Cheaper gas and electricity advice for students

A group of four university students move into their shared flat , and start to unpack boxes. One male student is looking through his boxes in the foreground

Worried about your gas and electricity bills as a student? We’ve got you covered with a crash course on all things energy. 

Moving into a new student accommodation far away from home can be a bit scary. The last thing you want to worry about as a student would be your bills, on top of your coursework and social life. 

That’s why we’re here to give you some tips on the best student gas and electricity deals. These should be on the top of your university or college to-do list. You don’t want to be stepping over your student budget and rather focus on your education. 

No longer a student? Learn how to find the best gas and electricity dealsYou can also have a look at our cheapest broadband deals for an affordable internet connection at home. 

What is student gas and electricity?

Student gas and electric is simply gas and electricity that you’re paying for when you go to university. 

For most students, this will be their first time away from home and the first time they’ve had to think about things like setting up an electricity and gas supplier

It’s not an easy choice to make either. There are around 25 energy providers to choose from in the UK, each with a range of tariffs.

Some of these big names include British Gas, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy, EDF Energy, E.on Next, and Scottish Power. However, they are not the only ones, so you have many cheap gas and electricity deals to choose from. 

Gas and electricity terms explained

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to find the best student gas and electricity deals. You will come across a lot of terms that may sound confusing. Here are some of the most common ones that you may have heard already, or won’t stop hearing about pretty soon. 

  • Dual fuel: a plan that combines your electricity and gas supply.
  • Economy 7: an energy plan that sees you charged 2 different rates for your usage – a more expensive one for day use, and a cheaper one for night use.
  • Fixed tariff: A deal where your unit price for energy doesn’t change till your plan expires.
  • kW: A kilowatt is the unit of electricity which is a measure of how much power an electric appliance uses. It is exactly 1000 watts. 
  • kWh: A kilowatt hour is a measure of how much energy you are using per hour. This can help tell you how expensive an appliance is. 
  • Prepayment meter: A type of energy meter where you pay for your energy before using it. 
  • Tariffs: The plan that details how much you will pay for your gas or electricity. 
  • Variable rate: This means that your energy price can change during your plan.
NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: A British Gas smart energy meter displaying the current energy usage of gas and electricity in a home on November 21, 2022 in Newcastle Under Lyme, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

How much should you be spending?

When you go away to university, there’s no end to the things you have to worry about spending money on. You have to pay for university fees, accommodation, food and drink to keep you going, and then there’s the never-ending utilities. 

Once everything adds up, it can be quite a hefty amount. Especially with energy prices soaring this January. However, according to the 2023 Student Accommodation Survey, this is how much the average student spends per month:

  • Electricity and gas: £85
  • In total, an average student spends £1,078 per month (£154 more than 2022).

When you’re having to get by on the bare minimum of the student budget, saving every penny becomes essential. 

So what do you do to save more? Read ahead to find out.

Find out who is your electricity and gas supplier

Find out who’s supplying your gas and electricity. This will be pretty simple if the previous tenants left a bill behind, or the landlord can let you know. However, sometimes you may have to find out for yourself. 

  • To find out who your electricity supplier is – Visit Energy Networks Association and use the postcode tool to track down the right name.
  • To find out who your gas supplier is – Visit Find My Supplier, enter your postcode, or call the Meter Point Administration on 0870 608 1524. They should confirm who your electricity supplier is and issue you a 21-digit number. You need this number when contacting your supplier about your energy bill. 

Once you know who your supplier is you can do two things:

  1. Contact them: Let them know you’ve taken over the account. Give them a meter reading from the day you move in, to make sure you’re not being billed for more than you should be. Learn how to do an energy meter reading. 
  2. Check your tariff: Ask them which tariff you’ve been placed on. And see if you could save by switching to a cheaper tariff.

Your energy rights when renting

Put simply, if you’re the account holder and you pay the energy bills, then you have every right to switch to the best gas tariff or electric tariff. 

According to industry watchdog Ofgem, your landlords can’t be unreasonable about letting you switch, no matter what it says in the tenancy agreement.

However, if they pay the energy bills out of the rent you give them, then they get to choose the supplier.

How do I manage electricity and gas bills in a shared accommodation?

There are two areas that every student accommodation should agree on and stick to. They are: paying rent on time, along with the electricity and gas bills. Here’s what we think is the best way to manage your bills:

1. Assign utilities to each housemate

Each housemate should share responsibility for overall household bills. For example, you could take on gas and electricity, while someone else looks after broadband. 

Once everyone has a utility they look after, you can split the bills by the number of people living in the house. An easy way of doing this is by keeping a spreadsheet of all the expenses. 

2. Bill Splitting

Bill splitting is the easiest thing to do when you are sharing a house with other students. This gives everyone a responsibility to set up a plan, send reminders and collect payments on time.

You don’t have to do it manually either. You can download a bill-splitting app like Splitwise or splitoo

However, this can also get messy so the best advice is to choose your housemates wisely. You should also do everything you can to keep your electricity and gas bills as low as possible.

3. Joint bank account

This method should only be used with your best mates or people you can trust to pay on time. 

Setting up a joint bank account can work well if you’re sharing bills. All the money for bills goes into the account each month, and you can pay from there. This saves the hassle of repaying each other or forgetting to do so. 

However, a huge risk of this method is if someone fails to make their contribution on time. This could affect the credit rating of all the people who are on the account. 

How do I save on gas and electricity bills?

Group of friends preparing dinner together in the kitchen

With the rising cost of living and inflation, your bills are still not going to be the most student-friendly. However, taking control of your expenses can definitely go a long way for you. Here are some things you can do to save each pound and pence:

  • Layer up: If it’s not sweater weather yet, wearing a cosy jumper instead of switching on the heating is more sustainable. 
  • Cost-effective heating: Find out the cheapest way of heating, if you should do timed bursts or consider getting an electric radiator
  • Coordinate cooking: If you live with friends, try to coordinate your cooking times. This way, the hob and oven are used at once instead of multiple times throughout the day. Make sure to use those supermarket loyalty cards to pay less and shop more.
  • Lights out: Turn off the lights if you’re not using them or when you leave a room. You could also replace the lights in your home (if your landlord allows it) with LED bulbs to save more energy. 
  • Fill up your appliances: It’s better to use washing machines, dryers or dishwashers when they’re full. Use our appliance calculator to check how much each energy-hungry appliance adds to your bills
  • Keep an eye out for drying: Find out if a heated airer, tumble dryer or dehumidifier is the best way to dry your clothes indoors.
  • Boil only the water you need: You could save up to £12 a year if you boil only the water you need for your cuppas in your kettle.  

See loads more tips on how to use less gas and electricity.