As much as you may dread it, you need to do a great many things when moving into a new home – research your options, find good movers, take care of the paperwork, pare down your possessions, pack your household, plan you trip, etc. Overwhelmed by these important moving tasks, you may pay little attention to the more trivial aspects of the relocation process – such as transferring utilities, for example. After all, it only takes a few phone calls and filling in some documents to get the electricity, water, and other services at your old home turned off and the ones in your new property – turned on by the time of your move.
It isn’t difficult, indeed, but it takes time and may incur some unexpected expenses. And if you don’t handle it properly, you may end up unpacking your items in the dark or paying up for services you didn’t use.
To avoid such unpleasant situations, you need to transfer utilities in a timely and efficient manner. Follow the steps below to ensure a smooth and easy transition:
Step 1. Prepare a list of utilities to change when moving
Your first step is to make a list of the utility services you’re currently using (make sure you include the contact numbers of the service providers as well – you’ll have to call them and ask them to cancel the utilities or transfer them to your new home):
- Satellite or cable television
- Waste removal
- Home security, etc.
Once your list is ready, take some time to consider the importance and benefits of each and every service you’re currently paying for. Think about what utilities you really need and want and if you’d like some changes in any of the services you’re using. After all, moving is the perfect time to re-evaluate your needs and your priorities. You can’t do without electricity and water in your new home, of course, but some services are a matter of choice, so you may decide to opt out of a utility (do you still need a home phone?) or settle for a lower package (do you have enough time to watch so many TV programs?) in order to save money after the relocation.
When you’ve made up your mind, create a list of the utilities that you want to have in your new home and add a column where to write notes about the transfer.
Good to remember: Make sure you know your account numbers, passwords, and other relevant information (home address, social security number, etc.), so you can easily provide it when calling the service providers to schedule the utilities transfer.
Step 2. Research the service providers in your new area
If you’re moving short distance, you may be able to keep the same utility service providers you have now. In this case, it will be very easy to transfer the utilities to your new home – all you’ll have to do is request the last day of service for your old place and the first day of service for your new one. You’ll be able to keep the same accounts and won’t have to pay any cancellation or connection fees.
If you’re moving to another city or another state, your new area may not be serviced by your current providers. If so, you’ll have to cancel the services at your old home and set up the utilities in your new home with new providers:
- If you’re moving into an apartment, some services may be provided or pre-established by the building. The property manager will provide you with a list of the exclusive or preferred utility providers for the building;
- If you’re moving into a single family house, it will be best to talk to the previous owners and to your new neighbors about the local providers and the best deals you can get in the area;
- If you’re renting, ask your landlord if any of the utility services are included in the rent and if there are any restrictions (or recommendations) as to which service providers you should sign up with.
You can find detailed information about utility companies and service providers on the official city and state websites. Most municipalities provide local services such as trash collection, recycling services, and water and sewage services. Electricity and gas are generally supplied at a state level.
Good to remember: Some states have deregulated electricity and natural gas services which means that you’ll be able to choose from several different providers and service plans. Make sure you research your options well before signing up for a service – you may be able to save plenty of money with some of the plans or may be able to get a more environmentally friendly solution, etc.
Step 3. Contact your potential utility providers to discuss the details of the transfer
If you have a choice of utility providers, make sure you choose the best ones for you.
- Ask the previous residents of your new home, your new neighbors, and your real estate agent (or your landlord) how happy they were with the services they received, if they had any problems and how quickly they were fixed, what the average monthly bills were, etc.;
- Do an online research – visit the utility companies’ websites to see what they offer; read customer reviews to learn other people’s opinions of the service providers; join local forums to get feedback from current customers of the companies; etc.
After your initial research, make a list of the phone numbers of the utility companies that seem to best suit your needs and preferences and call them to find the answers to several important questions:
- What are the charges for starting a service?
- Do they require a deposit? (A deposit is usually required in case you don’t have a good credit rating or if you’re moving into your first home (or from abroad), and the utility providers are not able to make a credit check.)
- Do they offer any discounts or special deals for students, seniors, first-time consumers, residents of a particular community, etc.?
- Will someone need to be present at the home when the utility is set up?
Compare the offers and opt for the service providers that offer the highest quality services at the most reasonable prices.
Step 4. Schedule the changes
Switching utilities when moving takes time – most service providers require plenty of advance notice (at least 2 weeks) to accommodate the changes. Therefore, you’re advised to call your current and future utility companies about 3 weeks prior to the move to ensure that you get the services turned on and off on the dates you need (just make sure you have firm move-out and move-in days before you make the calls).
It’s recommendable to have your utilities disconnected the day after you move out and turned on the day before you move in. This way, you’ll prevent unnecessary hassle and inconveniences on moving day and will rest assured that there will be electricity and water in your new home when you arrive there.
Non-essentials, like television service, can wait a bit – it’s best to schedule their installation for a couple of days after the relocation, when most of the moving stress will be already gone but you won’t have fully arranged and cleaned your new home yet. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be present when some of the services are connected as the technicians will need to enter your home and make tests, so it’s a good idea to schedule them all for the same day.
Good to remember: Wait time for services will be longer during peak moving season, so you may want to call for activation earlier (a month or so in advance) if you’re moving house in the summer months.
You may or may not be able to connect utility services online – if the utility company provides a utility service application on their website, you’ll be able to submit it online; if not you’ll have to pay a trip to the company office to complete your application in person. Apart from the service application, you’re going to need a proof of identity (driver’s license, passport, social security card, etc.) and a proof of residence (lease agreement, mortgage account, property tax bill or receipt, etc.) when changing utilities when moving.
Step 5. Take care of the details
There are a few more essential things to do when cancelling utilities and setting up services in your new home:
- Pay up – Ask your current service providers about the final balances and pay any overdue bills before shut-off date;
- Give your current utility providers your new address so that they know where to send the final invoices. Make sure you pay the final bills on time;
- Return equipment (if applicable) – If the company provided you with any equipment (such as a modem, a satellite dish, etc.), make sure you return it by the designated date;
- Collect refunds and utility deposits (if any) – You can use the money for the start-up fees and new utility deposits you may need to make;
- Arrange a final reading of the gas, electric, and water meters – Keep a copy of the report and take a picture of the readings on the meters just before leaving your old home (your records will serve as evidence in case of a dispute). When you receive the final invoice from the utility company, check if it correctly reflects the final meter reading and your actual move-out date to ensure that you weren’t overcharged for any days of service after the move;)
- Take a reading of your new property’s gas and electricity meters on move-in day – This will ensure that you won’t be overcharged on your first bill.
When you know how to change utilities when moving house (just follow every step in the detailed moving utilities checklist above), you will be able not only to ensure a smooth and timely transfer, but also to save some money in the process. Good luck!