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First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Utility Bills

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Taking the final steps to becoming a homeowner? You probably don’t need us to tell you that the road for a first-time buyer can be a rocky one. With so much to think about, it can be easy to forget things like utility bills for example. So, let’s ensure nothing is overlooked. Here’s the first-time buyer’s guide to utility bills.

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What utilities do you need for a house?

It’s likely you’re already familiar with paying for bills. However, everything is different when you own the property yourself.

Time to clear things up! Here’s a list of utility bills for a house:

  • Electricity 
  • Water
  • Gas

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the extra costs you’ll be paying as a homeowner. From maintenance fees to mortgage payments, there’s a lot for first-time buyers to consider! Try not to miss any important steps from your first-time buyer checklist.

The average cost of utility bills and running a house

The average annual gas and electricity bill for a direct debit customer with ‘typical’ levels of consumption is £2,500 from October 2022 to March 2023.

From October 2023 to March 2024, the typical annual energy bill under the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is set at £3,000. However, with new lower consumption values, the actual average bill is about £2,860 for the same period. This reflects reduced typical levels of gas and electricity usage.

For more details, you can refer to the full Domestic Energy Prices report from the House of Commons Library.

However, this does not necessarily mean this is what you’ll be paying. Prices depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The number of occupants
  • The type of property
  • The size of your new home
  • The property’s energy rating, shown by an EPC. The more efficient your home, the less you should pay each month

Also, costs will vary year to year depending on inflation – meaning the average price of running a house per month is always changing. Can you actually afford to buy and run a home?

With all the first-time home buyer costs involved with moving to a new house, gas, electricity and water can be easily overlooked. However, it’s important to get your head around these utility bills to avoid overspending.

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Understanding gas and electric in a new home

Many first-time buyers are in the dark about what happens when they move into their new home. So, let’s straighten things out.

When it comes to gas and electric, you’ll automatically be transferred to old homeowner’s energy provider (or providers), often on their standard tariff.

It’s important to bear in mind that ‘standard tariff’ can often be an expensive option. So, do as much research as possible to ensure you’re paying a fair price!

How to set up gas and electricity for the first time in a new home

Setting up gas and electricity for the first-time can be tricky.

  1. Find out who your energy supplier is
  2. Locate gas & electricity meters
  3. Take meter readings
  4. Find the fuse box and trip switch
  5. Get your meter number
  6. Contact current supplier
  7. Find out what tariff you’re on
  8. Find a better energy deal

Once you’ve moved in, take things through step-by-step:

Find out who your supplier is

You could ask the seller or estate agent (or developer if the property is a new build) before you move in. However, if you haven’t done that, you can get in touch with:

  • For electricity, contact the Local Distribution Centre for your area.

Locate your energy meters

Gas and electricity meters can be found in a variety of places, from the kitchen to outside the home. Again, the estate agent or previous owners could point these out to you, but if not, the kitchen or hallway can be good places to start. The meter will either be a prepayment or standard meter.

  1. Standard meter = billed monthly or quarterly
  2. Prepayment meter = ‘pay as you go’. This allows you pay for energy in advance, topping up with a smart card/key or cash

Take meter readings

Once you’ve found your meters, it’s important to take meter readings and submit them to the supplier. This will help you avoid paying for energy you haven’t used.

It can be good idea to submit readings every month or so, to help keep your bills accurate. If your new home has a smart meter, it will automatically send the readings to your supplier. Getting a smart meter can help you track (and cut down) how much energy you use each month, helping you save money on your bills. It can be a very cost-effective energy saving home improvement!

Check that you have a trip switch

Should the power cut out, where’s your trip switch? Usually, this is located near or in the fuse box.

Get your meter point reference number

Your meter point administration number is unique to your home, used for identification. It can also be found on your energy bill.

The gas supply Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) will be unique to your home. If you don’t have a bill, you can request your MPRN from the Meter Point Administration Service (for gas). For electricity, you can get the Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) by also contacting your supplier.

Contact the current energy supplier

Ideally, on the day you move in, you should take meter readings, as you’ll want to make sure you get an accurate first bill. Remember – you’re responsible for this from the day you take ownership. You’ll not only avoid paying for energy you haven’t used, but also you can use your utility bill as proof of address.

Find out what tariff you’re on

Your energy supplier will likely tell you what tariff you’re on, but it will likely be their standard variable tariff, which is often the most expensive. Switching energy providers can help you find a better deal.

Find better utility bills deals

Moving into a new home is a great opportunity to find a better energy deal; one that saves you money while coming from renewable sources.

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First-time buyer gas and electric: how to save money

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to save money on their utility bills?

Here are some ways to help you do that:

  • Choose energy-efficient appliances 
  • Change your boiler
  • Replace light bulbs
  • Get a smart meter
  • Get an eco-kettle
  • Get double glazing
  • Loft insulation

Other ways to save include:

Comparing energy tariffs

When it comes to choosing utility providers – always compare.

This makes it much easier to find the best energy tariff for you. From fixed to variable, there are a variety to choose from. You need to work out which is most suitable for you and your situation.

Being mindful of what you use

It sounds simple enough, but is so easily forgotten. Taking care not to leave lights on all day, for example, can make a significant impact in helping you save money each month.

Keeping your home well-insulated

Your walls and loft can cause your property to haemorrhage money – so keep them insulated!

Take care to stop heat escaping through other areas also, such as chimneys and doors.

Switching utility providers

Switching energy providers can be another great way to save. You do not have to stay with the same companies as the previous homeowners.

You’ll be able to explore, compare energy prices and choose the best deal for you. Those who find themselves on a prepayment meter are often more tempted to switch, as you can end up paying for energy you don’t use.

When switching supplier, never go with the first option presented to you. Rather, ‘shop around’ for the best energy deal. Is a dual fuel tariff right for you? Online? Do your research!

With so many types of meters and tariffs out there, you’re bound to find something that suits you and your new property.

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Consider installing a water meter

Water bills differ from other utilities, as you cannot choose your water supplier – this depends on where you live.

However, there are ways to save money on water bills. A meter will allow you to pay for the water you use only.

Also, being careful not to waste water, for example leaving taps running for long periods of time, will also help lower costs.

Struggling to negotiate the property minefield? You’re not alone. Buying a home can be tough, particularly if you’ve never done it before! Luckily, we can help. From mortgages to deposits, we have plenty of advice for first-time buyers, all in one place. We’re here to get you onto the property ladder!

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Last Updated: June 26th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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