Something to be aware of when viewing properties (and moving into them) is the type of gas & electric meters that are set up. They monitor how much energy is used and will generate the bills you’ll be responsible for paying. There are a range of types, so we’ve written this handy help guide to get up to speed on each of them.
Setting up your gas & electricity provider
The first step is getting all your utility accounts set up – exciting! Each property has an energy provider already in place. When a tenant moves into their new home, the provider set up already will be the one used by the previous occupant. There is no requirement for the new tenants to continue with this provider, so they’re free to shop around to see if there are better deals out there!
Tenants will need to set up an account dating from the lease start date (and the meter readings on that date) – it’s important to know that it will need to start from when the tenancy begins, and not when the tenant actually moves into the property or collects the keys.
All of our tenants are responsible for utility bills for the duration of their tenancy agreement. On your inventory, Umega will provide the meter readings from the day before the lease start date. This will be as accurate as possible and, if the tenant hasn’t moved into the property on the lease start date, they can use that meter reading to set up an account. All of Umega’s tenants are given a Tenancy Handbook when they first move in, which is chock-a-block with information on how to set up utility accounts.
This is what the majority of homes in the UK are set up with. They show the readings and should be read from left to right. Tenants should take note of the black numbers and ignore the red numbers. Hey presto, the meter readings are done!
These styles of meters are also affectionately termed ‘pay-as-you-go’ meters. Tenants pay for their gas & electric in advance through the use of a top up card or key. These can be topped up at local corner shops. Again, these readings should be read from left to right and the red numbers should be ignored. Although the standard meters are more popular in properties, prepayment meters can be super handy especially in rented shared flats. Tenants can pre-pay as much as they like onto the pre-paid cards/keys so taking it in turns splitting bills can be a lot easier to manage, and dealing with costs can be a lot easier and more up to date. This also leads onto another benefit – as payments are made upfront, tenants are never on the back foot with gas and electric bills. So, no nasty surprises when the quarterly bills come in…
The downside with a prepayment meter is that when the valuta on the key/card is spent the electricity or gas can disappear and first start again when the key/card is charged. It might also continue using electricity/gas and instead go into debt; this will then be paid when the key/card is topped up again.
If a property is set up with prepayment meters but Umega tenants wish to change to standard meters, they can contact their suppliers and request this change. Bonus, it’s free of charge! However, we do need our tenants check in with their Relationship Manager first because we need the approval of the landlord before any changes are made to the property.
Smart meters are becoming increasingly popular & there is a movement across the UK to move homes over to smart meters for gas and electricity between 2016-2020. These meters offer information on how and when tenants use energy and communicate this directly with the supplier, so there’s no need for meter readings, and tenants can be reassured that bills will be accurate. Smart meters can also show accurate usage day-to-day, so it can help keep bill conscious tenants on track with their daily expenses. This is a huge help in staying organised as tenants can prepare for the bills before they even arrive!
As with changing prepayment meters, if a property is set up with standard meters but tenants wish to change to smart meters, they can contact their suppliers and request this change (free of charge again!). But, as with any change to the property, we need the landlord’s approval first so tenants will need to check with their Relationship Manager first.
Quartermile Insite Meters
Within certain Simpson Loan blocks at Quartermile (where you’ll find us every day Monday to Friday fighting the great fight against those negative stereotypes of letting agents!), there is an energy meter built in from a company called Insite; they deal with the hot water and heating for the properties. To set up an account or make a payment with Insite, we send our tenants to the Insite website: https://www.insite-energy.co.uk/. We’ll also send our tenants the Insite welcome pack when they move into a property, which has a bunch of useful information about how to get set up and if you come across any problems. Flats with Insite will also need to set up an energy provider for the electricity in the property.
Does the type of meter affect the cost of my gas and electricity?
The actual type of meter in the property won’t directly affect the efficiency of the energy in the property, or in-turn the cost of bills. Smart meters and prepayment meters allow tenants to see exactly what they are using on a daily basis so costs can be managed easier, or at least there won’t be a risk of a higher than expected surprise bill down the line.
The costs of gas and electricity are related to a number of other factors, including the type of heating (use blog link to heating blog), the window glazing, efficiency/age of the boiler/heating system. To understand the efficiency of energy take note of the EPC (energy performance certificate) rating of the flat. It’s a legal requirement that each property must have one before being marketed, so this will always be available to view on the property advertisement. Tenants will also receive a copy of the EPC for the property when they move in.
We hope this helps explain some of the options you have when moving into a property (or even if you’ve been there a while but never quite got round to wrapping your head around things!). As always, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you need any help – that’s what we’re here for!