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How to set up gas and electricity for the first time

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Fiona Leake
Updated 4th February 2021

Everyone needs to set up gas and electricity for the first time at some point. Whether you are renting, a student or buying your first home. Our step-by-step guide will make setting up energy bills seamless and answer any burning questions.

Moving house as a first-time buyer or a renter can be stressful, you have a long list of things that need doing, energy bills being one of them! Because moving is such a busy time, many people just stick with whatever energy provider is supplying their new home. This means that many people end up on the standard, most expensive, tariff. 

Avoid doing this by setting up your gas and electricity in the best possible way by following this guide.

What utilities do you need for a house?

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When you buy a property or are moving for the first time, it can be very difficult to know what needs paying for.

The standard utilities are as follows:

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Water

In this article, we focus on how to set up gas and electricity bills. For more information on water bills, check out our water bills guide.

The average cost of running a house

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The average energy bills in the UK cost around £97 a month at the time of writing. This totals to an average of around £1,100 a year.

However, you might pay more or less than this. The following can affect how much you are spend on energy bills each month:

  • Number of occupants
  • Property type
  • Property size
  • Property energy-efficiency rating - shown on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Energy costs might also vary depending on inflation and prices can rise from month to month. This is why fixed tariffs are so popular as you will pay the same price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from the beginning of the deal. Whereas, variable tariffs mean you’ll be subject to price changes.

If you think you might be paying too much, check out our guide on reducing energy bills.

How to set  up gas and electricity in a new home

Our step-by-step guide will help you sort out energy bills both before and after you make the move. 

Step 1: Before you move home

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If you are renting or selling your home, there are a few things you will need to do about your energy bills before you move. 

  1. Tell your energy supplier that you’re moving and when.
  2. Read your gas and electricity meters when you move out and send them for your final bill. This ensures that you won’t be overcharged.
  3. Let them know your new address so they can send your final bill.

Step 2: Locate the gas and electricity meters in your new home

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Once you’ve moved, you’ll want to take meter readings right away and send them to your new supplier. This way, you won’t be overcharged for what previous occupants used. You can find out how to take meter readings in our guide on energy bills.

However, before you can do this, you’ll need to locate the meters. You should be able to ask the estate agent, previous owners or landlord where your gas and electricity meters are. Or, you will have to locate them yourself, they can often be on an outside wall of the property. 

There are two types of meters:

  • Billed meter - you will be charged monthly or quarterly for the energy you use. 
  • Prepayment meter - you will have to load money onto the meter and pay for your energy in advance, topping it up when you need more.

Some rental or student properties might have prepayment meters. This is to avoid landlords being left with any unpaid bills to deal with. With prepayment meters, you must pay in advance.

Step 3: Locate the trip switch

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If you suddenly lose power in your home it’s often due to an electrical surge or faulty appliance. To turn the power back on, you’ll need to turn the trip switch back on. Therefore, you need to know when it is. 

This is usually located in or near the fuse box which must be within 3m of the electricity meter. 

Step 4: Find your meter number

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Both your gas and electricity meters will have a unique supply number. Your supplier might need these two numbers when you set up your account:

  • Gas Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN): your MPRN is on your energy bill and is six to ten digits long. If you can’t find an energy bill, you can request your MPRN from the Meter Point Administration Service.
  • Electricity Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN): your MPAN is also on your energy bill and is 21 digits long.

If you can’t find out for MPRN or MPAN, you can always just contact your supplier and ask, they might already have it on the system. 

Step 5: Contact your energy supplier for the first time

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You can find out who your gas and electricity suppliers are by asking the previous tenant, owner, landlord or estate agent. 

If all else fails, you can find your gas supplier by using the Find My Supplier service online.

Your electricity supplier can be found by calling the regional electricity distribution telephone number. 

Ring your energy supplier and let them know that you’re the new tenant or owner. You can also give them the meter readings. This way, you’ll avoid any of the previous occupant’s bills and the supplier can set up an account for you.

Step 6: Find out what tariff you’re on 

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When you receive your first bill or call your energy supplier, you can ask what tariff you are on. You are usually automatically put on the standard tariff which tends to be the most expensive.

Usually, the standard tariff is a variable tariff that means the cost of energy could increase. The cheapest energy tariff tends to be fixed tariffs as the price remains the same. 

You can find out more about tariffs in our guide on energy bills.

Step 7: Switch energy supplier to a better deal

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Many people stick with their current energy supplier and tariff when they move house. This is because it’s easy and they’ve got enough on their to-do list. 

However, comparing and switching energy suppliers is a fantastic way to save a lot of money on your energy bills. According to energy regulator Ofgem, 11 million households are on a standard tariff and could save £300 a year by switching suppliers.

So, take the time to compare deals and find cheaper offers! Read our guide on switching energy suppliers for more tips.

First-time buyer energy tips

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If this is your first time buying or renting a property, you might not know the best ways to use energy wisely and keep your bills low.

Here are some of our top energy tips:

  • Consider switching energy suppliers - you should always aim to be on the cheapest energy deal. So, don’t stop comparing energy suppliers once you move. 
  • Read your energy bill - keep on track with your energy by regularly checking your bill to make sure you aren’t being overcharged. Our guide on understanding energy bills has more information on this.
  • Take regular meter readings - keep track of how much energy you are using and make sure your bill is correct by regularly supplying meter readings.
  • Turn off standby appliances - try to turn things off properly when you aren’t using them. Leaving things on standby costs you more energy.
  • Turn down the thermostat - turning down your thermostat by just 1ºC could cut heating bills by up to £75 a year.

For more energy and money-saving tips check out our guide on reducing energy bills!

Setting up energy bills when renting

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Setting up gas and electricity in a rented property is almost the same as when you own the property. The key difference is finding out who’s responsible for the bills. This will be outlined in your tenancy agreement. The tenant is usually responsible for paying the energy bills but some landlords include the cost of the bills in the rent.

If you find that you are directly responsible for paying the bills, then you are free to switch to a cheaper energy supplier. Remember, when you first move in, you are likely on the standard tariff which will be expensive. Find out your energy supplier from your landlord and aim to switch as soon as possible.

You can always let your landlord know that you are switching but you are under no obligation to get your landlord’s approval on this.

Setting up gas and electricity in a new build

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Setting up energy bills in a new build should be just as simple as setting up gas and electricity in a rented property or first home. One key difference is that you’ll need to contact the property developer to find out who the gas and electricity supplier is.

You will then be free to switch or stick with them, depending on what the best deal is. Provide a meter reading just like you would with other properties. 

How to set up energy bills as a student

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Setting up gas and electricity in your student house doesn’t need to be confusing. Just like standard rental properties, you will already have a gas and electricity supplier. Find out who this supplier is by asking your landlord. 

You can then contact your supplier and provide them with meter readings which you should have taken the day you moved in. The supplier will then set up an account. You can now compare and switch to a cheaper energy supplier.

Try to make your housemates’ energy aware and encourage them to turn off appliances when not in use and switch off lights when they leave a room. Also, remember to arrange to split the energy bill so it’s fair!

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