Part 1: Choosing the Right Property
After leaving the perpetually cosy life of halls in first year, moving in to a rental property beckons a very cold reality for every University student (if you pardon the pun.) Gone are the days of 24/7 hot water, sweltering radiators and not having to worry about bills. Welcome to adult life: cold and archaic houses that will quite possibly grow mould if you don’t heat them properly. But do not fear! Avoid a very expensive learning curve and let Switchwise guide you through the process from finding your new property, setting up your energy supplier and, most importantly, finding the best deal for you.
We’ll reveal the secret tips through this step by step guide to help you save as much money as possible to spend on what really matters.
So, where to begin? It is important to consider your energy usage as early as possible as student accommodation is typically very energy inefficient. Look at Energy Performance Certificates when viewing properties. A low energy efficiency (E- G rating) will lead to higher energy costs, however, asking yourself a few simple questions to choose the right house could significantly decrease your future energy bills.
1. Do you have double glazing? The Energy Saving Trust estimates that good quality double-glazing could save £90- £120 off annual heating bills for a semi-detached property. Choosing a property with double glazing will conserve alot of energy and keep your house warmer with no effort on your part.
2. Are your bills included in your rent? Some properties have certain bills included. This may save you a lot of money and hassle in the long term but make sure that you fully understand the terms of this arrangement. Check with the landlord so you know exactly which bills you are liable to pay for and if there are any limitations. Ensure that there aren’t any fees for excessive usage as students are likely to use a large, but unpredictable, amount of energy.
2. Does the property have mould issues? If possible, ask the current tenants if they have had any issues with mould or high bills. If a property that you are viewing has problems with mould, it may require far more expensive heating than a house without issues. Dehumidifiers can combat mould but these can be expensive to buy and run.
3. Does the property have carpets? The BBC states that flooring without insulation accounts for 10% of domestic heat loss. A carpeted property will help your house stay warmer and conserve energy.
4. What kind of meter do you have? Energychoices.co.uk, an independent consumer service, state that households with a prepayment meter pay far more than those who have quarterly bills. They recommend that that you ask the landlord if a standard meter could be installed to avoid overpaying for your bills.
5. Does the property have an electric shower? A recent report on water consumption stated that hot water accounts for 10% of total energy bills. Electric showers use less water overall and heat water at the point of use so no heat energy is lost during transportation. While gas is typically cheaper than electricity, electric showers are more cost-effective than other types if you have shorter showers.
While many of the properties you are considering may be energy inefficient, choosing the right property could effortlessly begin to save you money. If you are unsure about how much energy you are using in your current household, find out by using our Home Electricity Running Cost Calculator.
In our next segment of the Student Guides, we will be discussing how you can avoid overpaying when setting up your energy providers in your new property so make sure you check back next week!