Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months you can’t have escaped the energy cost crisis that’s unfolding in the UK. The increases over the past 6+ months have been bad enough, but it looks like they’re going to be overshadowed by further increases in the energy cap in October and again next January.

Even if your student house has been rented inclusive of bills it’s highly likely that there will be a cap on how much the landlord is willing to pay. This will usually be set out in the rental agreement. Typically, the cap will include a reasonable amount of headroom to make sure no further contribution during your tenancy but we’re not living in normal times.

Front of house

The cap in any agreement signed last year is likely to be exceeded during the 2022/23 academic year which means you will be asked to pay for any excess. This could run into £1000s spread between everyone in the house. So given this what can you do?

  • Find out exactly what the utility spend cap is and what it includes.
  • Work out as a house some basic ground rules about heating, cooking and using power hungry devices like dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers. Share a washing machine load, cook house meals rather than 6 individual meals and dry your washing on the washing line rather than in the tumble dryer when possible.
  • If you have one in the house, use the Smart Meter to work out how much you’re spending each day and look at what are the biggest contributors and whether you can change how you use them.
  • Turn the thermostat down in the winter and wear warmer clothes around the house.
  • Avoid using any “boost” function on the thermostat.
  • Don’t use supplementary plug-in electric room heaters. If your central heating is not keeping you warm enough then get the landlord to check the system and bleed the radiators.
  • Keep windows and doors closed when the heating is on.
  • Unplug any chargers that are not being used and don’t leave devices (games consoles etc.) on standby.
  • Only fill kettles with the amount of water you actually need to boil. It’s too easy just to fill up the kettle and turn it on and then waste 75% of the water you’ve heated.
  • Use the Dishwasher on the “eco” cycle and only use it when it’s full.
  • Don’t leave hot water taps running and avoid long showers.
  • If the house is empty during the holidays, then use the holiday mode on the thermostat (if you have one) and unplug all unused devices.
  • Spend more time on campus using the heat and electricity there.
  • Ask for regular updates from your landlord on your total spend vs any cap so you can get a better understanding of when you’re likely to exceed it and by how much. At least this way you can take early preventative action and budget between yourselves for the overspend.
  • Ask if any utility overspend can be taken from your deposit at the end of the year rather than trying to find more cash during the year (bear in mind it might not be enough).


Finally, if you are looking to rent a student house for the following year (2023/24) and you’re looking for a “bills included” house then be prepared for some pretty dramatic rental increases and make sure you check what cap is being imposed.

At 66 Sherwin Road we’ll be increasing our rent for 2023/24 to £135 pppw but we’ll also be increasing our utility cap from £3,500 to £6,000 for the 48 weeks of the agreement.