Life as a student can be financially challenging. Having little to no income source, with the pressure of tuition, rent, food and everything else to pay on your shoulders. The unfortunate reality is that for the majority, money will be tight, but if you budget smartly and save money in all the right places, you’ll still be able to do everything you want to. Perhaps the most bypassed money saving idea within the student household is energy bills. Energy bills generally arrive at your house every month in an envelope greeted by annoyance and the sound of your bank account crying, but why doesn’t anyone ever think of switching to a cheaper tariff? People around Great Britain have been free to choose their energy provider since 1990; however, people in student housing still seem to be happy sticking with the default, more expensive tariff that your landlord is likely to have you on. Let’s find out what you can do about it.

How much energy are you likely to use in your house?

Working on an estimate that there are 4 people sharing a house that use a steady amount of electricity through the day, not implementing any energy saving measures, you’d be likely to use around 12,500 kWh of gas and 7,500 kWh of electricity. To put this into perspective, the average UK household uses around 12,500 kWh of gas and 3,100 kWh of electricity, which means your gas usage will generally be a lot lower per person than the average due to reluctance to switch on the heating, but your electricity will likely be much higher. It’s difficult to estimate the exact usage of each additional student due to unchanging costs such as the fridge, shared appliances and lighting; however, it’s fair to say an additional student and room would add upwards of 2,000 kWh of gas and 1,000 kWh electricity, so you can make your estimates based on your own household.

How much would this usage cost?

Throughout Great Britain there are over 100 energy suppliers in operation all with different prices for different regions of the country, meaning this question can only be answered with an estimate using the most popular energy providers in the region. Choosing a place at random, let’s say Newcastle Upon Tyne, we can assume that a large number of student houses will be on a standard variable tariff with Npower, because it is the area’s incumbent (default) supplier. If we say also that this student house is going to be located in Jesmond, as it is the most popular residential student area, we can use said postcode to do an estimate. So, for a standard variable tariff on Npower, the yearly usage of 12,500 kWh of gas and 7,500 kWh of electricity would be as follows for the household.

Npower ‘Standard SC’, North East

£48 per month – Gas

£116 per month – Electricity


£1,976.85 per year for dual fuel

If, however, you decided to switch your energy tariff to the cheapest on the market, your bills would look a little more like this:

Sainsbury’s Energy ‘Fixed Price June 2018’

£35 per month – Gas

£82 per month – Electricity


£1,405.33 per year for dual fuel

Just for switching your tariff, receiving exactly the same product, consuming exactly the same amount, you are saving a massive £562.52 over the year!

What about the contract?

One of the things you may be worrying about is the length of the contract. Yes, you’re probably only in the house for 12 months and if you’re already a month or two into your year when you’re reading this, that’s two or three months that are outside of your tenancy when you leave. Not to worry. Unlike mobile phone contracts, you can cancel your energy tariff whenever you want; however, some energy suppliers may charge you for doing this. The tariff mentioned above, the ‘Fixed Price June 2018’ by Sainsbury’s Energy is a 12 month contract and can be cancelled for £20 per fuel, so £40, whenever you so wish throughout your year. Given the £562.52 saving you’ll be saving by switching, it still makes 100% sense to go ahead with it.

What is the best way to switch?

There are a number of ways that you can switch nowadays, the most popular of which is through a comparison service like Selectra . Aside from this, many people like to go directly to a company that they know and trust; however, being a student it is unlikely that you’re going to have had much experience with any energy suppliers up until now. If your parents have a recommendation or you have read up on a certain supplier, you can go directly to their website, get a quote online or give them a call. Alternatively as mentioned before, the most popular switching method is to use a comparison service which gives you a full comparison of the market, allowing you to see which price is the cheapest, with the option of getting advice over the phone for your specific situation.