Managing Your Student Energy Bills: A Guide

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Managing your student energy bills is an extremely important part of comparing energy prices and managing your student finances. Don’t embrace the stereotype of the impoverished student and stay in control of your student energy bills. Knowing how to split the bills between housemates can prevent you from wasting money on the bare necessities. When your first student loan instalment arrives in your bank account, it may feel as though you’re in great financial shape. But that money needs to last you a whole term. You need to squeeze every penny of that money, even if you juggle a part-time job alongside your studies. This is why we’ve compiled this handy guide to managing your student energy bills.
Last update: June 2022

As you may have heard on the news, the UK energy market is currently under an immense amount of stress as a result of a global gas shortage driving up costs and putting several energy suppliers out of business. To learn more about this and stay updated on a daily basis you can read our page on the UK energy crisis.

What is the average cost of student bills per month?

Before you can make efforts to save money on your student energy bills, it’s useful to first be aware of what other households are spending on their gas and electricity. When you have a good idea of what the average gas and electricity bills prices are, you can work on ways to drive down your bills. The first step, of course, is finding a cheaper energy tariff. Which the team at Papernest are always more than happy to help you with. After all, why pay more for less?

Let’s see how your student energy spending stacks up against the national average.

How much are bills per month in the UK

If you ask your friends and relatives how much they spend on their energy bills, you’ll likely hear very different figures from different people. Some may spend as little as £30-£50 per month on their gas and electricity, while others will spend in excess of £100.

Fortunately, there’s a way in which we can work out the average UK gas and electricity bills.

  • The average UK household’s electricity consumption is around 2,900 kWh per year
  • The average unit cost per kWh is around 14.37p
  • Standing charges can range between 5p and 60p per day. This makes the median average around 30p
  • Multiply 0.1437 by 2,900 to work out the average per kWh spend (£416.73)
  • To work out the average cost of standing chargee, we multiply 0.30 by 365 (£109.50).
  • Add this up and the average electricity bill for households is around £526.23.

We can use this same formula to work out the average gas bill.

  • The average household’s gas consumption is 12,000 kWh per year.
  • The average unit cost per kWh is around 3.80p.
  • Standing charges can range between 10p and 80p 40p is a good median average.
  • First we multiply 0.038 by 12,000 to work out the average annual unit costs. This comes to £456 per year.
  • To this we add the cost of standing charges, multiplying 0.40 by 365 to get £146.
  • This gives us an annual gas spend of £602 per year.

But how much do student bills cost?

Students have less disposable income than the average working household. As such, you’d expect them to get specially discounted energy bills, right?

Afraid not.

In fact, as there are generally more people at home using more energy throughout the day, student household bills can eclipse those of the average family. There are no special energy tariffs for students. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t make massive savings on their energy bills.

Later on we’ll look at some ways in which students can drive down their energy bills, starting with changing their energy tariff regularly.

What is the maximum annual student energy bill?

You may be worried that your energy bills could spiral out of control. But the energy regulator Ofgem keeps a close eye on energy suppliers to make sure that they don’t charge their customers too much. Since 2019, an Energy Price Cap has been in place to limit the amount that energy companies can charge their companies per year. In April 2021, this is set to rise to pre-covid levels of £1,138 per year for both gas and electricity. A rise of £96 from the previous cap of £1,042.

The price cap is reviewed every 6 months (in April and October) to ensure that it is fair to consumers while still allowing energy companies to prosper and compete.

How much money does a college student need per month?

An effective way to take control of your student finances is to work out a rough budget to cover your cost of living. By assigning part of your income (your student loan and wages from any part-time work) to the necessities, you can work out how much you have left over for disposable income.

Based on UK averages, you can see a rough estimate of what a student’s monthly budget should look like in the table below:

Expense Cost per month
Rent £418
Groceries £100
Going out £46
Transport £43
Household bills £37
Takeaways £33
Clothes & shopping £29
Holidays £22
Mobile phone £16
Course materials £16
Health & wellbeing £13
Gifts & charity £12
Misc. spending £10
Overall budget £795

How do students pay bills?

The student life can be a lot of fun. But it can also feel as though you’ve come down to Earth with a thump! Suddenly you’ll have to learn life skills that you’ve never needed to use before. Things that nobody taught you how to deal with. Like setting up utilities in your student house, managing your bills, and sharing the responsibility for your student bills with your housemates.

Sometimes, student landlords handle all the bills on behalf of their tenants, factoring this into their rent. But as convenient as this may be, you’re likely not getting the best value for money with this arrangement. What you’re paying your landlord may be more than the cost of the energy, water and other utilities you use. And even if your landlord is charging you a fair price, they’re not going to be as proactive as you can be in getting you the best prices on your household bills.

Coordinating your own household student bills may take some getting used to. But it can leave you with a much better deal in the long run.

Setting up your student utility bills

One of the biggest pitfalls of managing student energy bills is finding yourself paying for the energy used by your home’s previous occupants. This is why it’s essential to be proactive in setting up your student utility bills in your shared home. And the closer to moving-in day you can do this, the better.

When you (and your housemates) move into a new student house, you’ll be placed on what’s known as a “deemed contract” with whatever supplier the previous occupants used. The plus-side of this is that you’ll probably be on a standard variable-rate tariff so you can switch suppliers and plans at any time. The downside, however, is that you’re almost certainly paying more than you should be on one of these contracts.

Here are some steps to set up energy in your new student home:

  • Take a meter reading as soon as you move in.
  • Contact the incumbent energy supplier to let them know you’ve moved in. Give them your meter reading. This will prevent them from charging you for energy you didn’t use.
  • Find out the name of the tariff you’ll be on under your “deemed contract”
  • Get in touch with the Papernest team to get you a cheaper energy tariff.
  • Let us know the name of your supplier, your current tariff and roughly how much energy you expect to use in a year. We’ll find you a new energy plan that could save hundreds of pounds on your annual energy bills.

Which utilities do you need?

Gas and electricity are two of the essential utilities that you’ll need in your student home. However, they are not the only utilities you’ll need to arrange.

You’ll also need to manage your:

  • Water
  • Broadband / phone
  • TV license (you can opt out of this, but this will prohibit you from being able to access BBC content).

Is there a Student utility bills package?

Suppliers don’t necessarily offer utility packages that are specifically for students. However, there are a number of suppliers that offer utility packages to all kinds of households including student houses.

These include gas and electricity alongside phone, broadband and TV packages. This can give you better overall value for money, as well as making your bills easier to manage.

Companies that offer these package include Utility Warehouse, OVO, and SSE.

Can I get help with student energy costs?

There is no specific government help for students to pay for their energy costs. However, if you’re having trouble making ends meet on your student budget, you may be able to access a hardship fund from your university’s student services department. The University and College hardship fund replaces what used to be called the Access To Learning Fund, and is designed to help students to pay their living costs so that money management doesn’t become detrimental to their studies.

You are more likely to succeed in your application if you are:

  • A student who is a single parent
  • A mature student with pre-existing financial commitments
  • From a low-income family with no access to parental support
  • Living with a disability
  • A student that was previously in care (a ‘care leaver’)
  • Homeless or living in a foyer

How to split bills between housemates

Student life isn’t just about learning. It’s about making friendships that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Your friendships with your housemates will propel you through the challenging and stressful times, and make you look back on your university years with a fond smile.

However, money matters can test even the strongest friendships. As such, you’ll need to pull together to manage your student bills and prevent any of the logistical and financial complications that can arise when bills aren’t well organised.

How should utilities be split?

There are a few ways in which you can split your utilities between yourself and your housemates without tensions arising that could affect your friendship.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to split utility bills between housemates is to nominate one person is to be responsible for the bills and the rest of the housemates set up standing orders to the appointed person’s bank account in order to endure that there is enough in their account to cover the cost. You can do this with all of the bills. Alternatively, each housemate can take responsibility for a single bill, and housemates can set up multiple standing orders to cover the cost of the shared bills. This ensures that no one housemate’s bank account is responsible for all the bills.

However you choose to manage this, it’s essential to establish a set date for bills to be charged to your bank account/s. This way you can ensure that everybody’s standing orders are paid in time to cover the bills without decimating any single flatmate’s disposable income.

Setting up a joint account for student bills

Another way to pay for your student energy bills and other utilities is to set up a shared bank account for the household. Every housemate would have access to this account, and all bills can be charged to it. Housemates set up regular standing orders to the joint account at the start of every month to cover the bills.

This takes a little time to set up, but ensures that no single housemate’s account takes sole responsibility for shared bills.

Living in a shared house vs living alone

Some students prefer living alone to living in a shared house. This may be because they value their solitude, or perhaps because they only want to pay for energy and utilities that they themselves use.

However, this can come at a premium as even a small studio apartment can be significantly more expensive than living in a shared house.

When weighing up the cost of living alone, make sure you factor in all of your student energy bills and utilities rather than just concentrating on paying you rent.

How to save money on student energy bills

The great news is that no matter your living arrangements and how you pay for your student bills, there are a multitude of ways to save money on your student energy bills. It’s easy to assume that you have no control over your bills, and that money is coming out of your account faster than you can make it back.

Fortunately, the Papernest team have some helpful hints for driving down your energy usage and costs.

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8 tips for easy, affordable student bills

Not sure where to start? Here are 8 ideas that can drive down your energy bills and costs while making it easier to manage your bills.

In no particular order…

1. Clamp down on electricity vampires

Devices that are left on standby from the TV and games console to your electric hob can use up to 80% as much energy as they do on standby as they do when in use. Switching these “electricity vampires” off at the wall when not in use can knock around £68 per year off your annual energy bill.

2. Embrace Economy 7

Student living today requires you to be highly reliant on electronic devices. If your student house has an Economy 7 meter (which gives you 7 hours of cheaper energy at night), this can give you opportunities for great energy savings. Charge your laptop, phone, tablet and other devices at night. Energy during this time can cost around 50% less.

If possible, using your dishwasher or washing machine during these hours can help you to save even more money on your bills.

Good news for night owl students!

3. Mind how you pay

Pay your bills by direct debit. Energy companies give their most competitive rates to customers who pay their bills in this way. This is because it makes it easier for them to manage cash flow when they know exactly how much they’re going to get for each customer.

You can make even further savings by opting for paperless billing and / or online-only account management. If energy companies don’t have to pay to print and send paper bills, they can pass those savings on to you.

Locking in your energy rates with a fixed-rate plan will also probably save you money as variable rate tariffs tend to be more expensive. Especially as energy costs are due to rise in 2021.

4. Take regular meter readings

It’s important to be proactive if you want to keep your energy bills down. Take meter readings once a month, and send them to your supplier via their website or online app. It takes just a few minutes, but it can make your bills much cheaper. If you don’t take meter readings regularly, your bills will be based on your estimated usage. This is based on historic usage data for your student home. Which may not necessarily be yours, but that of the students who occupied your home before you.

5. Go easy on the thermostat

Heating accounts for around 40% of the average household’s energy bill. But households can become over-reliant on their heating. Try and reduce your reliance on the thermostat. Wear a jumper or wrap a blanket around yourself if the cold distracts you from your studies. In fact, turning the thermostat down by a single degree can save you around £80 on your annual energy bill.

student energy bills

6. Think about your energy use when you cook

The stereotypical student lives on a diet of fast food, ready-meals and take away pizza. But we know that many students are also keen cooks. And this provides yet more opportunity for savings.

For instance. Keeping your oven door clean can save you money on your energy through the year. Check on your food through this instead of opening the door and you’ll use less heat. Be aware also that not every meal requires you to preheat the oven. When boiling water to cook veggies, it’s usually cheaper to do this in the kettle rather than on the hob.

Speaking of the kettle, you can save energy every time you make a cuppa by only using enough water to fill your cup. Doing this can save enough energy to power your TV for a whole day.

7. Know how much energy you’re using

Students need to be more budget conscious than most. So when you receive an energy bill that’s much higher than you expected, this can be very distressing. But as long as your energy use remains a mystery, you’re vulnerable to unpleasant surprises.

Make sure everyone who shares your house knows roughly how much energy they’re using and how much it costs.

The table below shows roughly how much energy is used by common household devices and appliances:

Appliance / Device Energy Cost Per Use Average Annual Cost To Run
LCD TV 0.21kWh £50.08
Fridge Freezer 0.40kWh £40.80
Tumble Dryer 2.50kWh £37.00
Electric hob 0.71kWh £30.10
Electric oven 1.56kWh £21.08
Dishwasher 1.44kWh £19.44
Kettle 0.11kWh £16.90

Keeping up with this is much easier when you…

8. Install a smart meter

A smart meter saves you the bother of having to check your energy meter and submit readings manually. Your energy usage is transmitted directly to your supplier. This means you need never worry about inaccurate estimated energy bills.

What’s more, your smart meter comes with an In Home Display, so you can track the impact of energy saving measures you make around the home in real-time.

How else can you cut your student utility bills?

Tracking and reducing your energy consumption are critical when it comes to keeping your student energy bills manageable. But never underestimate the importance of choosing the right energy tariff. Switching tariffs every 12 months or so can save the average household around £300 every year. And that’s as true of student households as any other.

The Papernest team can find the perfect energy bill for your student house based on your location, needs and energy use. We’ll even manage your switch for you, to get you cheaper energy within 15 days.

So you can save money hassle-free.

Call us today on 0330 818 6225 to find out how much we can help you save.

We’re available from 8am to 6pm.

Would you like to know more about comparing energy prices? Great! Check out these related articles

  1. Electricity prices
  2. Gas prices
  3. kWh cost uk
  4. Standing charges

Call us to switch your energy supplier for free!

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How much do student bills cost per month in the UK?

The average student spends between £72.08 and £181.70 per month on their combined bills. The more students occupy a home, the lower the figure.

Which energy suppliers do a student discount?

No energy suppliers offer a student discount. However, there are many suppliers that can give you a better deal than you’re currently getting on your energy. Especially if you’re on a variable-rate tariff with your current supplier.

The Papernest team can help you find the cheapest energy plan for your needs.

What are student utility bills on average?

That’s a tricky one to answer because no supplier offers specific rates fo student properties. However, the average household’s energy bills are around £526.23 on electricity and £602 on gas.

Why is it important to take meter readings in a student house

If you don’t take regulate meter readings (or request that your supplier install a smart meter), your supplier may base your bill on historic energy usage data for your home. This may be based on the students who lived in your home before you rather than the energy you use.

Taking and reporting regular meter readings takes just a few minutes and can keep your student energy bills fair and accurate.

Updated on 15 Jun, 2022

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