Its important to know what bills you may be faced with and how to deal with them.
Understanding student bills and picking the best student bank accounts for you can be difficult and what the term means is even more confusing, especially if you're looking for a utility bill discount. Student bills and any general utility bill can be stressful stuff for anyone, not just students, but don’t worry too much!
There are many bills that students come across during their times at university, from their accommodation rent, flat deposits, library fines (in fact, according to an article in 2012, most universities collected £50m in library fines) to mobile phone contracts and the budget they set for their weekly shop!
What is a utility bill?
A utility bill is how much a house or an office is supposed to pay for electricity, gas and water each month. A utility bill will be the amount you consume of any of these things each month, unless you have a fixed rate, although these are quite rare.
One utility bill may be more expensive than the others and it will usually depend on the time of year for certain elements. For instance, your electricity bill is likely to be more expensive around Christmas time, since it’s colder and you're more likely to put the heating on. A utility bill is still regulated by some local governments and authorities, so utility companies have less scope to take advantage of people.
What counts as a utility bill?
So what is classed as a utility bill and what are some utility bill examples? Anything that keeps your house or flat ticking over is a utility, so there are plenty of things that will count.
Water, electricity, gas (mainly natural), heating oil, internet, telephone and any cable services like Sky or BT Sport are the most common utility bills that you will find.
A bank statement is not a utility bill
How much is the average utility bill?
This will often depend on what you’re spending every month, so it will tend to throw the median off every time, but the average utility bill in the UK is listed below:
- Average UK electricity utility bill: £95-a-month*
- Average UK broadband utility bill: £30.30-a-month*
- Average UK gas utility bill: £56-a-month*
- Average UK sewage utility bill: £33.05-a-month*
- Average UK phone utility bill: £45.60-a-month*
- Average UK TV utility bill: £12.88-a-month (not including TV License)*
* Figures correct at the time of publishing (December 2021).
These make up the sections of an average utility bill in the UK. When you get your own utility bill, be sure to do a utility bill comparison with these figures and see how you compare them.
More and more people are looking into variable tariffs if they have dual fuel. The average bill for people looking into that, was £1254-a-year. That may sound like a lot, but that’s around 5% of the average UK household budget and it’s a lot easier if there are more than one of you paying it, though if you’re a student, you may find that a bit cheaper, especially if you are living in student accommodation at university. If you think you’re paying too much then you can always look to switch energy suppliers through OFGEM and find out more.
Is council tax a utility bill?
Student council tax is not considered to be a utility bill and neither is council tax when you're not a student.
Your council tax isn’t paid for in the same way that a utility bill is and it is a mandatory payment that everyone has to pay, therefore, you won't be able to use it as a form of identification and it won't apply as a utility bill.
Your council tax can change depending on how many people are in the property and it can also fluctuate according to changes in the local area.
What is a utility bill proof of address?
Sometimes, you will be asked to provide your proof of address. This can be when applying for a student credit card or when looking to buy a house or when applying for a rented accommodation etc. The reason for this is because something like a utility water bill will have your address on and will, therefore, be able to prove that you live at your current address.
The company that has asked for it will not be using it for anything else, it is just to prove that you really do live where you say you do. When it comes to these kinds of things, don’t use a fake utility bill. A fake utility bill is likely to land you in a lot of trouble, both for fraud and for forgery and will likely end any chances you had of your application being accepted. A utility bill proof of address is really just a technicality, but you still need to be careful with who you're handing it to and what you're using as a means of identifying yourself.
Is a bank statement a utility bill?
No, a bank statement is not a utility bill. A bank statement is just a clear and concise breakdown of the contents of your bank account and a good way for you to see what your bank are currently doing with regards to interest rates and so on, it isn’t a utility bill.
Is a phone bill a utility bill?
Yes. However, a home phone bill is considered a utility bill. When setting up broadband or internet and general WiFi, you will need to have a landline set up, which therefore means that your phone bill is a utility that feeds into other areas of the house or flat.
However, a mobile phone bill is not a utility bill. Since it is something that you personally pay for as a personal device, plus there are multiple types of phone contract out there. Although some companies do accept a phone bill as a proof of address.
One utility bill may be more expensive than the others and it will usually depend on the time of year for certain elements.
Is TV licence a utility bill?
A TV License is not a utility bill, although you do have to pay it annually. A student TV license is usually about £159, the same as it is for everyone else, but you cannot watch live terrestrial TV without a license, and a TV license funds the BBC and parts of Channel 4 as well, which is why we’re able to get amazing documentaries from them!
How to change name on utility bill
This is fairly straightforward, all you need to do is call up your utility provider and inform them that you need to change the name on the bill and they will talk you through the process required.
Where can I pay my utility bill?
Your utility bill is paid to the company who supplied you the bill. The method of payment will be sorted out beforehand, but most are done by either Direct Debit (very common) or Standing Order (less common). You may need to send the odd cheque, but that’s rather unlikely.
How long to keep utility bill statements?
So how long to keep utility bill receipts when you get them? This depends on how you receive them.
Some people receive their utility bills via the post, which is for their own records and also for purposes of proving their address, but most people will receive their bills via email or will log into an online portal. You don’t really need to hold onto them, unless you've been asked to, so you can store them or you can shred them!
The best thing to do is to hold onto the last three months worth of bills and then shred the remaining ones. One important tip to understand student bills and how to pay them all correctly and efficiently is to set up a budget where you can see what bills come out and when and how much they are. Once you have placed your outgoings in your undergraduate student budget, you will then be able to see how much money you have left for commuting to work or to university, as well as what you can ‘really’ afford on leisure – such as going out and shopping.
If you are worried about student bills this autumn, you can speak to your friends and family who you trust, and who can help advise you on your situation, or speak to someone at your university. The majority of institutions have finance departments who are there to help students who are in sticky situations or worried about their finances.