If your utilities (electricity, gas and water) aren't included in your monthly rent, you will need to setup an account with a utilities supplier. Landlords will normally require you to use the existing supplier and you may receive a letter from them - addressed to "The Occupant" - requesting your details. You can register with them by phone or online.
You should take meter readings on the first day you move into the property, to ensure that you aren’t paying for usage by the previous tenant, and then once a month on the same day. This ensures that you are only charged for your actual use and estimated bills are not generated by the supplier's system.
Your electricity and gas meters can be located in a cupboard, under the stairs, or outside of the property, depending on the age and type of the building. Not all properties have water meters, in which case your usage will be estimated by Thames Water.
If you can't access your meters or are uncertain of their location, ask your landlord or letting agent for a reading - they usually keep their own record on the day of checking in and out.
If you've moved to a new home which has a prepayment meter, it's vital that you register with the energy company as the new account holder. If you don't, you could end up paying the wrong rates as the previous occupier could be in debt to the energy supplier.
There are two main types of prepayment meters: key meters and smart card meters. A key meter uses a special electronic key with your tariff information on it. A smart card meanwhile sends your latest information through to your supplier when topped up.
Regardless of what type of prepayment meter you have you should make sure you know how to top it up. In case of an emergency, or when you're working from home, the last thing you want is your electricity to go out.
Winter Fuel Payments
If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you are eligible and you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
Making a claimIf you’re eligible but do not get paid automatically, you will need to make a claim on 0800 731 0160.
You will need to know:
- your National Insurance number
- your bank or building society details
- your BIC and IBAN numbers if you live in the EEA or Switzerland
- the date you were married or entered into a civil partnership (if appropriate)