Once you’ve moved in to your new home, an important thing to consider are your utility bills. Utility bills are effectively your water, heating and electricity bills. Unless you are already paying for these as part of your rent - you will be expected to budget for, and pay these off each month or every three months (dependant on the supplier and the agreement you have in place).
But although nobody likes paying bills, they don’t have to be the most stressful things. We’ve put together a few tips that should help keep things running smoothly.
Get your utility bills sorted out quickly - especially if you are sharing a house with others. Some contracts are fixed so you don’t want to end up paying for more time than you are actually living in a property. Also some suppliers may need time to get everything switched over, so you don’t want to create any extra hassle for yourself.
Find out who your current suppliers are. These may all be supplied by different companies or your electricity and heating may be provided by the same company. Either way, you want to know who to speak to so you can let them know that you now live at the property. Your letting agent or landlord will be able to tell you who currently supplies the house.
Set up the bills in your name. To do this, you can speak directly with the suppliers. It’s worth putting all house member’s names on the bills as it splits the responsibility and encourages everyone to pay their bills on time. This can also be useful when it comes to registering at other places, such as your local GP, as you will need a proof of address.
Check for any hidden costs in your tariffs. Make sure you have a read through of your current agreements and understand what tariff you are on. Just to be sure there are no unexpected costs later in the year. It is always good to understand why you are being charged what you are charged.
Switching suppliers may save you some money. Check with the landlord and in your tenancy agreement to see if they allow you to switch over. They might not allow it or you might need to switch back before you move out.
Take meter readings. Take meter readings of anything you can, to make sure you have a record of what you have used. Do this regularly so that you do not end up getting charged the wrong amount, which could end up in a surprise additional bill when it comes time to move out.
Split the bills. In a flatshare you may want to designate one person as the bill payer who you all pay directly to. Or you can create a joint house account that everyone pays into if you trust the other housemates, because it could affect credit scores if people decide they want to take their time paying. Ultimately, you will need to work out the best option for your household. But try to work out a way that limits your risk.
Make it a monthly payment. This way everyone in the house is clear on what they need to put in and wont be surprised by a larger chunk if the bills are actually paid every 3 months. This of course requires trust in whoever you are transferring to - it may be easier to put the money aside in your own savings if you are required to pay every 3 months, and you prefer not to pass that money on.
Don't forget to close your accounts when you move out. You can provide them with the final meter reading and you will be required to pay off any outstanding balance - or you might even be owed some money back. Make sure to hang on to a copy of your final bills.
If you follow our tips you will find that keeping on top of your bills doesn’t have to be a massive stress.
Let us know your tips for managing bills in a shared student household in the comments below.