Mastering Student Energy Supply

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?, 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!



Better Customer Service for Energy Consumers

Ofgem have threatened to take charge of Scottish Power with a selling ban if they don’t offer better customer service for energy consumers within the next three months. It’s a brave move by Ofgem, and it seems to be a case of punishing to make an example. Continual warnings to The Big Six to improve behaviour in terms of billing, customer service and pricing have fallen on deaf ears, and Ofgem have finally stepped up try and encourage better customer service.

Senior partner Sarah Harrison stated, ‘In a properly functioning market we would expect companies to compete keenly on service.’. But is the UK a ‘properly functioning market’?

In June, Npower were warned to give better customer service and lower customer complaints or suffer a telesales ban, and this latest reflection on behavior suggests Ofgem are moving away from the previous fines placed on misbehavior and hitting harder by threatening energy providers with customer loss.

As with Npower reforming it’s billing and services just two months after receiving the ultimatum from Ofgem, Scottish Power will no doubt be trying hard to resolve customer issues and offer better customer service, but what does it say about The Big Six if when threatened with real customer and financial loss, they can suddenly sort out all problems that have failed to be even looked at over years of public dissatisfaction?

We feel these kind of regulatory threats, although harsh, could be the answer to energy providers bad behavior. The market ”reform” that was put in place to make the market ”more simple, clearer and fairer” by cutting down the amount of tariffs single energy providers could offer, was a big and complicated, whereas a simple consequence for bad behavior may have a lasting effect. Don’t change the system, change the consequences.

Energy Myth Busting

Energy Myth Busting

Energy Myth Busting

So you’ve set up your student house bills, you’ve switched to the ideal tariff and you know all there is to know about good energy saving habits. But it’s time to sort out the truth from the trash. Which housemate is claiming their habits actually save energy?

“Dishwashers waste energy and water.”
It’s official – the Centre for Sustainable Energy said so. Don’t be that guy that tries to ban everyone from using the dishwasher. It would actually use far more hot water to hand wash ALL those food-encrusted plates that your house mates have left out for a week. If you only use it with a full load, no more than once a day on a medium temperature, you’lll be saving money AND keeping your kitchen clean. Opting for an economy setting will also use less power and water. (If you’re even lucky to have a dishwasher of course.)

“I can’t switch energy provider in a rental property”
Ofgem states that you are legally entitled to switch energy suppliers. Of course, this is a different story if your landlord is responsible for your bills or there aren’t any other suppliers available. But, normally you CAN always switch. Your landlord is required to make you aware of any legal ties if a supplier is mentioned in your contract but Ofgem says that you are still entitled to change. Head to to get started.

“It’s not worth switching energy supplier, they’re all the same.”
LIES. Just like banks reward new customer with attractive interest rates, sticking with your old energy supplier won’t do you any favours. If you are an existing customer you will both likely have been moved on to a more expensive tariff. You aren’t rewarded for loyalty. Don’t be lazy, make sure you make the most of offers for new customers. Switching really isn’t as hard as you think- all you need to do is enter your postcode on

“Turning down the radiators will save us energy.”
Nope. If your thermostat is still turned up high your heating will still keep working until the room hits its specified temperature. Turning off radiators completely is also a bad plan as you’ll just be asking for mould to start growing in your student house.

“I can have long electric showers because they’re so much cheaper.”
Electric showers may save water heating costs but having a luxurious long shower may end up costing you just as much in electricity. No singing in the shower allowed I’m afraid.

“Turning up the thermostat will make the house heat faster.”
Don’t let yourself be tempted to ramp up your thermostat when you come to your freezing cold house. Your heating won’t work any faster, it will just be work for longer to reach a higher temperature. So it will cost you MORE without saving you any time. Not worth it. Get more energy saving tips here.