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This blog was last updated: 10th June 2024

For more info on bills, check out the ultimate guide to bills for students.

Here's a rundown on fixed-price bills vs. variable energy deals, and also some definitions of key terms you might see when you're sorting the bills for your student house this year.

What is an energy tariff?

A tariff is how energy suppliers charge for gas and electricity. There are two kinds: a fixed tariff and a variable tariff.

  • A tariff is the price you pay per unit of energy
  • You agree to a tariff when you sign up for an energy deal.
  • Your tariff also sets your daily standing charge, which is a daily cost to be connected to an energy network

Gas and electricity are priced in units called kWh, or kilowatt hours, so your tariff is the price you pay per kWh. Gas and electricity are priced differently, so you might see two sets of prices when looking at energy tariffs.

  • A kilowatt is a thousand watts of energy, and kWhs measures how many kilowatts your home uses in an hour.

Your energy supplier knows how much energy you've used from your smart meter ormeter readings. It's really important to submit regular meter readings so that your bills are up to date. If your supplier doesn’t get meter readings, you’ll get charged based on estimates which could be way off, meaning a big bill later.

Fixed and variable tariffs explained

What is a fixed energy tariff?

A fixed tariff means that your energy prices will stay the same for your whole energy contract. Your monthly payments won't change, even when the Ofgem energy price cap changes. 

  • A fixed tariff can provide amazing peace of mind, especially if you're setting a budget with no wiggle room. 
    • Having costs that don't change makes a budget much easier to create and stick to. 
  • When you're on a fixed energy tariff, supplier can only charge the fixed rate for your energy use during your contract.

What is a variable energy tariff?

A variable tariff changes the price you pay for energy throughout your contract, in line with theOfgem Energy Price Cap and standard variable tariff (SVT). 

  • The SVT is the default energy option you get from energy suppliers.
  • At the moment the SVT is updated every three months. 
  • The SVT is usually the most expensive option, and so fixed deals have historically been the popular choice for people setting up directly with a supplier, but this isn't always the case.

Which type of energy tariff is best for you?

There are pros and cons to both fixed and variable energy prices for students.

Pros and cons of fixed energy tariffs

  • A fixed tariff means more predictable bills - your price is literally fixed.
  • Your supplier can't charge you more than your fixed tariff price during your contract, even if the energy price cap goes up. 
  • On the other hand can mean you miss out on savings if the energy price cap falls below your tariff price.
  • New 12-month Fused packages for students and graduates come with a fixed tariff 🥳

Pros and cons of variable energy tariffs

  • A variable energy tariff can change during your contract, meaning your energy costs could go up or down with the Ofgem Energy Price Cap.
    • At the moment the Ofgem Energy Price Cap changes every three months, which means updated energy costs every three months too.
    • You could benefit from a drop in prices, or need to budget for extra outgoings if prices go up. 
  • This can make planning your finances harder.
  • Fused customers who choose a package shorter than 12 months are set up with a variable tariff 👍
    • A lot of existing customers on longer contracts also have a variable tariff. 
    • Any customers who aren't students or graduates will also be on a variable tariff. 

What is the Ofgem energy price cap and how does it affect student bills?

Ofgem is the government energy regulator, and their price cap is the maximum that energy suppliers can charge for their default tariff, the SVT. 

We have a full guide to the energy price cap for students if you want a deep dive!

How Fused student bills packages are priced

12-month student bills packages from Fused have Unlimited Energy with a fixed tariff

  • This means your monthly bill payments won't change, because your energy prices will stay the same for your whole contract.
    • This applies to student and graduate customers! 
  • What is a fixed tariff?

Shorter packages from Fused  have Unlimited Energy on a variable tariff

  • Packages 11.5 months or shorter will have a variable tariff, so you'll get an updated energy price every three months when the standard variable tariff changes.
    • This also applies to any customers who aren't students or graduates.
  • This means what you pay for bills will change often. It could go up or down!
  • You'll get an email from Fused 30 days before every price change, and your monthly payment will change after each price cap.
What is the standard variable tariff?

If you've come straight to this bit, here's a list of sections in this blog so you can learn more about tariffs:

More info about student bills: