One of the biggest drains on many students homes is the energy bills. Apparently, an average-sized UK student household will spend around £90 a month on gas and electricity. In this part of our student bill series, we offer some quick and painless ways to make the dream of cheap student bills an actual reality.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘Student’ as ‘One who is often broke!‘. Even if you don’t feel all that broke, rest assured, if you’re a UK university student, then, you’re probably broke!
By the time we’re done with university, most of us anyway, will have a debt of around £50k in loans to pay back and yet somehow the ‘maintenance loan’ we receive from Student Finance is only enough to maintain our poverty.
It could be argued, that we could all spend less money on nights out, taxis, microwave meals and streaming subscriptions – but then, what would be the point in going to uni in the first place?
As much as our energy bills can drain our bank account, there are certain things we can do and ways to manage that drain which would significantly cut down the overall costs. Sound like something you’d like to learn more about? Then read on for student money saving tips, so hot your radiator will look embarrassed!
Ten Tips For Cheap Student Bills
Tip #0: Use Your Common Sense
This isn’t really a ‘hot tip’ as such, but some of you may need to hear these:
- Don’t set your thermostat to 24C and then sit in your underwear when you could have just put a hoodie
- Don’t leave windows wide open (especially when you go out!)
- Don’t leave the lights on in rooms you aren’t using.
- Turn off plug switches for any appliances you’re not using.
- Turn the boiler off when not at home, even if it’s just for a few hours.
- Don’t block your radiators with furniture or clothing.
- Take showers instead of baths as they use less heat as well as water.
If these tips and ideas are new and interesting to you, then prepare to have your mind blown with the tips which follow… let’s continue!
Tip #1: Get Your Bills Included in the Rent
If you haven’t yet accepted a tenancy agreement for the academic year, try to look for student accommodation where the landlord includes the energy bills as part of the rent, in a cheap student bills package.
Besides simplifying your outgoing costs and preventing arguments amongst your flatmates, it means you can blast the radiator and leave the lights on all day and not have to worry about anything – except, of course, the poor polar bears.
The rest of the utilities, like your water usage will also likely be included. Just make sure you inspect the contract carefully for any usage limits, so there’s no nasty surprises when the fridge turns off halfway through the month.
Spare student rooms in a private household can be a great option, as bills are usually bundled with the rent.
If included bills isn’t on the cards, asking for the energy-rating of the property, which accounts for the quality of radiators, windows and insulation – is a smart consideration to make before deciding to rent somewhere. The range is large: from A to G; so make sure you’re somewhere near the start of the alphabet at least.
Tip #2: Shop Around for the Best Deals
If you end up having to pay and manage your own energy bills, don’t fret, there are still savings to be had if you’re willing to put the work in and do some research.
Sadly, an entire third of the country’s household population have never switched energy providers. Half haven’t switched in the last three years. Those households are missing out on potential savings of £320 per year.
Use comparison sites like MoneySupermarket to compare prices and keep those profit-hungry energy monoliths in check! This is basically activism, and woke, activist students are far more successful on Tinder.
— Learn more about comparing energy providers and finding the best deals
Tip #3: Take Your Own Meter Readings & Avoid Estimates
In addition to never checking if they’re even getting a good deal from their provider, on their price per unit of gas and electricity, most households also let their provider estimate their usage. This means the provider assumes your usage based on factors such as past usage, local weather and building insulation and then charges you based on that.
Your student accommodation could have been empty and unused for days but the energy provider would assume you were using heating, etc. as usual. You could be following all the common sense tips – diligently switching off lights and appliances – and they may well be assuming usage based on past care-free student tenants.
This is obviously less than ideal. If your unsure how to take a meter reading or not even sure where your utility meters are located, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
How to take an Electric Meter Reading
How to take a Gas Meter Reading
Calculating your own energy usage may look lame, but it’s the holy grail of cheap student bills.
Tip #4: Bleed Your Radiators
Ensure radiators are bled so that they can run more efficiently. Bleeding means releasing the air that gets stuck in the system. Doing this requires a radiator key which you can buy online for less than a quid. This makes a big difference to any student money saving goals you have, also, your dad would be proud.
To get the gist of how to do it, you can watch this handy tutorial by the lovely Tony:
Tip #5: Want Cheap Student Bills? Use a Radfan!
The Radfan is a simple product that you mount on your radiator. It can be set up in 30 seconds and then runs itself by turning itself on when the radiator is hot, and off when it’s cold. It’s designed to improve the flow of convected heat around the room, thus reducing the amount of energy you need to pump into your radiator to heat your student home. They’re also lab-tested, and government funded which is pretty rad.
Find out more about them and take a look here to find a great deal.
Bonus Tip: They only fit onto the rectangular, metal, water-filled, classic-style radiators, so be sure to check before you order one.
Tip #6: Use Energy-efficient Electrical Appliances & Your
Electrical Appliances Energy-efficiently
- Putting your appliances like your TV and Playstation on timer plugs will mean you don’t have to remember to switch them off.
- Use your dishwasher, if you have one, as it apparently uses less energy than handwashing. Just make sure it’s full everytime.
- If you have a washing machine, only use it when it’s loaded to capacity – coordinate with your housemates and have a laundry day together. Wash at 30?C, it works just fine with most detergents these days.
- Don’t use a tumble-dryer as they’re horribly energy inefficient – a clothes rack will do. Swap out all your lightbulbs for energy-efficient versions. They’re a little pricier upfront, but last far longer, are cheaper to run and will save you loads of cash over their lifetime.
- If your radiators are old-style electric heaters, consider asking your student landlord to update them. They use far more energy efficient than modern ones and they decrease the value of the property because they lower the overall energy rating – so it’s a win-win for you and your landlord.
Tip #7: Use Blankets, Hot-water bottles, and Cute Microwavable
Of course, you should always wrap up warm even when inside, so you don’t have to turn the thermostat up higher than it needs to be. But have you considered other cosy alternatives? Hot-water bottles are great, using one is like having a bath on the couch. Electric blankets may be even more energy-efficient. I am also unashamed to admit that I have a green dinosaur called Debra that I heat up in the microwave – you can buy these microwavable plushies online or in a store like Ryman’s. Debra smells like lavender too.
Tip #8: Exploit Your University’s Amenities!
The ultimate life-hack to get cheap student bills: make your university pay for them. Taking all of your devices – laptop, phone, tablet, camera, whatever, and charging them at the library is a pro move. Don’t feel guilty, you’re paying like £9000 a year, surely some of that is for some free, juicy electricity. Plus, it won’t hurt your academic prospects to spend a bit more time in that place now would it?
Hey, you could even take a few power-banks and portable batteries and charge ’em up there too, that way you can take the free, juicy electricity home with you too, it’s win-win. If only there was a way to steal their hot air…
Tip #9: Avoid Pay-as-you-go Energy Plans
Paying ad-hoc may feel cheaper, but just as with all subscription services, signing up for a longer-term contract will save you hundreds in the long run. It requires more admin on the part of the supplier and they pass the burden of that cost onto you – just avoid these altogether.
So there you have it, a complete guide to getting cheaper student bills by saving costs on your energy bills. Follow every single one of these tips and the energy companies will be basically paying you. The polar bears will also express their gratitude for your environmental considerations.
Check out some our other articles for both student accommodation and money saving tips:
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