At some point, many university students will have the responsibility for setting up and paying their student utility bills. It’s definitely not considered one of the more glamorous aspects of being a student. If it’s not something you’ve done before, it can also be fairly confusing, as well as time consuming.
To help save you some pain, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to student utility bills which will cover everything you need to know and hopefully save you some money!
We’ll be covering:
- Which utilities you’ll need to pay for
- How to check supply connections
- How to setup your utility bills
- The cost of your utility bills
- How to split bills with student room mates
- Tips to save money on student utility bills
Let’s get started!
Which Utilities You Need To Pay For
As a student, the main utilities you’ll need to pay bills towards are:
- Water & Sewage
Then depending on individual circumstance, some students may also have to pay bills towards:
- A TV Licence
- Student Council Tax
- Contents Insurance
- Digital TV Packages
- Accommodation Rents
Gas and electricity bills, typically referred to as ‘Energy Bills’ make up the majority of all utility bill expenses.
Although uncommon in student rentals, if your student home has oil central heating, we would advise speaking to your landlord as oil is normally ordered, paid for, then delivered. The oil tank will need topping up at regular intervals depending on energy consumption.
Water & Sewage Bills
Water and sewage bills cover the cost of water and sewage infrastructure. Full time students are still required to pay water bills, however, a lot of student landlords will include the cost as part of the rent. If your unsure who should pay this, double check with you landlord
How to Check Supply Connections
One of the first things you should do when you move into your new student home, is to check that your electric, gas and water supply are all fully connected.
How To Perform Each Check
- Electric supply – turn on a light switch
- Gas supply – turn on a gas cooker or turn on a radiator
- Water supply – turn on the taps
If each of these services is working as expected, this indicates that the supply is connected. It’s unusual for these services to not be connected. If for some reason they appear not to be connected, reach out to your landlord right away.
How to Take Meter Readings
Once you’ve confirmed your energy services are fully connected, the next thing to do is to take the meter readings.
Why Take Meter Readings?
From the date a tenancy commences, the tenant is placed by the energy suppliers on what’s called a “deemed contract”. This is automatically set up by any energy suppliers the previous tenant used, unless your landlord has set it up otherwise.
A deemed contract will be slightly more expensive than a standard contract but will only last up until the day you switch or confirm your new tenancy with an existing energy supplier.
Taking the meter readings at the start of a new tenancy is important, as it ensures you only pay for the energy you consume during your tenancy.
Taking the Meter Readings
All student properties will have electric meters but not all properties will have a gas meter.
Meters will normally be located in cubbyholes near the main front or back entrance, outside in meter boxes or they can also be located in basements or cellars.
In most flats and apartments all the meters for each flat or apartment, will normally be located together in the same place, with the meter for your flat or apartment labelled accordingly.
If you have trouble finding the meter(s) have a read through any information packs you may have been provided, otherwise give your landlord a shout.
There are all sorts of meters out there for both gas and electricity. The way you read these meter’s can vary but fear not, we’ve put together some useful guides outlying the various meter types and how to read them, so be sure to check them out if it’s something your unsure about:
Steps to Setting up Student Utility Bills
Find the current suppliers
Once you have all the meter readings, the next priority is to find out who the current energy suppliers are.
Quick Tip: See if there are any utility bills lying around to quickly identify who the current energy suppliers are or ask your landlord as they may already know.
Don’t open any letters or bills addressed to a specific name as this is deemed illegal. Look for letters addressed to the ‘Current Occupier’ or ‘Current Tenant’, as those letters you can legally open.
Find the Electric Supplier
In order to find out who the electric supplier is, you will first need to know the energy network.
Use this Energy Networks Association postcode search tool which will provide you with the name and telephone number of your network operator. The network operator will be able to tell you who supplies your electricity.
Find the Gas Supplier
Use the Find My Supplier tool to find your gas supplier. It will provide you with the name of your supplier and a meter point reference number, aka ‘MRPN’. Take note of the MRPN, the supplier will use this to locate your gas meter.
Once you have the supplier details, make contact and provide them with your tenancy details and the meter readings you took earlier. When the supplier has this information you will be transferred onto the standard tariff.
Compare and Switch Energy Providers
Whilst most students will just gloss over their student bills and accept any old set-up, there’s inherent value and benefit for those who take the time to compare their bills. Knowing how to compare and switch energy providers can save you a good few hundred pounds each study year.
Learn everything you need to know about comparing and switching energy providers in our Student Bills Comparison Guide.
The Cost of Student Utility Bills
Various factors such as location, time of year, house insulation, number of house mates, living habits etc etc, will all play a part in how much you end up paying, so use the costs displayed below as more of an indication.
This table show the average monthly costs students typically spend on gas and electric each month.
|1 - 2 Bed||£45||£44||£89|
|3 - 4 Bed||£70||£69||£139|
Since these are ball mark figures, at the start of your tenancy, we recommend setting aside a monthly budget to cover the likely cost of your utility bills until your able to work out your own average monthly spend as the year progresses.
Learn ways to Reduce Student Costs where we take a more in-depth looks at student housing costs
How to Split Bills with Student Room Mates
That last thing you want is to end up arguing with your house mates over who should pay what.
When it comes to who’s responsible for which payments, student housemates will need to decided and agree how the payments will be shared equally.
Every student home will be unique but there are a few things you can do which will make managing any shared bill payments easier.
Place all Names on the Bills
By law, if only one persons name is on the bill, then that person is solely responsible for the bill payments. Placing all housemates names on each of the bills spreads this responsibility. With jointly named utility bills, every housemate is responsible for an equal share of the bill.
This is the fairest way to share bills, it also incentives everyone to pay on time, in order to avoid getting a bad credit score. If you use this method, only those individuals who fail to pay, will be given a bad credit score.
Split the responsibility for each of the bills between housemates. As an example, one housemate would take responsibility for electric, another for gas and another for broadband.
Once bill responsibilities have been allocated, each time a bill payment is due, the person who has been allocated to pay that bill can ensure each housemate has paid their share of the bill and that the bill is paid on time.
If you decide to take this approach, ensure that everyone is responsible enough to meet any payment deadlines and the bills don’t get forgotten or missed.
Use a Joint Bank Account
Set up a joint bank account in each housemates name and fund the account with a monthly kitty.
With a joint bank account, two or more housemates can manage the same account. This can also be used to pay the bills from, once money has been pooled together into a kitty.
Estimate the overall monthly costs of the bills and split the costs between each housemate. Each housemate can then pay their share of the estimated amount into the account each month. If there are any funds left in the account at the end of the tenancy, once all bills payments have been met, this can then be divided up between housemates. It could even be used for one final house party!
Use Bill Splitting Apps
There are a number of free bill spiting apps available which are a great way to manage bill payments between several student housemates.
Tips to save money on utility bills
- Ask about bills getting included in the rent
- Shop around for the best deals
- Always read the small print
- Choose the right traffic and contract length (Ideally 12 months max as a student)
- Sort your bills out as soon as possible
- Take regular meter readings & avoid estimates (Check out smart meters)
- Don’t set water and heating temperatures too high
- Ensure radiators are drained
- Don’t block radiators with furniture
- Use a radfan
- Take showers instead of baths
- Turn of lights and plug switches when not in use
- Wear warm cosy clothing when chilling out
If your still looking for a student home or starting to think about moving next year? Check out our property listings.