If you’re living in private rented accommodation this year, you may well find yourself paying for gas, electricity and water bills for the first time. This can eat into your finances, so here are some tips to keep your costs down:
- Landlords are only legally allowed to rent out buildings which achieve at least an ‘E’ rating Energy Performance Certificate (A being most efficient, G being least efficient). Ask your landlord for a copy of the EPC to check they are complying.
- Switch off! The easiest and most obvious way to save energy is by not leaving stuff on you aren’t using – whether that’s lights, TV, computers or chargers – it’s the simplest way of saving money. And nag your housemates to do the same!
- Control your heating! Turning your heating down 1˚C can save 8% on your energy usage. Understand how your heating is controlled and agree with your housemates when the heating needs to run. It is usually cheaper to turn the heating off than leaving it running on low (but if you’re away for a while in cold weather, it’s recommended to have it running on low to ensure your pipes don’t freeze!)
- Make sure your hot water is set at 60˚C – this should not be set any lower due to health/hygiene reasons, but higher temperatures will waste energy.
- Check if you can control your hot water separately – and if you can, set it for a few hours each morning and evening. A good guide is 30 mins per person in the morning and again in the evening (but this will depend on our system and might take a bit of trial and error!)
- Check your light bulbs are LED – which are usually much more efficient than other alternatives – and 5W – 6W bulbs usually give plenty of light.
- Cook together, and then wash up together!
- Only boil the water you need. Kettles are very energy hungry and boiling too much water unnecessary can waste a lot of energy.
- Use your washing machine efficiently – avoid half loads, wash at 30˚C and dry your clothes naturally if possible!
- Check how much insulation is in your loft and speak to your landlord if it is lacking. 27cm of insulation is the recommended standard for houses.
Showers are often thought to save water compared to baths, but that really depends on how long you run them and whether they are power showers.
- Shower for no more than 5 minutes – use a timer!!
- Don’t leave taps running unnecessarily, for example when brushing your teeth
- Don’t run your washing machine until you have a full load
- Wash up together
Maximising your contract
Utility bills seem designed to confuse! Here’s a few tips to keep costs in check:
- Take a meter reading the day you move in and the day you move out (with photos!) – otherwise you may end up paying someone else’s bills!
- Suppliers often estimate your readings. Take a reading every time you get a bill and submit it to your supplier, so you only pay for what you’ve actually used.
- Suppliers are keen to install ‘smart meters’ which allow them to read meters remotely. This is usually free, but it is recommended you speak to your landlord before doing this.
- Shop around – some suppliers charge more than others (try a comparison website such as U Switch) – but be careful to check if there is a minimum length of contract. Suppliers often offer discounts for paying by direct debit and for ‘dual fuel’ supplies covering electricity and gas together.
- Consider paying a fixed monthly amount and create a monthly kitty for your household. Consider using a bill splitting app!
These are just a few ideas to help keep your costs down, and of course, saving energy will also help to reduce your carbon footprint and do your bit towards saving the planet!