Many people forget to factor in bills to their budget calculations or at least not a sufficient amount. Take some time to look at the basics on what provision you have in your property and how you can assess your usage as this will help when looking for the optimum suppliers and tariffs.
Please remember to look at your tenancy agreement to see if there are any restrictions on changing supplier/tariff before your proceed. You may need permission in writing from your landlord or agent.
What your bill includes
- The name of the current tariff
- The cost of energy in the last 12 months- The average household tariff is £1250, if you’re well over this, switch!
- An estimate of the next 12 months’ cost- This is based on what you’ve used in the last year and assumes you’ll use the same amount of energy.
- Conditions of contract, including exit fees and end dates.
- Discount information- Supplier must include details of discounts relating to your tariff compared to standard tariffs paid by a debit card.
- Switching info- A reminder that customers can switch but will likely only tell you about their own cheaper tariffs. Always do a full comparison.
What bills don’t explain
- ‘kWh’ means refers to a kilowatt hour and this measures how much energy you use. 1 Kilowatt hour is equal to 1000 watt hours.
- ‘Credit’ means when you have paid extra on your energy bill. ‘Debit’ means you owe the supplier extra.
- Independent Gas Transporters (IGTs) are used by contractors instead of the National Grid in new-build properties as they are cheaper to fit pipes. You may have to pay £40-£70 more on top of any comparison quote, as you will need to pay both the National Grid and the IGT for your gas supply. This charge is passed directly on to you. If your Meter Point Reference Number on your bill is 10 digits long, or starts with a 74 or 75, you’re supplied by a IGT.
How to save money on energy bills
- Every time you receive a bill, do a meter reading. If they’re wrong you’ll have to pay more at the end of the year, if they’re over they’ve unfairly charged you.
- Switching to your company’s internet tariff can save you up to 10%
- Don’t use more hot water than you need! Have a shower instead of a bath.
- If you’re cold put down draught excluders and a jumper.
- Be careful with appliances, switch them off and don’t leave them on standby.
Different kinds of energy meters
Single Rate Digital Meter - Write down the numbers from left to right, including 0’s, but ignoring numbers in red or after the decimal point. The reading for this meter is 07220.
Electronic Meter - May consist of one or more screens, and you might have to scroll through to find it as information can come up in different orders. Letters or numbers will come up on the display to show which rate the reading is for. For example, R1 or R2 = 1 or 2, L or N = Low or Normal.
For all Electronic Meters;
- Ignore the red button. Press the blue button to change the screen display.
- Write down all the numbers from left to right including any 0’s. Ignore any numbers in red, or after the decimal point. The reading for the above meter is 55868
Single Rate 6 Digital Meter - Write down all the numbers from left to right, including 0’s. Ignore numbers in red or after the decimal point. The reading for this is 072201
Dial Meter - Each dial turns in the opposite direction to the one before it. Read the five dials from left to right, ignoring the dial marked 1/10. Write down the number that the pointer has just passed. If the pointer is between 9 and 0, put 9.
If the pointer is exactly on a number and the following dial reads ‘9’, you need to take one away from the number. The above reading 76417
Two Rate/ Economy 7 meter - This may have two rows of numbers. The top row (marked Low or Night) shows your used units of off-peak electricity. The bottom row (Normal or Day) shows the used units of peak electricity.
To read, write down all the numbers left to right including 0’s. Ignore numbers in red, or after the decimal point. The reading for this is 556315 and 217457.
Wattless Meter - This records units in kVArh. Write down all the numbers from left to right, including 0’s. Ignore numbers in red, and after the decimal point. This reading is 24621.
Water is billed at a fixed annual price unless the property has a meter. This could be located externally. If you have one, your bill will be measured off this. Some landlords include water bills in rent but you must double check this.
Your annual water and sewer services bill is made up of a fixed charge and a charge based on the rateable value of your property. For water this works out as £107.84 + £64.87 rateable rate, and for sewerage it is fixed charge of £143.08 + £68.99 rateable value. It is on average approximately £500 a year for a property.
Telephone, Internet and TV
If the property has a landline, the tenant is responsible for paying the bill. If there is no telephone line, you will have to pay an installation or connection fee to set it up.
If the property has a TV, or you want to watch TV through a digital box, computer, laptop or mobile (including BBC Iplayer) then you will have to get a TV licence. The property only needs one TV licence if you live in a joint tenancy. If you have a sole tenancy and a TV in your room, then you will need a separate licence.
When signing up for phone, internet and TV packages, be careful about discounted prices as it might be an offer that ends after a certain period of time. When that time ends, costs might escalate.
How to cut Broadband costs
- Faster advertised speed does not mean faster broadband. This can sometimes be the maximum potential speed. Many factors affect your actual speed, including;
- How close your home is to the phone exchange
- The condition of lines and wiring
- How many people are using the same broadband in the local area and in your home
- The number of programs being used, including in the background.
- Check your data limit, aim for unlimited or you might get a penalty charge!
- Fibre Optic is not essential; a common 16Mb connection can be ample unless you’re a heavy streamer or downloader.
- Getting a broadband and line rental bundle can be more cost effective. Many cheap broadband deals fail to advertise line rental as well
- If you’re under contract you can haggle to existing price down if the exit penalties are not too high. If you call and threaten to leave, an operator will try and retain you by offering discounts.
- Using an ‘all bills included’ service during a tenancy but double check your monthly usage as you may be paying more than you need. Most companies will not give tenants the bill as your landlord is the customer and is required to pay. This gives the landlord the potential of making an extra profit if your energy usage is less than what they are billing you for. Always confirm the energy provider with the landlord or agent before signing a tenancy agreement.
- If one of the tenants doesn’t pay then unfortunately if your name is on the contract you will be liable to pay the shortfall. If you use a bill management service, this doesn’t override the tenancy or ownership agreement for the property, which usually says the responsibility to pay bills is ‘joint and several’. This overrides any agreement you later make with the bill management company.
If you are having problems with your bills and need help, please book an appointment with the Student Advice Centre so one of our advisers can help.