Moving into new student accommodation is an exciting time, but it also comes with a crash course in financial management. Although not as exciting as sourcing a new duvet cover or breakfast bowl set, dealing with bills is an unavoidable part of day-to-day life. But while it may feel a little overwhelming to get your head around them, providing you keep on top of payments and stay communicative with your suppliers, it’s normally straightforward.
Here are some tips for you to help manage your utility bills as a student and keep the costs down for you and your housemates.
Depending on your area, water companies charge households in two different ways; ‘Unmetered’ (charged at a set rate) or ‘Metered’ (you’re billed for the volume of water you use). Find out which applies to you. If you’re metered, you may want to think about ways you can reduce water consumption to lower your costs.
Sharing bath water with your housemates probably won’t be appealing, so have a chat and agree on ways to be considerate with your water. All UK residents can access water-saving packs through their local water company, and these include items such as shower egg timers, shower regulators and toilet cistern bags to reduce your water consumption.
Tip: It's important to note that water bills are normally charged every 6 months rather than monthly.
Gas and Electricity
Find out from your landlord or Letting Agent which energy company currently supplies gas and electricity to your house. It’s your responsibility to let them know you’re the new occupants when you move in. Take a meter reading on your first day of moving in and snap a photo on your phone. This is very important so you’re not charged for anything a previous occupant may have used.
Not every property will be rigged up to a gas supply, but if yours is you may find you can get a better deal by opting for a company that can combine the two (a dual tariff).
Of course, obvious things like putting on a thicker jumper rather than turning up the thermostat will play some part in helping you reduce your bills. But with energy prices set to soar this year, woolly socks will only get you so far.
Suppliers will often put you on their base rate standard variable tariff when you first get in touch with them (after October 2022, this will be
Find out how you are required to pay for this. Some homes have prepayment meters installed, meaning you’d be required to top up your meters before you use your energy. These generally end up working out a lot more expensive in the long run and is something worth looking out for when you view a property.
If your energy is billed, you should be able to pay through Direct Debit. Although you probably won’t be in your house for the full year, it still might work in your favour to switch to a 12-month fixed-rate deal to make use of more competitive rates and avoid any surprise price hikes.
Broadband and TV
Don’t leave it until the last minute to get connected to broadband or you’ll be waiting for installation. As soon as you know your move date, you can type your new home’s postcode into a broadband comparison site to find out what deals are available in your area.
Try not to get caught up in the lure of expensive broadband and TV bundles. These are only worthwhile if you use everything they offer. It’s far better to opt for a decent broadband service that’s speedy enough to cope with all your needs (30Mbps+ should serve you well) and to use streaming services and Freeview instead.
Make a note of the contract lengths when you compare a broadband package.18-month contracts will often look cheaper but won’t fit well alongside term times. Always make a note of the contract end date. If you’re still in your accommodation when your contract expires and you intend to stay put for another year, you will often get a better deal by switching or re-negotiating at the end of your contract term.
Sharing the load
The key to stress-free bill management is to keep organised and communicate. Never put these things off – it’s always more difficult to troubleshoot a forgotten bill and deal with the consequences.
Have an open conversation with your housemates as soon as you move into your new home about how you want to split bills. Rather than lay the burden on one of you to deal with payments, there are many different bill-splitting apps you can use to spread costs fairly and these will remind you when you have upcoming charges.
Finally, always remember to set up alerts, direct debits and standing orders and make a note of contract expiry dates so your bills are paid on time. Once you get into the swing of term time, these things are often easy to forget.
Emma Davenport is a freelance writer and photographer with 20 years of experience writing about consumer tech for print and online. She studied Contemporary Media Practice at the University of Westminster.
This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 15px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
We're always interested to hear from talented young writers, so if you'd like to feature as a guest author then hit us up for more details.