Most homes in the United Kingdom will already have a gas, water, electric and telephone supplier, and a new tenant will usually automatically take over these accounts. It is important that new tenants check the meter readings on the day they move into the new home and make sure that the services are transferred into their own name.

Types of utility bills in the UK

Household utility bills typically cover various essential services and expenses. These bills will vary based on factors such as location, household size, and usage patterns.

Household utility bills in the UK include:

Gas and electricity: These bills cover the cost of gas and electricity consumption. Gas and electricity suppliers are privatised in the UK, and tenants and homeowners can choose between different providers, and easily swap providers if they are out of contract. The largest six energy suppliers are: British Gas, E.On, Ovo, EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power, and they will allow bill payers to choose between both fixed and variable rates.

Many expats arriving in the UK will get help setting up utility providers from an agent or relocation company. Those not lucky enough to have this arranged for them can use companies like to help manage utility set-ups at their new homes.

Oil: Many rural properties are not connected to the gas network and have oil rather than gas boilers. The oil tank will need topping up every month or two. There are hundreds of companies that supply heating oil (kerosene), and households can use companies like to compare prices.

Water: Most of the water companies in the UK are privatised, although they are generally the only supplier within their area, so there is no option to choose a different supplier. Water bills include charges for both water usage and sewage services, and the cost will vary depending on the region and the amount of water consumed. Some rural properties are not on the mains sewerage system and will have a septic tank or sewerage treatment plant that will need to be emptied and serviced regularly.

Council tax: This is a local tax collected by local authorities to fund services such as waste collection, street cleaning, and local schools. The amount depends on the property's valuation and the local council tax band.

TV licence: Households in the UK are required to pay a TV licence fee if they watch or record live TV or use the BBC iPlayer. The fee contributes to funding the BBC.

Internet and phone: Charges for broadband internet and landline or mobile phone services are common household expenses. These bills may include fixed monthly charges as well as additional usage fees. When choosing a broadband supplier, consider factors such as speed, reliability, customer service and contract terms. Check if there are charges for installation, equipment costs, and potential cancellation fees. The largest telephone and broadband suppliers in the UK include BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk.

Home insurance: While not strictly a utility bill, home insurance is an essential expense to protect against potential damages, theft, or other unforeseen events. Building insurance is usually covered by the landlord.

Other services: Depending on individual circumstances, there may be additional bills for services like home security systems, satellite or cable TV subscriptions, and maintenance contracts.

Taking meter readings in the UK

All properties will have meters for their gas, electric and water supplies. The gas and electric meters will usually be within the property, although apartment buildings will often have the meters in the common areas. The water meter will often be outside the property, on the street. 

Tenants may be asked to submit gas and electricity meter readings via the supplier’s website. Every few months these will be manually checked by a representative from the supplier, although many properties now have smart meters, which can be checked remotely by the company.

The letting agent or estate agents should take meter readings before the start of a tenancy or before a property is purchased, but it's important to check the readings when moving in. 

Paying utility bills in the UK

Most utility companies and councils will send out quarterly bills by post, which can be paid via a bank transfer or credit card online or over the phone.  The majority of people opt to pay via Direct Debit, which will automatically take the money from a bank account each month, similar to ACH Debits in the USA.

Price comparison websites

It's important to regularly review energy contracts and compare contracts between the different providers, and there are several price comparison websites, that make this job easier. These comparison sites include:

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