Best value gas and electricity suppliers 2014
Let’s be honest, there’s better things to do with your time than setting up utility accounts. Save yourself time, money and hassle with our comparison guide.Now the good news is that big savings are there for the taking when it comes to energy bills!
In this student guide we’ll introduce you to some great money saving tips and share the best deals right now for gas, electricity or both combined.
8 money saving tips for student energy bills
SWITCH, SWITCH, SWITCH
Apologies for the capitals but we cannot stress this enough.
9 times out of 10 you will be able to switch to a cheaper supplier. Don’t make the mistake of just sticking with the one that the house currently has.
In recent years the government has made it easy to switch so you have no excuse not to shop around a little.
Plus, we’ve got the best options to switch to for students below too.
Go for gas & electricity dual tariff
Not all properties have a gas connection, but if you do then it’s usually cheaper to combine your energy bills under a dual tariff with a single supplier.
The other benefit is saving time and hassle by having just one single bill and dealing with one company rather than two.
Fix your gas & electricity prices now
Fixing energy prices can be a good move, chiefly because year-on-year they go up and up.
Locking into a set price protects you from any future hikes for the length of your contract, and in doing so makes things easier when it comes to budgeting and splitting bills evenly across your housemates.
What’s more some companies (such as EDF) don’t have any cancellation fees even when you lock in a price.
Go for an online tariff
Applying for or switching to an energy tariff with only online billing could save you around £200 a year (as opposed to a standard tariff with paper billing).
It also does wonders for keeping your hallway tidy!
All of your bills will be handled on your online account, where you can also set up easy monthly payments which are taken automatically.
Choose Direct Debit
Paying your bills by Direct Debit could save you a further 10% with some suppliers.
Be aware that there may be a difference between the amount of energy used and what you paid for when you submit your final meter readings, in which case you will either have to pay more (debit) or ask for the difference to be refunded(credit).
Check your meters
Your chosen energy supplier will use the usage levels of the previous tenants to estimate your own monthly payments.
To make sure you’re only paying for what you use (and not inheriting another person’s account) you should take regular meter readings and tell your supplier as soon as possible.
You’ll also need to do the same when you eventually move out.
To reduce the risk of paying too much or too little during your contract, it’s a good idea to submit meter readings every 3 months or so. Just imagine if you were paying £30 too little a month, that’s a prickly £360 bill at the end of 12 months which you wouldn’t have expected.
Get bills included in rent
If you can find accommodation that is inclusive of basic bills (gas, electricity, water, internet) then you could make some great savings, so long as the rent is reasonable!
It also makes things much easier in that you don’t have to worry about splitting up bills (see below).
Bills included with rent is quite rare to find nowadays, but you could always ask by way of negotiating with the landlord or letting agency.
Split the bills
Most student houses are shared dwellings, meaning that you’ll need to figure out a way of splitting your utilities bills between housemates.
It’s never straight forward, so remember to note down everything that you’ve paid for over the year for the house and what you’re likely to owe others (or be owed).
A popular way of dealing with bill splitting for students is to delegate the various utilities (eg. water, gas, electricity, broadband and phone and the TV licence) between housemates and working out who owes who what at the end of each month.
More on this in our full guide to student bills.
Best student energy suppliers for 2014
Energy Helpline (Comparison site)
Whilst it isn’t a supplier as such, little known EnergyHelpline.com is our favourite when it comes to comparing energy suppliers.
This website is one of the most trusted, transparent and comprehensive comparison sites for gas and electricity tariffs and allows you to complete the whole process in a few steps.
For most student households, EDF are currently our best buy energy supplier. They offer the best value on gas and electricity and customer service reviews are very good.
You can use EDF’s Blue+ Price Promise to fix your tariff at the current rate and also ensure that there are no cancellation fees (great for 9 month housing contracts).
Also, they will tell you if they find a cheaper supplier and let you switch to them.
Energy prices are fixed until 2015, but you may want to switch if prices do rise during your tenancy.
Make sure that you switch as soon as possible and you could save up to £400 over 12 months and cancel whenever you want to.
The energy prices that nPower offers are some of the cheapest on the market, and if you fix now then you will have a great deal all year.
You can also compare your current supplier with their prices to see how much you could save on their website.
The downside to nPower is their poor reputation for customer service, and you may have to pay a cancellation fee.
The best of the rest
We are aware that there are many more student energy companies out there but these are our top picks in terms of value for money.
British Gas is a famous energy supplier and the customer service is second to none but the price hikes that they have set mean that they are not good value for money.
Your best bet is to head over to Energy Helpline as they can sort out all the confusion for you.