A Guide to Energy in a Shared House

Written by Ellen Holcombe

A Guide to Energy in a Shared House

If you’ve never had to sort out your own energy bills before, it can seem like a bit of a minefield. Whether you’re just about to move out of your parents’ house or halls, setting up your own gas and electricity is a necessary step for any student. And thanks to the complicated energy industry, it can be pretty scary step.

Rather than leave you to figure it out on your own, we’ve pulled together a guide for energy first-timers to make things a little easier and a whole lot less stressful for you.

Chatting Split: The Vocab

The energy industry is jam-packed full of buzzwords and jargon (and the odd made-up word). It can make choosing a tariff and setting up your gas and electricity way more complicated than it should be. We’ve included a quick rundown at the end of this post.

Picking the Right Tariff

Picking the right tariff for you and your housemates can be a bit daunting, but we’ll break it down for you and make it super simple.

There are 3 main things to consider when you’re picking an energy tariff:

  • Price of Energy
  • Electricity or Dual Fuel?
  • Fixed or Variable?

We’ll run through each one to help you figure out exactly what you need.

Price of Energy

Obviously the price of energy is a biggie. To get the best price you’ll need to shop around to find the best deal. When you’re comparing tariffs, look at the one-off charges as well as the unit rates for energy (and don’t forget that some suppliers will offer different day and night rates if you have an Economy Meter).

Or... you could just go with Split The Bills. Our supplier’s dual fuel tariffs are cheaper than the ‘Big 6’ energy suppliers.

A Guide to Energy in a Shared House

Electricity or Dual Fuel?

You don’t actually get a choice with this, but it will affect which tariff you go for. Find out from your landlord if your new gaff uses just electricity or electricity and gas.

If your house uses both, you could, in theory, sort your gas and electricity separately. Don’t do that. There’s a reason dual fuel tariffs exist and that’s because it’s easier and cheaper to set them up together.

Fixed or Variable?

If you’re setting up your energy on your own, you’ll have to choose between fixed price and variable tariffs.

There are pros and cons for both. Fixed price means that you can budget much better as the price won’t change but means you could be tied into a 12 month contract (even if you’re only in your property for 9 months). Variable means that your cost could go up (or down) throughout your contract but it does mean that you can switch off your tariff whenever you like.

At Split The Bills, we offer the best of both worlds. We’ve negotiated an exclusive tariff with our supplier which means that you get the price security of a fixed price but with the flexibility of a variable*.

Getting Started

If you fancy going at it alone, check out our step-by-step checklist for setting up all your bills.

Seems a bit much, right? Setting up your energy with Split The Bills is super easy, plus you can sort all your other bills at the same time.

Get started with Split the Bills and we’ll sort out the perfect tariff for you. Our supplier’s dual fuel tariffs are cheaper than the ‘Big 6’ and we’ve negotiated exclusive fixed price tariffs that we can offer for a minimum of 6 months.

Taking an Energy Meter Reading

One of the first things you should do when you move into your new gaff is take a meter reading. That way, you won’t end up paying for the previous tenants’ energy. You should submit meter readings regularly (your supplier will remind you) so that you get accurate bills and don’t end up with a mahoosive bill and the end of the year.

So, onto taking a meter reading...

Step 1: Locate your energy meters.
This is a pretty important step and is probably something you should ask your landlord as soon as you move in. You’ll either have just an electricity meter or an electricity meter and a gas meter. They will probably be somewhere pretty hidden like under the stairs, in the basement, or even outside.

How to tell the difference between you water, electricity, and gas meters:

First off, look at the units of measurement. Water is measured in cubic meters (㎥) or cubic feet (ft³), electricity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), and gas is also measured in cubic meters (㎥) or cubic feet (ft³) . Your water meter might have a water droplet graphic on and gas meters all tend to have a warning on saying “if you smell gas, please call this number”.

Step 2: Make a note of the numbers on the meters.
On the front of each meter there will be a display of numbers. They will probably look something like this:



Read the numbers from left to right and ignore any numbers in red, any numbers after the red, and anything that appears after a decimal point. Include any 0s at the beginning. If the number on the far right (ignoring the red digit) is halfway between two numbers, always pick the lower number.

If you have an economy meter, you will see two rates (rate 1 and rate 2). This is because you will have a different rate for energy you use in the day to energy you use in the evening and at the weekend. Make sure you make a note of both numbers (and don’t forget to write down which is for rate 1 and which is for rate 2).

Step 3: Submit your meter readings.
Once you’ve read your meters, it’s time to submit them. You can do this online with most suppliers, or failing that, just give them a call.

If you’ve set up your energy with Split The Bills, you can either log in to your portal online and submit your readings or drop us an email or call. We’ll sort the rest out for you.

Still Struggling?

If energy is still boggling your mind, have a chat to the Split Squad. They’ll help you work out exactly what you need and how to get set up.

*Our supplier’s minimum tariff is 6 months and your cost could change up to twice each year.

The Vocab

Boiler: Your boiler is the thing that heats your house. You’ll either have a gas or an electric boiler. If you have a gas boiler, you’re going to need a dual fuel tariff. If you have an electric boiler, you’ll only need to pay for electricity.

Credit: If you see the word credit on your bill, you’ve overpaid and are in credit (just like the good-old-days of having credit to spend on your phone).

Debit: Debit is the amount of money you owe for your energy. A quick tip to remember: debit sounds like debt and therefore you owe money.

Energy: Energy is a term used to mean gas, electricity, or gas and electricity.

Exit Fee: If you’re on a fixed price tariff, you may have to pay an exit fee at the end of your tenancy (depending on your supplier).

kWh: Stands for kilowatt hour and is the unit used to measure energy usage. (1 kWh will power a standard light bulb for 25 hours.)

Meter: A device that measures the amount of energy you use. There are a few different types of energy meter. It’s useful to know which type you’re dealing with so if you’re unsure, ask your landlord.

Economy Meter: A meter that tracks day and night usage separately. It’s sometimes referred to as an E7 or E10 meter.

Prepayment Meter: A meter where you pay for your energy before you use it. Kind of like topping up phone credit.

Smart Meter: A new type of meter that can digitally send meter readings to your energy supplier. They often come with monitors so you can keep track of your usage better.

Meter Reading: You energy is measured using a meter. To make sure you’re paying the right amount for your energy, you’ll need to read your meter (literally read it, there’ll be some numbers on the front) and submit those readings to your supplier on a regular basis.

MSN: Stands for Meter Serial Number. You'll find it on the front of your meter ether engraved or printed on a sticker. You might need to provide your MSN if your supplier is having trouble locating your energy supply.

Tariff: A tariff is energy-speak for your package or plan.

Dual Fuel Tariff: Dual fuel tariff is when you need both gas and electricity. Some houses only need electricity and some need both - ask your landlord if you’re unsure.

Fixed Tariff: A fixed tariff is a package or plan where the price per kWh is locked-in for a designated amount of time. Fixed tariffs often run for 12 months.

Variable Tariff: A variable tariff means that the price per kWh might go up (or down) with the energy market throughout your contract.

Thermostat: This is the thing that your parents would never let you touch. It controls the heating in your house.

Usage: Usage is literally how much energy you use.

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