Energy advice for tenants
If you are moving into a rented property, you may find you’re responsible for managing and paying your energy bills yourself, unless they are included within your rent.
Can you switch gas and electricity when renting?
When moving into a rental property, the first thing you need to work out is what type of meters it has, and there are usually two types of meter found in rented properties:
- Regular credit meters
- Prepayment meters
There could also be a third type of meter called an economy 7 meter but these are rare in rented properties. If you do have an economy 7 meter, click here to read our guide to economy 7.
For more information on the different types of energy meter, check out our simple guide to gas and electricity meters.
If you pay your utility bills to your landlord instead of directly paying energy company suppliying power to your home, then you'll not be able to arrange an energy switch. If you think you're paying too much for gas and electricity, it's worth asking your supplier to compare deals and switch to help you save money.
If your name is on the energy bills and you pay the supplier directly, then your free to compare energy prices and switch supplier whenever you want, although it might be worth telling your landlord before you do.
What if you have a credit meter?
A credit meter is the type of meter that most people are familiar with – you use as much energy as you want and then at the end of the month (or quarter) you get a bill telling you how much it’s all cost.
If you’re moving into rented accommodation with a credit meter, it is important that you take a reading of your gas and electricity as soon as you’ve moved in.
When you’ve done this, you should get in touch with your current energy supplier (click here to find out who supplies your energy) to pass along the meter reading. Whilst you’re at it, be sure to change the details on the account to your own. If you don’t, you may well end up paying for energy used by the previous tenant. It could be unlikely, but it is possible.
As soon as you’ve registered this information with the existing energy provider(s) then it’s time to look into comparing electricity and gas for tenants. Comparing is worth doing because the chances are that as new renters, the energy provider will have placed you onto their standard - and most expensive - tariff. 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 on the market by entering your postcode above.
What if you have a prepayment meter?
Prepayment meters are often popular with landlords as they help protect against tenants running up energy debt, then move property without paying. 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 it's one of the most expensive ways to pay for your energy, and although you could ask that the landlord swap the prepayment meter for a credit meter, they may not be too receptive to the idea.
But there are more competitively priced prepayment tariffs on the market, so it’s still worthwhile comparing energy prices and seeing if you can switch to a cheaper supplier. Find out more on our prepayment tariffs page.
What if you share a house?
If you’re only renting a room in a property then there are a couple of other points that you may need to consider.
If possible, have one person arrange all of the energy bill payments for the rest of the tenants, someone who you’re confident will keeps a tab on what is owed and when. It’s also worth finding out when you last changed provider – if it was over a year ago then it is likely that the tariff you were on will have expired and the suppler will have moved your home onto the more expensive standard tariff.
If this is the case then you could be saving money by comparing energy prices – the energy experts at UKPower are able to aid tenants get gas and electricity quotes easily. To get started, pop your postcode in the box at the top of the page, and you could be on your way to saving money in minutes.