Here is a list of generic utilities that, as a property renter, you may be paying bills for:
- Internet & wi-fi
- Phone line
- TV licence
Most student letting agencies include the majority, if not all, of these bills in their set renting prices to make it easier for you. If this is the case, be mindful that the allotted amount you have paid for has to last the whole time you are living there - so if you go over your allotted amount you WILL be liable for the excess.
However, it may be you and your housemate's responsibility to set up and pay for these, separate to your rental agreement, or to contact the previous tenant's providers to either cancel or continue any contracts they had in place.
Making sure there is enough money set aside each month is really important so try and put a set procedure in place with housemates to ensure this happens. We can advise you on this and the top ways to go about finding the best value for money deals at the Advice Centre.
The average student spends over £500 each year on energy bills so we've put together some top tips to help you to minimise your expenditure in rented accommodation!
When looking for a property
All rented accommodation will have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the landlord is legally obliged to let you see a copy of this. The EPC has an A to G rating system, where G is the poorest level of energy efficiency and A is the best. The average EPC rating of a property in the UK is a D rating and if you want to minimise your energy costs then you should seek out a property which is D-rated or better. The EPC will also have a list of recommendations for making the house more energy efficient and we recommend that you ask your landlord to carry out at least all of the 'low cost' measures.
An energy performance certificate
When looking around a property, it's important to look out for the tell-tale signs of a poorly insulated or hard-to-heat property - mould, damp and condensation. Living in a mouldy, damp property can have a significant impact on your wellbeing so try to avoid properties that have evidence of these problems - or ask the landlord to take actions to address them before you move in (e.g. by improving the insulation of the property, installing ventilation or by providing a de-humidifier).
The EPC will include information on the insulation levels of the property but when you visit the property you should check that the windows shut properly and whether the property is draughty. This will have an impact on how much it costs to heat the property so again, if there are problems, ask the landlord to fix them before you move in.
When living in a property
Once you've moved into your property there are loads of things you can do to make sure you minimise your energy expenditure while staying warm.
Get smart! Our first recommendation is to contact your energy company to request a smart meter. Smart meters are the new generation of electricity and gas meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They let you know how much energy you are using in real-time so you can see exactly how much you are spending on energy (rather than waiting months for your first energy bill, as used to be the case). Once you have a smart meter you can get your energy bills under control by using the in-home display that comes with the smart meter to identify what in your house is using loads of energy! Smart meters are available at no additional cost. If you pay the energy bill yourself all you need to do is contact your energy provider to express your interest in getting a smart meter. The time it takes to get it installed will depend on where you live and which energy company you are with. When you get a smart meter installed you don't need to notify your landlord but it is good practice to do so anyway out of courtesy!
Waste less energy! Smart meters help you to easily identify energy waste in your property, but whether you have a smart meter or not, there are loads of things you can do to reduce your wastage. When it comes to your heating make sure you...
Keep warm by putting on layers and closing curtains and windows to keep the heat in. Learn how to programme your boiler so that you're not running the heating 24/7.
Ensure that you open windows to get rid of moisture (e.g. after a shower/cooking) even when it's cold. It requires more energy to heat moist air than dry air so by getting rid of excess moisture you will use less energy to heat the house - it will also reduce the chance of damp, mould and condensation too.
Fit some really simple low cost measures like 'radiator panels' and 'secondary glazing film' - just search on the internet to find out more about them.
When it comes to electric/gas usage you can
- Switch off lights and appliances when not in use!
- Put a lid on your pan when you're cooking
- Cook big meals with your flatmates - it saves time, energy, is socialble and often reduces food waste too!
- Allow your food to cool down before putting it in the fridge/freezer so it cools naturally first
- Defrost your freezer when you get a build up of ice - it makes it run more efficiently
- Don't overfill the kettle