Don’t spend hours researching the cheapest student energy providers. Find them right here.
Dreading the thought of trying to find the cheapest student energy providers in the UK? Prices are rising, and energy usage in the average household is unpredictable. In fact, The average electricity usage in the UK is around 2,900kWh (correct as of March 2021). We can only expect this to get lower as prices increase.
Fortunately, we’re here to give you the low-down on the best energy companies to consider when setting up your student house utilities.
Perhaps you’ve read up on the best broadband deals and want to save extra on other utilities. If so, read on to find out the best energy providers, the differences between fixed and variable rates. Plus, we’ve got you covered on ways to save money on your gas and electricity bills to stretch your student budget even further.
- Best energy suppliers 2022
- Best ways to save money on gas and electricity bills
- What’s a fixed rate energy tariff?
- What’s a variable energy tariff?
- Fixed or variable tariff?
Best energy suppliers 2022
Energy supplier costs are quite volatile, considering the cost of living situation at the time of writing. We recommend using comparison sites to compare fixed and variable rates.
If you’re looking for the cheapest student energy providers, here are the best places to find energy providers in the UK at cheaper rates, including gas and electric comparisons:
1. Utility Warehouse
Utility Warehouse is a great place to find and compare energy prices, and other services too such as broadband, insurance and more.
Most suppliers are currently charging the current price cap, which is expected to rise soon. However, Utility Warehouse tariffs are generally below the cap, so it’s worth checking them out to see if you can get a good energy deal.
2. Octopus Energy
Although we wanted to refrain from mentioning specific suppliers due to ever-changing rates, we had to give praise to Octopus Energy, as they provide 100% renewable energy supply.
According to Expert Reviews, data from the first quarter of 2021 saw that Octopus won awards for Best Customer Support, with 92% saying they were either Satisfied or Very Satisfied. Similarly, 91% of customers were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the value for money their tariff represented, although it now offers some of the most expensive fixed deals of the providers featured here, while a total of 94% were satisfied with how easy their bills were to understand and 96% with how accurate they were.
Octopus energy tariffs offer fixed and variable rates for you to choose from, and they’re quite competitive compared to the bigger names like British Gas. Plus, if you decide to switch from Octopus at any point, they won’t charge any exit fees (correct as of 22/09/2022).
A go-to destination for energy comparison. MoneySuperMarket is one of the most trusted sites to compare all kinds of providers, such as energy, phone deals, car insurance and much more. They take your location and circumstances into account to offer the cheapest (and most relevant) deals. Plus, the process is incredibly fast, and you can get comparing your energy rates within minutes.
USwitch is perfect for those looking to switch energy suppliers for a better deal. They take a small commission from the companies you switch to, but they also sort out the switch for you which takes all the hassle out of manual switching.
Just be sure to check the T&Cs of your current energy provider before carrying out a switch. Besides gas and electric comparison, you can also use USwitch to compare networks, insurance, broadband and more.
Best ways to save money on gas and electricity bills
Make sure you don’t pay for the old tenant’s energy
When you move into a new student home (or any home, for that matter), you should take photos of everything, including your meter readings.
When you submit your meter readings to your new provider, make it evident you’ve just moved in. Otherwise, you could get a letter with a bill (which should really be for the previous tenant).
Plus, the provider the previous household was with might not be one of the cheapest student energy providers out there, so it’s worth comparing to see if you can get a better deal.
Fix your gas and electricity prices
When you sign up with an energy provider, you’re typically given a variable tariff. This means when wholesale prices go up, so do your energy bills. Obviously, we want to avoid this to keep costs low.
By choosing a fixed tariff, you can lock yourself into a single price to pay for a set time period, usually around a year.
However, given the rise in energy costs of late, fixed tariffs are going to be a lot more expensive. Naturally, this might make you want to avoid choosing a fixed tariff. If you take into account that the energy price cap is expected to rise again, you could save more money if you enrolled in a fixed tariff at a lower rate sooner rather than later. Obviously, be sure to compare your rates properly before making a decision.
Unfortunately, experts have no idea what the new rates will be until October 2022 rolls around. Signing up for a fixed rate may be a calculated risk as opposed to a rational one, though. Again, compare the rates and see what works for you.
Choose a dual fuel tariff for gas and electricity
If your uni house also has a gas connection, combine your gas and electricity tariff for a cheaper rate. Run the numbers beforehand, but usually, this does work out a lot cheaper in the long run. Plus, you’ll save yourself time by having just one bill for both utilities come out every month too.
Get paperless billing
Paperless billing as a whole can keep your doorway tidy. But on a serious and money-related note, opting for paperless billing can actually shave off some pennies per month. Your statements will be available on your chosen utility provider’s online account to download if you ever need it.
Pay your bills via Direct Debit
Opting for a direct debit can help save money on your energy bills with some suppliers.
Just be sure to check what your final bill is before you move out, because you may owe (debit) or be owed money (credit) upon submitting your final meter reading. Obviously, a gas and electric rebate by the end of your term is desirable!
Plus, it means paying for energy is a load off your mind because you’ll have it automated instead. Meaning you can focus on what matters most, having a good time at uni!
Check your energy meters regularly
Some people choose to pay a monthly amount without submitting a meter reading. But imagine if you found out you’ve been paying less than what you’re actually using? That’s gonna land you a huge bill on your lap by the end of the year.
We recommend checking every month, or what the energy provider recommends, to ensure you’re on top of your energy usage and hence your payments.
According to Ofgem, all households should have a smart meter installed, and the roll-out is currently in progress (as of earlier this year in January 2022).
If you can, pay rent with bills included
Student houses sometimes offer the option to pay with bills included. While this may be a bit more each month than just rent-only, it could be a load off your mind. Just make sure it’s actually a good deal.
Another advantage to this, is you won’t have to worry about splitting your household bills with your housemates as you’ll just have to worry about your own monthly payment. If you want to build credit, though, then having energy bills in your name can help with this.
If you do decide to opt for bills-included, be wary of landlords who inflate the price of your monthly payment astronomically. It’s possible, and it does happen. Do the maths and see what’s worth it. If your household is reasonable with usage, then you may be better off paying bills separately.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme
The energy bills support scheme, a scheme by the government, is offering households £400 to offset the cost of their energy bills. You don’t have to do anything to claim and this will automatically go to your provider.
The discount will be applied to your monthly household electricity bill for 6 months starting in October 2022. You’ll get:
- £66 in October and November
- £67 in December, January, February and March.
You’ll get the discount monthly, even if you pay for your energy quarterly or use a payment card.
There’s no knowing what other schemes the government will offer, especially if we go into a recession, but at the time of writing, the energy bills support scheme is designed to help many get through the winter months.
What’s a fixed rate energy tariff?
A fixed tariff, also known as a “fixed price” energy tariff, is a fixed unit price you pay for your gas, electricity or both. The price will not change for as long as you’re on your energy plan. Typically, If you have a fixed price plan and your supplier announces a price rise, your rates will not change. Rates for these can sometimes be higher than a variable plan, at first glance.
While a fixed rate tariff will offer you security in your outgoings and is often some of the cheapest deals in the long run. The only catch is you will usually be tied in for at least a year and will need to pay fees if you want to exit the fixed tariff deal.
What’s a variable energy tariff?
A variable energy tariff is an energy price that varies during your plan. Your unit rates and therefore, standing charge, may increase or decrease depending on supplier rates, the cost of wholesale energy changes, of if Ofgem (the UK’s energy regulator), change the price cap at any point.
It’s also possible to leave a variable tariff much sooner without any fees, which can be useful if you’ve found a cheaper energy supplier or moving premises.
Fixed or variable tariff?
Below we’ll discuss the pros and cons of fixed and variable tariffs to give you an idea of which to go for. This table explains it in a nutshell:
|Fixed rate||Variable rate|
|Pay the same price for your energy units for a fixed length of time||Your per unit energy cost can go up or down, depending on market value|
|Early exit fee can be around £30-£60 if you leave before your contract end date (some plans don’t charge this, though)||No contract end fee|
Below is a full breakdown of the pros and cons of a fixed and variable tariff.
Pros of a fixed tariff
- Peace of mind. You’ll pay the same price if Ofgem increases energy rates
- Choose the length of your contract. You can pick between short-term and long-term contracts, depending on how long you’ll live in your student house for
- Easier to budget with. If you know exactly how much you’re spending per month, you can work it into your budget seamlessly.
Cons of a fixed tariff
- Could be more expensive if…energy prices drop. This means you’ll have to pay the same fixed rate if energy costs are lower across the board
- You may have to pay an exit fee. Just like any contract, if you want to leave before your contract is up, you’ll have to pay a fee. However, Ofgem has ruled that your energy supplier can’t charge you any exit fees if you switch within the last 49 days (or seven weeks) of your contract (or from the date you received your Statement of Renewal Terms if earlier).
Pros of a variable tariff
- Potential to be cost-effective. If wholesale energy costs fall, so will your bills
- No exit fees. Meaning you can switch to another tariff for the supplier at any time
- Standard variable default tariff. If you’re on this, you’re protected by the energy price cap, essentially the maximum you can be charged for your energy use. This is reviewed every three months by Ofgem.
Cons of a variable tariff
- Rising energy costs = higher bills. Your unit rate and the standing charge will rise in line with rising energy costs by Ofgem
- Harder to budget. It’s hard to predict how much your bills will be in the current economic climate.
We hope this has shed light on how to find the cheapest student energy providers, plus tips on how to pick between a fixed and variable tariff. Sign up to Student Beans to keep in the know of our latest offers and gain access to exclusive student utilities discounts!