Taking on the responsibility of moving into your own house and having to pay rent and bills is quite the challenge for many students. A huge portion of student budget goes towards paying for energy, broadband and other household utilities. The majority of student households, however, take it as a given that they are obliged to pay the prices for bills that come with the house. There is not one single price for your energy bills, nor for your broadband. You are legally entitled to switch you energy and broadband provider, regardless of your landlord’s permission. So, what does this all mean and how do you switch? Read this guide and you’ll soon be completely clued up.
When you move in
Upon entering your new house or apartment, it is important to get things switched over as soon as possible to ensure that you aren’t overpaying on any of your bills. If you have a decent landlord, you may find that they have already switched you over onto a cheap fixed energy and/or broadband deal; however, chances are that you’ve been put on the most expensive tariff your provider has to offer by default.
As such, it is important to find out what deals you are currently on and start thinking about which deals you can replace them with.
To find out who supplies your gas and electricity, you can ask your landlord, as they are most likely to have the relevant information. However, if they do not, there are two numbers that you can call to quickly find out. To find out who supplies your electricity, you need to call the ‘Distribution Network Operator’ (DNO) for your region. To find out who supplies your gas, you need to call your ‘Gas Distributor’.
Find your DNO & Gas Distributor
The majority of landlords will allow you to set up your own broadband deal for the year. With the majority of broadband companies taking advantage of the student living situation, there’s a variety of offers on the market that are targeted entirely towards student houses. If, however, your landlord already has you on an internet deal when you arrive, you can find out which company that is by asking directly to your landlord (if they know) or using whoismyip.org .
Gas & electricity
Once you have found out who supplies you currently, you can head over to a comparison tool like Selectra or USwitch. These will ask you for your personal information (just one person for now), postcode, current tariff and perhaps a couple of other basic questions. Once you have done this, you will be able to see the many offers that are available to you in order of price, cheapest at the top.
Now, before you jump in and choose the very cheapest and forget about it. You need to remember that a lot of these have fixed contract terms, usually one or two years. Obviously, the majority of students only stay in there houses for 12 months, so a two or three year contract isn’t going to be much use to you, or is it?
If you see a contract that has a rather large contract term that extends past your tenancy, you should make sure that you have agreed with your landlord that you are ok to proceed, as once you have left, you need to make sure that you are not at all responsible any subsequent bills. If you are ok to proceed then you can choose any tariff that you wish, most likely the cheapest. However, if you do not have the permission, you will have to make sure that you choose a contract that coincides with the termination of your tenancy.
Just like your energy bills, you will have to make sure that your new contract coincides with your tenancy, as if, like your energy bills, you cancel early, you will likely be subject to a termination fee that can be upwards of £60.
The three most popular broadband providers in the 2016/17 academic year were Sky, BT and Virgin Media, all of which providing value for money in relation to standard providers. One of the main benefits of using a student-focused tariff, is that depending on how long you are staying in your house for, you can vary your contract term to suit your requirements.
In order to actually switch your broadband, you can use any of the standard comparison engines such as Go Compare and Money Supermarket or you can go directly to the company websites and seek out the student deals. You will probably find yourself pestered on campus by student ambassadors, but don’t be so quick to disregard their offers, you may find them to be pretty cheap when you get an idea of how much things cost.