Setting up gas and electricity for the first time is usually an experience for the young adult leaving home for the first time – possibly going to University or renting a flat after being in a new job for a while. This group however are not the only people to set up gas and electricity accounts for the first time. Expats returning from overseas, and even immigrants who have come to the UK, as students, to work for a while or even to settle also have to jump this hurdle.
Prepaid or Credit Billing
To start with the best course of action is to establish whether your home has a prepaid meter or a billed meter. Once you have done that you can then search the comparison sites to establish which tariff will be best for you. How the tariffs are applied and the technical jargon can become a bit overwhelming, so what you really want to look for is a comparison table that will show you what you’ll be pay over a period of twelve months.
To compare accurately you’ll need to consider whether your home is heated by electricity or gas and how many radiators there are in the house and how energy efficient the property is. Double glazing is an immediate bonus for the bills, but even when you find yourself living in a listed building with sash windows, those heavy curtains and secondary glazing will affect the overall expenditure positively. You’ll need to have this information to hand, not only when comparing energy prices, but when your chosen supplier asks about property information when assessing your expected energy consumption.
Great for Building Creditworthiness
You may find that a billed tariff is more favourable than the prepaid tariff, but if you move into home with a prepay meter it is in your interest to check all the energy suppliers first. You may find that there are advantages to a prepaid meter. As a first time customer you won’t have to worry about transferring your account or carrying over credit or debit balances, refunds and the like. The process should be relatively smooth. If you don’t have a credit history, the supplier may ask for a deposit and if this is going to muddle your budget, it may pay to build your credit rating for a year or so with a slightly more expensive supplier that doesn’t require a deposit, and then switch energy supplier after a year once you have a proven record of paying your bills.
Proof of Address
When moving into a new property and you begin setting up gas and electricity for the first time, it is critical that you register the energy bills in your name. If you start to pay the energy bill of the previous occupant you may find that you are also paying of one of their previous energy debts. It’s easy enough to establish this with a prepaid meter as you can find the debt screen by pressing the recharge button a few times to scroll through the screens. Your energy bill will most likely be one of the first proofs of address that you have when moving into your own home for the first time- especially if you’ve returned to the UK as an expat or as an immigrant. Ironically, you’ll require a proof of address to open a bank account so this may be your first step to settling down.
Considering the options
Some tariffs will have two and in some rare cases three tariffs on the same account. White meter tariffs are designed to encourage people to use energy when demand on the grid is low and so the tariffs are cheaper. If you are able to do your laundry between 11pm and 7am, then the white meter tariffs are an immediate advantage as large appliances can have that meter turning over at a rate of knots. White meter tariffs are also ideal for homes where electric storage radiators are used and where there is no gas. This is a common feature in tower blocks and rural homes. These tariffs are available both on prepaid and credit billing when setting up gas and electricity for the first time.
Setting up the account
Once you have considered all the options, chosen your supplier and looked at all the available tariffs, your chosen supplier will have a dedicated phone number for setting up new accounts. The bigger companies have Freephone numbers and will also help with additional needs such as residents with disabilities and advice on the Warm Home Discount available to people in receipt of certain benefits and the vulnerable. Many of the companies have text phone facilities and will have access to customer service by email. It is however advisable to check reviews on how well these companies perform by your chosen method of communication. A few additional pence on the tariff may save you enormous amounts of frustration when setting up gas and electricity for the first time.