Here are some pointers from the Advice Centre on how to make sure you are paying the right amount, and maybe even save money.
It is very likely that you will have to pay separately for all the energy which you use throughout your tenancy period. However in some circumstances, such as private and University halls, the cost of energy is included in your monthly rent. If you’re unsure if the cost of your energy bills are included in your monthly rent payments, check your tenancy agreement or speak to your landlord.
Assuming that you do have to pay your fuel bills separately, here are some suggestions on how to make sure you are paying the correct amount and maybe even save money:
1. Take meter readings
Make sure you know where your gas and/or electricity meters are and take accurate readings when you first move in to your new place. Keep a record of these, and contact the existing energy supplier as soon as possible to provide them with the new readings (your landlord or letting agent should tell you who the energy supplier is). That way you’ll know you’re not being billed for the previous tenants’ usage, especially if there were any unsettled bills when they moved out.
For more information on the different kinds of meters and how to take accurate readings, please see these easy ‘Which’ guides for gas meters and electricity meters.
You can then keep an eye on the amount of energy which you use by taking regular readings. You will probably find that your bills will be higher during the cold, winter months, so make sure you budget for this.
2. Consider switching supplier
Check to make sure that you are not prohibited by your tenancy agreement from switching suppliers. If you don’t have to stick with the previous energy supplier, you may find you can save money by switching to a different provider or a cheaper tariff rating.
If you have a prepayment meter and would like to change this to a standard meter, you will have to check first that this is okay with your landlord. In addition, the energy supplier may require a deposit from you if you are changing to a standard meter and have not had an account with them before. Make sure you ask about this as the cost of a deposit varies.
To find out if you can save any money on your bills, try price comparison websites such as USwitch, Compare the Market, GoCompare, or MoneySupermarket.
Also, please see the MoneySavingExpert site for more information on how to get cheaper tariffs.
3. Keep an eye on other bills too
You may also be asked to pay your share of other bills including internet packages or a landline. Read the terms and conditions of your contract with the prospective provider carefully before agreeing to it, and monitor any bills and usage figures you get throughout the contract period. If you think you can get a better deal elsewhere, check to see if you are allowed to switch to a different provider.
4. Split the cost fairly
For more information on dealing with utilities bills, including how to ensure that all flatmates are named on the bill to help share the costs fairly among your flatmates. Please see our Consumer Debt and Arrears page.
5. Stay warm, stay well
And for tips on keeping warm in this lovely Scottish winter of ours, have a look at our ‘Warm, Healthy & Affordable‘ blog post from Welfare Week 2014.