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Student Accommodation

Compare cheapest energy providers 2022

Let's be honest: you've got better things to do than spend hours setting up energy bills. With this guide, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and hassle.

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Ironically, comparing and choosing the best gas and electricity provider and tariff can be energy-sapping. Do you go for fixed or variable prices? Dual or separate tariffs? What about exit fees?

Fortunately, once you've found the right deal, signing up to an energy supplier is actually very straightforward.

After reviewing the best energy providers, we'll share our eight practical tips on saving big money on gas and electric bills.

Energy market crisis 2022

Energy prices are currently at an all-time high, rising by as much as 50% for many. This is due to Ofgem raising the energy price cap.

Most energy providers aren't taking on new customers. And it's unlikely you'll be able to find a cheaper supplier at this time. Our advice is to stay with the current supplier of your property.

Utility Warehouse may be an exception for some and are below the price cap.

There is some support for higher energy bills:

  • From April 2022, households in council tax bands A–D received a £150 council tax rebate.
  • The Energy Bills Support Scheme will give £400 discounts on energy bills to all UK households. This will be credited to your energy account over six months from October 2022. To find out more, including what happens if bills are included in your rent, head to our guide on how to cope with the cost of living crisis.
  • For other government-funded grants enter your postcode here and see what's available.
  • See our guide on how to save money on your energy bills.
  • Subscribe to our email list for updates on new energy deals.

Best energy suppliers 2022

Here are the best places to find cheap gas and electricity for your home:

  1. Utility Warehouse

    utility warehouse

    Even though most suppliers are currently charging the price cap (which will increase again later this year), there is one exception.

    Utility Warehouse's energy prices are actually below the price cap. However, you may have to take out another service with them too. This could be broadband, mobile or insurance.

    It's worth getting a quote and comparing it to your current tariff.

    Get a Utility Warehouse quote »

     

  2. Octopus Energy (renewable + £50 bonus)

    Currently not accepting new customers.

    octopus energy logo

    Sign up today using this special link.

    Octopus Energy is quickly gaining loyal customers for providing 100% renewable electricity and being refreshingly transparent.

    They offer both fixed and variable tariffs, and their transparent pricing is typically more competitive than the 'Big Six' energy suppliers for most households.

    If you decide to switch again in the future, Octopus won't charge you any exit fees.

    Get an Octopus Energy quote »

     

  3. MoneySuperMarket

    moneysupermarket logo

    We have in the past tried to rank and compare all the other main energy providers. But, ultimately, energy deals depend on your specific circumstances and location.

    So now we suggest using trusted comparison sites to find the cheapest energy supplier for your area.

    MoneySuperMarket is our favourite when it comes to comparing energy suppliers.

    They are a well-established and comprehensive comparison website for comparing gas and electricity tariffs. The simple online process can be completed in minutes.

    Compare with MoneySuperMarket »

     

8 ways to save money on gas and electricity bills

Make sure you do these things to save money on your energy bills:

  1. Don't pay for the previous tenants' energy

    On the day you get your keys, take photos of all the meter readings in the house and submit them to the current energy supplier, making it clear you've just moved in.

    If you don't, there's a good chance you'll receive a bill for the energy that was used before your tenancy started.

    The next priority is to switch to a cheaper tariff or supplier (keep reading for more about this).

  2. Fix your gas and electricity prices

    The majority of homes will be on a standard variable tariff. This essentially means that when wholesale energy prices go up, so do their bills.

    However, choosing a fixed tariff locks you into a single price for a set period of time (typically a year or more). In theory, this protects you from any further increases in the energy price cap. In theory.

    At the moment, all fixed-rate energy tariffs are substantially more expensive than the current price cap (usually 30% more, at least). So, you may be wondering, "why would I voluntarily pay more than the energy price cap?"

    But remember: the price cap is expected to rise by at least a further 40% in October. This means you could end up saving money in the long term, despite spending more in the short term.

    This is because your rate is fixed and won't rise with the October price cap. As long as you agreed to a low enough rate beforehand, it could justify spending over the odds for a few months beforehand.

    Sadly, though, it's not as simple as it sounds. For starters, although the experts have a decent idea, nobody actually knows what the October price cap will be until it's officially announced. What's more, there are very few fixed tariffs that are cheap enough to be worth it in the long term.

    In short, although signing up for a fixed tariff is a calculated risk, it's still a risk. As a general rule, we wouldn't recommend it. But if you've been offered what you think is a good deal, run the numbers for yourself and see if it works for you.

  3. Choose a dual fuel tariff for gas and electricity

    Not all properties have a gas connection. But, if yours does, it's usually cheaper to combine both your gas and electricity bills with a single supplier under a dual fuel tariff.

    As well as being a good money-saving technique, another benefit is that you'll save time and hassle by having just one single bill to pay each month. And, if you have any issues with your gas and electricity, you'll only need to deal with one company rather than two.

  4. Opt for paperless billing

    Applying for an energy tariff with online-only billing (as opposed to paper billing) could save you a fair amount of money each year. It also does wonders for keeping your hallway floor tidy...

    All of your bills will appear on your online account, where you can also arrange for monthly payments to go out of your account automatically. Easy.

    Have a look at our tips on how to split bills with your housemates.

  5. Pay by Direct Debit

    Paying your bills by Direct Debit could save you a further 10% with some suppliers.

    It's worth noting 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 should even itself out across the year.

    As the payments are automatic, Direct Debit makes it so much easier to keep paying your bills, even when you're not in your uni house. So, if you're lucky enough to be going away on holiday, whether to chill in the sun or ski in the snow, bills will be the last thing on your mind.

  6. Check your energy 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 – especially as 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, submit your own meter readings every three months or so.

    Just imagine if you were underpaying by £30 a month. At the end of a 12-month contract, that's a horrific £360 bill to unexpectedly have on your plate. We explain how to take meter readings below.

    By 2025, the government plans to roll out smart meters as the standard across the country. These will automatically send meter readings to your energy supplier, and you'll be able to keep track of how much energy you're using through an In-Home Display.

    Installation is free. Just contact your energy supplier for more information on how to get one now.

  7. Consider paying rent with bills included

    If you can find accommodation where the rent includes basic bills (i.e. gas, electricity, water and internet) then you might be able to get a good deal... as long as the rent's 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.

    And although it saves you the hassle of organising bills, it might not be the cheapest option.

    Your landlord will probably overestimate how much energy you'll use (they don't want to lose money after all), so you might end up paying more than you need to.

    It's also possible that your landlord can charge you extra if you use too much energy. Make sure you check your contract and weigh up the pros and cons before you commit.

Looking for more tips? See the best ways to save on energy.

How to take meter readings

Unsure how to take a meter reading? Here are the key things you need to know:

Electricity meters

person taking reading of electricity meter

Credit: Proxima Studio – Shutterstock

If you have a smart meter, you don't need to worry about readings as your electricity usage will automatically be sent to your provider (more info on this below). But, if you have any of these three types of meter, you'll need to take readings: digital, electronic and dial meters.

Digital electricity meter

Digital meters are essentially just a line of numbers that you read from left to right.

Some numbers might be red (or surrounded in red) – ignore these.

Electronic electricity meter

Electronic meters work in pretty much the exact same way as digital ones, except the numbers are displayed slightly differently and you might have to press a button to make them appear.

Again, read them from left to right and ignore those surrounded by red.

Dial electricity meter

If you have one of these meters, you'll see a number of dials in a row. Each of these dials runs from 0 to 9, with each dial turning in the opposite direction to the one before.

Read them from left to right, noting down the number the pointer is directed towards.

If the pointer lies between two numbers, choose the lowest number. If it lies between nine and zero, note down nine and deduct a number from the dial to the left.

Ignore the very last dial on the right.

Cutting the cost of your energy bills is just one way to save money on your accommodation. Check out these ways to save money on renting.

Gas meters

Remember, not all houses have a gas supply, so you might not need to worry about a gas meter at all. If you do have one, it will either be a dial or a digital meter.

Dial gas meter

Just like with dial electricity meters, there will be a series of dials running from one to nine. You have to read these from left to right.

Again, if the pointer falls between two numbers, choose the lowest one. And if it falls between nine and zero, write down nine.

Just make sure to ignore any red dials, any dials marked as 100 per rev, and the largest dial.

Digital gas meters

Read the numbers from left to right, ignoring any that are in red or after the decimal point.

What are smart meters?

Smart meter on kitchen table by mug

Credit: photographyfirm – Shutterstock

Smart meters are a new type of energy meter that the government plans to roll out as the standard across the country by 2025.

These are much easier to read than normal meters and make consumers more aware of how much energy they're using and how to reduce this.

They're installed by your energy supplier. They'll contact you to ask if you'd like one installed, and to arrange a time for this to happen (at no extra cost to you).

Here's a list of the main functions and benefits of smart meters:

  • You can see how much energy you're using through an In-Home Display
  • The meter communicates your energy use directly to your supplier – there's no need to send them your own meter readings
  • You see real-time energy usage, displayed in pounds and pence
  • They bring an end to estimated billing – you're only ever billed for the energy you actually use
  • They make the process of switching suppliers much quicker and easier
  • You won't be charged to have a smart meter or in-home display installed.

They work in both prepayment and credit modes.

If you do opt for prepayment mode, you'll have more flexibility on how you top up (you won't have to head to the local shop). You'll also be able to view your balance on the In-Home Display and you can set it to top up automatically so you don't run out of electricity at an awkward time.

There's no legal obligation to have one installed, but if you do get offered one, they're a great way to save money on your energy bills. They give you a much better idea of how much energy you're using.

As part of the installation process, you'll be given advice on how to improve your energy efficiency, so you'll be saving cash and the environment.

When moving into a new place, have a look at the best ways to save on your internet as well as electricity and gas. Here are the best student broadband deals of 2022.

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