Perhaps the single most commonly asked question by first-year students going it alone for the first time is that of how to cut costs and thus maximise their cash, without having to cut corners. Suffice to say, this is pretty much the million dollar question asked by most of us pretty frequently throughout our lives, though there’s really no disputing the fact that trying to get by on the budget of a student can be no fun whatsoever.
The good news however is that no matter what kind of accommodation you choose or where you choose it, there are various ways and means by which energy bills can be brought down. From halls of residence in Reading to private student housing in Newcastle, a few tips mixed with a little common sense have the potential to bring the kinds of savings that could very well make a genuinely noticeable difference to your student life in general:
Hit the Library
For example, chances are that when heading out to university for the first time one of the very last places you intend to spend an hour after hour is the library. Admittedly, libraries can be about as fun as dry toast, but it’s worth remembering that there are two things on offer in the library above and beyond the books – free heating and free electricity to charge your appliances. The thing is, you have to study somewhere so why not make the place you study somewhere that is heated for free and can be used to charge your laptop, your smartphone, your tablet PC and pretty much anything else with a battery?
These days, the likelihood of you ever being thrown out of a Starbucks simply because you were stealing their Wi-Fi and charging your laptop is pretty low to say the least. Of course you can always make the token gesture of buying the cheapest muffin on the menu just to technically qualify as a customer, but in any case it’s another great way of staying warm and juicing up your devices free of charge.
Put Some Clothes On
If you’re the kind of person who insists on sitting around in your underwear despite the fact that it is -5° C outside, you really have no grounds for complaining when you receive a rather excessive utility bill. It might sound like the most obvious tip in the world and indeed it is, but you’d be surprised just how many people refuse to dress appropriately for the season while indoors and instead compensate with deliciously expensive gas and electricity.
The more time you spend out and about with your friends…particularly in their rooms and houses… the less time you have to spend using your own heating and electricity. That being said, one of the most effective ways of adding plenty of free heat to your own room is by inviting a bunch of people over and having them donate their body warmth free of charge without even realising it.
If it’s an option, you will usually be offered an all-inclusive deal with regard to utility bills when you first move in. Nevertheless, it is always worth asking whether or not it would be possible to switch to a deal that includes all gas and electricity bills along with your rent in a single fixed monthly sum. Of course this only applies to those who are prone to using plenty of energy, but it’s always worth investigating.
There are of course far more wonderful and amicable reasons why you’d want to go home and visit your family, but to leave university each weekend and spend the best part of three days living out of your parents’ pockets is a habit that is practiced as standard and religiously by so many savvy students.
Never forget that if you are dealing directly with an energy provider rather than your landlord, this means you are well within your rights to shop around for a better deal. If the utility provider hasn’t been swapped for a while, it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to find a better deal from a competing provider willing to offer you the same services for less. It takes just seconds to compare the market online and make the switch should a better deal be found.
Cook in Bulk
Last but not least, it’s worth remembering that there is often not a great deal of difference between the energy required to cook two portions of something and the energy needed to whip up a full dozen portions. As such, if you are something of a budding student gourmet and prefer to make all your own meals, it can save you a fortune in both energy and grocery expenses to get into the habit of cooking in bulk and freezing meals for future retrieval.