Best value gas and electricity suppliers 2018
Let's be honest, you've got better things to do with your time than spending hours setting up energy bills. Save yourself time, money and hassle with our guide.
Sorting out your gas and electricity supplier can feel like a bit of a minefield, but unfortunately it's necessary!
The good news is that there are big savings up for grabs when it comes to your energy bills and we're here to make the whole process of choosing the right provider as easy as possible.
Follow our tips on getting the best deal as a student and how to keep your bills rock bottom!
What’s in this guide?
8 money saving tips for student gas and electricty bills
SWITCH, SWITCH, then switch again
Apologies for the capital letters but we cannot stress this enough.
Don't make the mistake of just sticking with the supplier that the house currently has when you move in – nine times out of ten you'll be able to switch to a cheaper offer.
Although some energy providers will charge a fee if you leave your contract early, legally you're now able to leave 42-49 days before your contract officially ends without being charged, so you have no excuse not to shop around a little!
Find out if you could be getting a better deal elsewhere by comparing below.
Go for gas and electricity dual fuel tariff
Not all properties have a gas connection, but if you do then it's usually cheaper to combine both your gas and electricity bills under a dual fuel tariff with a single supplier.
The other benefit is you'll save time and hassle by having just one single bill to pay each month and will be dealing with one company rather than two.
Fix your gas and electricity prices
The majority of homes will be on a standard variable tariff, which essentially means that when prices go up, so do their bills.
Going for a fixed tariff can be a good move, as you'll be protected from any price rises as long as the contract lasts – in fact some estimate that this can save you over £150 a year.
Locking into a set price also makes things easier when it comes to budgeting and splitting bills evenly with your housemates, as you know exactly how much you're going to pay.
What's more, some companies (such as EDF) don't have any cancellation fees, even when you lock in to a price.
Go for an online tariff
Applying for or switching to an energy tariff with only online billing (as opposed to a standard tariff with paper billing) could save you around £200 a year.
It also does wonders for keeping your hallway floor 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 when you submit your final meter readings, there might be a difference between the amount of energy used and what you actually paid for. In this case you'll either have to pay more (debit) or ask for the difference to be refunded (credit).
If you notice when you first move in that you're paying more than you should be, don't forget that you'll likely overpay in summer (when you're not using the heating much) and underpay in winter, so it will even itself out across the year.
Check your meters
The chances are your chosen energy supplier will automatically use the previous tenants' usage to estimate how much your own monthly payments will be – they're only legally obliged to read your meter once every two years.
To reduce the risk of paying too much or too little during your contract, it's a good idea to submit your own meter readings every three months or so. Just imagine if you were paying £30 too little a month – that's a prickly £360 bill at the end of a 12-month contract to unexpectedly have on your plate!
The day you move in, take a meter reading and send it to your supplier immediately so you're not picking up the previous tenant's bill. You'll also need to do the same when you eventually move out.
Choose rent with bills included
If you can find accommodation that's inclusive of basic bills (gas, electricity, water and internet) then you could make some great savings (as long as the rent is reasonable, of course!).
One perk to this option is that you don't have to worry about splitting your bills or relying on one housemate to deal with all the utilities. However, the drawback is that you won't have the credit-building benefits that come with being a good bill-payer.
Plus, while some see this as a green light to use as much gas and electricity as they want without any price repercussions, landlords can charge you extra if your bills start to go crazy, so be careful.
Bills included with rent can be quite rare to find nowadays, but you could always try to negotiate 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 the bills between housemates.
If you don't get it right it can cause countless arguments and headaches, so it's best choose a plan of action at the start of year and stick to it.
Here's a few ideas of how it can be done:
• Each pay a set amount of money (say £50) into a designated bank account each month. You can then use this joint pot of money to pay the bills, and anything left over at the end of the year is divided back out evenly. However, one housemate will have to take responsibility for this account, and could be stung if people fail to pay on time, so only do this if everyone in the house trusts each other
• Divide each utility among your housemates – so someone takes charge of the water, someone else the broadband and so on. At the end of the month you tally up how much everyone has paid and who owes what
• Use a bill splitting app like Splitwise or Splittable to do all the hard work for you. They're free to use and will help you keep track of how much everyone has paid to ensure no one is left out of pocket.
For more information on how set up and pay your bills, check out our full guide to student bills.
Best student energy suppliers for 2018
For most student households, EDF Energy are currently our best buy energy supplier. They offer great value on gas and electricity and customer service reviews are very good.
You can use EDF's Blue+Price Protection to fix your tariff at the current rate while ensuring that there are no cancellation fees (which is great for shorter, term-time housing contracts).
EDF also promise that if you find a cheaper supplier they'll let you switch to that supplier without any exit fees!
Energy Helpline (Comparison site)
Until this year, we used to try and rank the other energy suppliers, but ultimately the deals depend on your specific circumstances and location. So now we suggest simply using trusted comparison sites to find the cheapest energy supplier for your area.
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 information on the best deals available on all other utilities – plus tips on how to keep costs down – head over to our student bills page.