When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Utility costs

Utility costs can be hard to budget for, particularly if you get a bill rather than using a pay as you go meter. You can switch your utility supplier if you can get a better deal elsewhere.  There are lots of comparison websites about that can help you decide if switching supplier can save you money.

Household bills

Unless bills are included as part of your rent, you will have to pay gas, electricity and telephone bills. These bills are usually sent out every three months but you can usually arrange to pay bills monthly. It may work out cheaper if you pay online or by direct debit.

Gas and electricity suppliers can fit prepay meters to your supply.  This can be useful if you find it hard to budget for large bills.

You will need to split the bills with your housemates if you share a flat or house. This can cause problems so try to work out an amicable agreement for splitting bills at the beginning of your tenancy.
If you are moving into a new property you may need to set aside money for final bills at your old address and/or connection charges in your new home. Your household bills may be more than you are used to paying if the property you buy is larger than your previous home, or is not well insulated.

Switching suppliers

The Consumer Council publishes comparison tables showing how electricity and gas suppliers in Northern Ireland stack up against each other.  It has also produced a useful guide to help people who want to switch suppliers. You can also visit the website to work out how much you could save by switching your electricity supplier. 

If you are responsible for paying your energy supplier directly you don’t need your landlord’s permission to switch but should probably run it past him or her before you go ahead. Check your tenancy agreement in case it mentions anything about switching suppliers. 

TV licence

You need a TV licence if you watch live TV or use the BBC iPlayer to watch shows after they've originally been broadcast.  If you live in a shared house with more than one television you may need your own licence.   The TV Licensing website can help you work out how many licences you need.