Tag: going green

TLA: Choosing The Best Energy Supplier For Your Rental Property

If, like many tenants, your rental package is not bills inclusive, it will fall upon you to pick your own energy supplier. But how can you go about picking the best one, with the best value for money and the biggest impact on lowering your carbon footprint?

Below, we outline some top tips on the key things you need to be considering when choosing an energy supplier…

 

Use comparison sites to shop around

For better or worse, the adverts for these sites are now ingrained in our collective consciousness, but they do actually have a use – particularly when it comes to comparing things like the best energy deals on the market.

Picking the right gas and electricity deal could save you considerable amounts of money each year (hundreds of pounds off your energy bills, in many cases), so it’s worth doing your research and shopping around for the best possible package before you commit yourself to a particular provider.

Sites such as Compare The Market and moneysupermarket.com allow you to compare fuel tariffs, while Which? Switch and uSwitch also allow you to compare a range of tariffs in your area.

 

Which tariff should you choose?

There are a number of things you should bear in mind when choosing your energy supplier. Do you want a fixed, variable or green energy deal? Do you want to combine your gas and electricity in a dual fuel package?

Do you want to be on a ‘time of use’ deal, which lowers rates for your electricity in off-peak hours – usually between midnight and 7am? If you use most of your energy during these hours, time of use is something you may want to consider. In most cases peak energy use will be outside these hours, but for some it might represent the right deal.

Meanwhile, in a similar way to mortgages, a fixed energy deal is often cheaper and more secure than a variable one – with prices fixed for the length of the contract, or fixed at different rates, at separate stages of the contract.

However, on a fixed deal, if energy rates go down, your rate will not be reduced. What’s more, while fixed deals are often the cheapest, they don’t tend to offer much flexibility in terms of switching. If you choose to change deals more than 42 days before the end of your contract, you are liable to pay a fee to do so.

A greener approach – Visit Our Green partners, WorldofRenewables.com

With the growth in renewable energy and greater awareness about climate change, many consumers are keen to take a greener approach to many aspects of life. This includes energy deals, where green energy tariffs are an option. These tariffs use more renewable energy than standard gas or electricity deals.

This could cost you more than other tariffs, but there are certain green suppliers – including OVO Energy, Green Network Energy, Green Star Energy and Ecotricity – who offer cheaper green energy deals.

With BP recently suggesting that renewable energy will be the world’s main power source by 2040, greener energy is likely to be more popular than ever in the coming years and is something you may want consider now to help the environment and, in many cases, secure lower bills.

Check out our Going Green section on the homepage.

Switching tariffs or providers

If you’re already on one tariff, and want to switch to a cheaper one to save money on your energy bills, you can ask your supplier to move you to a cheaper tariff. Or, alternatively, you can switch to a totally new provider.

Switching can save you money and can also allow you to source a more energy efficient tariff and enable you to switch more easily at a future juncture.

Assuming you are not in debt to your current supplier, you can switch by phone or online. You can use the sites mentioned above to search for deals by postcode and compare tariffs, inputting your energy usage to ensure you get the most accurate results possible.

If you have a smart meter, information on your energy usage will be provided – or you could simply look at your latest bill.

Once you’ve found the right deal, you can confirm your switch by providing your new supplier with full bank and address details. It should take around three weeks for the switch to take place, and you may have to pay a small cancellation fee (typically £25 to £30 for each service) to your existing supplier, especially if you’re on a fixed deal.

The Big Six – who are they?

When the topic of energy suppliers in the UK is raised, you’ll often hear about the Big Six – the companies responsible for providing approximately 95% of the country’s energy. But who are these firms?

  • British Gas
  • npower
  • ScottishPower
  • SSE
  • EDF Energy
  • E.ON UK

While these companies provide the vast majority of UK homes with gas and electricity, there are a whole host of smaller suppliers on the market who may offer better deals, including local and green providers.

Often, these smaller companies have higher levels of customer satisfaction as they can offer a more personal service.

What’s more, fears about issues being caused by a small supplier going out of business suddenly are misguided, with energy regulator Ofgem recently introducing measures to protect consumers from losing their energy supply if a small supplier goes bust.

Despite the possible benefits of switching suppliers, many are put off by the time, cost and hassle they perceive to be involved. As a result, less than half of the UK’s population has ever switched their energy supplier, even with regular calls from MPs for people to browse around for better deals.

Paying for your energy

In some cases, people opt for a prepayment tariff, whereby you top up your energy using a prepayment meter. This means you pay for your energy in advance and swerve the prospect of monthly and quarterly bills, offering more flexibility and an effective pay as you go approach to energy.

While this ensures you are more likely to only pay for the energy you need, a prepayment meter typically makes gas and electricity more expensive.

If you don’t have a prepayment meter, you can pay your energy bill on a quarterly basis (by cheque, direct debit or BACS transfer), or via a monthly direct debit. The latter option is very often the cheapest, with most suppliers providing discounts for those paying by direct debit.

One other option is to make regular payments via a credit or debit card, which can be done weekly, every two weeks or every month.

Splitting the bill

If you are part of a house share or living in a student property with your friends while at university, you will want to find a way of splitting the bills you owe fairly and easily.

Sites such as Glide simplify bills for students by combining all utilities into an equal monthly split for each tenant, reducing the possibility of disagreements over who owes what and who paid what when. It also means chasing housemates for money becomes less of an issue.

However you do it, you should decide on a system and stick to it. If one or two people use much more energy than others, they may be willing to contribute more to the monthly energy costs. Work things out fairly and remain consistent with this thereafter.

As you can see, there is quite a lot to get your head around when it comes to choosing the right energy supplier for your rental property. But there is plenty of help out there to help you pick the right package and provider, and you may want to seek advice from your landlord, friends or parents on which energy supplier they would recommend.

Remember, too, switching isn’t as hard as you probably think it is, so it’s worth regularly reviewing your energy package to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.

Landlords: How To Become More Environmentally Friendly

In recent years the movement towards leading a sustainable and environmentally-friendly existence has been gathering pace.

Alongside popular TV shows such as Blue Planet highlighting the damage our actions can have on the planet’s oceans, many retailers and supermarkets are aiming to reduce their plastic consumption and there has of course been the successful 5p carrier bag charge, introduced in England in October 2015.

As a population, we’re more invested in eco matters than ever before. As well as through the foods we choose to eat and the brands we choose to buy from, sustainability and green values are shining through in our home life.

In fact, a number of surveys have shown just how important having an environmentally-friendly home is becoming for tenants. For example, a survey of 500 tenants, carried out by YouGov on behalf of PC World, found that 80% of respondents agreed that landlords should consider the environmental impact of their property and undertake measures to ensure that it’s environmentally-friendly.

So, with all of this in mind, what can you do to make your rental property greener and more sustainable?

Composting and waste management

Composting your waste is a great way to be more eco-friendly. All you need to do is buy a compost bin for your garden and then use it to store any fruit and vegetable scraps you produce, plus other compostable items (egg shells, hair and tea bags).

By creating something that goes back into the ground, you are reducing the amount of waste your household produces. Compost will also make it easier for you to grow your own fruit and vegetables, which can save you money and also wins you extra brownie points in the sustainability rankings.

When it comes to other household waste that can’t be composted, make sure you recycle as much as you can and use food waste services if they are available to you. All of this contributes towards making your home more environmentally-friendly and reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill sites.

Plastic and packaging

Overuse of plastic and excess packaging are two of the biggest environmental issues facing the planet. So, to reduce your consumption and lead a more sustainable home life you could purchase products with less plastic and packaging where possible and make sure anything you do use is recycled.

You could also use more natural or upcycled containers to store dry food and other items, with the added bonus that they also look better. Meanwhile, there is also increasing use of natural cleaning products such as vinegar, fruit acid and bicarbonate of soda which, by their very nature, require less packaging.

Insulation and energy bills

It could be hugely beneficial to check if your rental property is insulated as improving insulation of a home will provide a significant boost to its energy efficiency. A well-insulated property will mean lower energy bills for you and it’s also in your landlord’s interest due to recent legislation changes.

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As of April this year, landlords are no longer able to let properties with a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F- or G-. What’s more, this legislation – called Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) – is being extended to all existing tenancies from April 2020.

There are also rules which mean tenants can request energy efficiency improvements from their landlords, which you can read more about here.

Smart meters and electricity

Installing smart meters can reduce energy consumption, making a home more energy efficient and reducing energy bills – particularly in the winter – at the same time. Smart meters record gas and electricity usage and automatically send readings to providers, which makes for more accurate readings and subsequently energy bills.

They show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, and how energy efficient your home is – allowing you to monitor your energy consumption more efficiently.

Before getting a smart meter installed, always ask your landlord’s permission. You can find out more about how a smart meter could improve your home’s energy efficiency here.

The importance of water use

Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how important it is to monitor our water consumption. You can take a greener approach to water by notifying your landlord of any leaks or drips so that they can fix them quickly.

You could also ask them to invest in a water-saving showerhead and toilet flush and also reduce your water consumption by taking less baths and more showers.

There we have it, some useful habits which could help you to make your rental property more sustainable, while reducing your energy bills and household costs at the same time.

Remember – before making any significant green changes to your home, you’ll need to ask your landlord’s permission.