Here’s everything you need to know about utility bills in a student house

November 19, 2020

If you’re moving away from home to study at university, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you think about household bills. The chances are that you’ve been lucky enough not to have had to worry about bills until now - so being thrown in at the deep end with things like gas, electricity, broadband and council tax can feel daunting. That’s on top of feeling anxious about starting uni.

The good news is that managing your household bills doesn’t have to be a challenge - below, we’ve put together everything you need to know to get started. We’ve also shared the ways the all-inclusive student bills package from Billing Better could help save you time and money… 



Handling gas and electricity bills

Gas and electricity will likely be your biggest expense when it comes to utility bills, although, not every house will have a gas connection.  When you first move in, the house will almost certainly be supplied with energy, so you’ll be able to switch on the lights and use the cooker when you’re settling in. From the start of the tenancy, you are responsible for paying for energy. 

When you move in, you will receive utility bills from the provider who the previous tenants were paying. At this point, you can either switch the supply to a new provider of your choice or continue to pay the supplier. 

Meter readings are used to determine how much energy you’re using (and therefore spending). These are generally located within the property. It’s best practice to provide monthly or quarterly readings to your supplier to ensure you’re paying the right amount for your bills. 

Take a photo of the meter readings when you move in (so you don’t end up paying the previous tenants energy bill) and send this to the energy supplier immediately. 

When you work with Billing Better, we’ll transfer the current energy supply to one of our own, and this generally takes about 6 weeks. During the process, the supply to the property is not affected but you will receive bills in the post from the existing supplier. Please upload images of these bills to your online account for us to deal with.


Water bills as a student

Water is pretty critical and again, your new student pad should have water when you move in unless the stop switch for water has been put on (ask your agent or landlord the location of this). 

The water into a property (clean water) and the water out of the property (waste) are supplied by a regional supplier and you'll either be on a standard tariff where you can use unlimited water for one fixed price (billed monthly or yearly) or have a water meter where you pay for what you use. 


Arranging broadband as a student

Good broadband is arguably the most important household bill in any modern house. And, because it can take a few weeks to set up, we'd recommend contacting your chosen provider at your earliest opportunity to place your order. 

Billing Better offers a unique next day unlimited SIM internet solution, which is an interim solution while the wire-connected service is arranged to ensure that you are online as quickly as possible. 


Do students need a TV licence?

If you plan on watching any live TV you'll need to purchase a TV Licence. This also now applies to watching catch-up TV on BBC iPlayer as well. A TV Licence for the year will cost £157.50.

It's a criminal offence to watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer unless you have a valid TV licence. Without one, you risk prosecution and can be issued a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs. You still need a licence even if you don't own a television and only watch BBC iPlayer on a phone, tablet or computer, though if your parents have a TV licence, you might not need to pay for one.


Paying Council Tax as a student

Council tax is a charge paid in 10 or 12 monthly instalments throughout the year. Council tax charges are made per household rather than per person and are calculated by the value of the property you're living in. Properties in England, Wales, and Scotland are divided into different value bands (A–H in England and Scotland; A–I in Wales).  Your home's council tax band depends on your postcode and how much the house was worth back in April 1991 for English properties, or 2003 for ones in Wales. 

The tax you pay goes directly towards your local council to foot the bill for items such as rubbish collections, street cleaning, local schools and roadworks, etc. 

The good news is that any household which is occupied exclusively by full-time students will qualify for a full exemption on council tax. To be classified as a full-time student, you must be on a course that lasts at least a year and requires over 21 hours of study each week. Part-time students still need to pay but could be eligible for a reduction based on other factors (including being the only non-full-time student in the household). If you're in a shared house with both full-time students and non-students, you will get a council tax bill through the door each month. However, only the non-student tenants will have to pay it – full-time students are still exempt. 


There you have it - everything you need to know about utility bills as a student. Got any other questions? Do get in touch and check back to the Billing Better blog soon for more advice.

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