Around this time of year, a lot of students start looking for houses to move into with friends or course mates in the following year, so I’ve written this to help with the issue of bills!
In my first year at University, bills were included in my accommodation rent (and before I moved away to Uni, my parents paid the house bills) so moving into a self-rented house without the bills included was something I had never experienced before. How much should water cost per month? Do you have to pay for both water and sewage?
After some research, I found there wasn’t much help for sorting out bills, apart from a few companies that would charge you hundreds of pounds to do it for you. Don’t let them! You can do it!
Here are some key notes to help you when you orgainse your house bills:
Water – will be available from one local company only – all you can do is give them a call and ask to change the names on the bill. Prices are based on a water meter reading.
Sewage – sometimes it will come from a different water company than the one you pay for water. Prices are based on your water meter readings. It does cost more than water! (This surprised me!)
Electricity and Gas – loads of companies offer electricity and gas. You don’t have to get them from the same supplier i.e. you can get Gas from one and Electricity from another. but some companies offer discounts if you have a ‘duel fuel’ account.
Before you move into your new house/flat, find out which supplier the previous tenants were with. Usually the estate agent or landlord will be able to tell you.
Then give them a call. Ask for the last years fuel usage (in Kwh) and then you can shop around. If you find a cheaper deal else where, check your letting agreement, but most landlords will be happy for you to switch. (NB: it can take a month or more to change supplier)
I shopped around and saved nearly £500 for the year on electricity and gas! Most companies will overcharge students because they know you won’t be bothered to change.
You will spend more on gas between December and February because it’s cold in the UK! Don’t worry about the huge bills because from March time onwards you hopefully won’t need the heating on at all!
Direct Debit – some companies will give you discounts for paying in this way. You’ll need some sort of online bank account to do this though.
Broadband – important for students! Beware of the deals that offer 6 months free because you might have to sign an 18 month contract! Virgin Media offers 9 month contracts – useful if you don’t need broadband over the summer holidays. There are loads of different deals and options for speed. Usually for a house of 4 – 30mb should be ample.
Beware of ‘line rental’ charges. Most companies will NOT add these onto your package cost until the last minute – so if you go with BT or Sky, beware of the extra £10+ a month ontop!
Standing Charges - most bills (excl broadband) will include a daily standing charge which means you’ll be charged an amount per day ontop of your usage.
For example – for 1 week, you could be charged £5 for using 10KW of electricity + 10p for every day so the total for that week would be £5.70. (£5 + 10p x 7 days = £5.70)
Approximate costs (per month) for a house of 4:
Gas: £65 (gas will go up & down depending on the time of year – eg in Winter you’ll use lots of gas for heating)
Total per person per month: £47.50
Total per person per week: £12
Here are my top tips for organising your own University bills…
1. Before moving into your new house, find out who the previous tenants’ suppliers were. Normally the landlord or estate agent will know. Give the supplier a call and find out how much your bills will be per month. Find out the KWh used for the last year’s tenants.
2. Call up the water company and change the bills into your housemates names.
3. ALWAYS read any contracts you are given. Don’t sign up for anything without reading something first. Last thing you want to do is sign up for a 2 year contract when you’re only going to be living at the house/flat for 1 year!
4. Nothing in life is ever FREE. When broadband companies offer you 6 months free, you usually have to pay £10+ a month line rental and also sign up for an 18 month+ contract.
5. Set up a separate house bank savings account under your name or one of your house members names. Get everyone to pay into this account and then you can transfer money to companies to pay bills. Most banks won’t let you set up a whole new bank account but you can set up a separate e-savers account alongside your student account.
6. There are 2 ways to get housemates to pay the bills, either:
a) everyone pays £12 a week/£50 a month along with the house rent, into a bank account and at the end of the university year (or half a year), split the remain money.
b) when a bill is charged, ask everyone to pay their split of the bill. eg when the water company charges you £20 for the month, everyone then has to pay their part.
I personally prefer option (a) as it’s a lot easier to organise but it depends on what your housemates think as they have to pay for things up-front.
If you have any questions, feel free to use the contact form – link at the top. I’ll try to reply but don’t hold me to it!