.

The major downside to this for renters is that this is one of the most expensive ways to pay for your energy, and although you could request that the landlord swap the prepayment meter for a credit meter, it is unlikely that he/she would be willing to do so. Having said that, there are prepayment tariffs on the market that are cheaper than others so it is still worthwhile comparing energy prices and seeing if you can switch to a cheaper prepayment supplier. Find out more on our prepayment tariffs page.

House shares

If you aren’t renting a full property but are just renting a room in a property then there are a couple of other points that you may need to consider. It may be that one person arranges all of the energy bill payments for the rest of the tenants and just asks that you pay an equal share of the bill. If this is the case you should check with the person that arranges the payment to see when the last time they switched energy provider was. If it was more than a year ago then it is likely that the tariff they were on has expired and they have been moved to the dreaded ‘standard’ tariff. If this is the case then the whole house could save money by comparing the latest tariffs and switching to a cheaper supplier. Enter your postcode in the box below to get started.

Lastly, it is important to ensure that every tenants name is registered with the gas and electricity supplier, to ensure that everyone is liable for the energy debt and not just one person.

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