A Helpful Guide to Transferring Utilities When Moving

Moving into a new house or apartment without electricity and water stinks. Unfortunately, you may have to endure these inconveniences (and others) if you forget to transfer or schedule utility services. With so much going on, it’s easy to do.

You’ll need to gather your utility provider’s information, research utility providers in your new service area, review contracts, and more.

To make the process easier, this post will focus on helpful tips for canceling, transferring, and setting up new utilities quickly and efficiently.

Before reading on, check out these helpful resources:

  • Moving Cost Calculator – Still in the beginning stages of your move? Our moving cost calculator is the perfect pre-move budgeting tool.
  • Best Interstate Movers – For a stress-free move, hire a top-rated long-distance moving company with verified customer reviews.
  • Comprehensive Moving Checklist  – Moving involves lots of little details. Our complete moving checklist can help ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

How much do utilities cost across the country?

Quick answer: about $200 per month (total).

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that the average monthly electricity bill in the United States is approximately $112.

According to statista.com, residents of Hawaii pay the most for electricity, while residents of North Dakota enjoy the lowest rates. Don’t forget to factor in utility costs when preparing your pre-move budget.

How to switch utilities when moving

It’s wise to start thinking about utilities shortly after vetting movers and making a moving checklist. We’ve broken the process down into the following 10 steps:

1. Gather your utility provider’s information

First, prepare a list of your current providers for the following utility services:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Water and sewer
  • Internet and cable
  • Phone
  • Trash

Don’t forget about pool and lawn care services and professional dog walkers. Include the following information for each company:

  • Mailing addresses (you may need to include a specific department when sending correspondence by mail)
  • Phone numbers (general and department specific)
  • Email addresses
  • Your account number
  • When your final payment is due

This information can be found on old bills, electronic invoices, or online.

2. Consider whether you’ll be canceling or transferring services

If you’re moving locally, you may be able to transfer many services. When moving out of state, you’ll probably need to cancel some of your current services and reschedule them with new companies.

If there’s a long-distance move in your future, make sure you know how to legally establish residency in your new state.

3. Research utility providers in your new area

Begin researching new utility providers at least a month before your move date.

Keep in mind that water and electricity (and sometimes waste removal) may be handled by town, city, and county governments. However, you may have a number of phone, cable, and internet options.

Finding new providers is usually as easy as doing quick internet searches, and it’s always a good idea to ask friends, family members, coworkers, and real estate agents for recommendations. In addition, you’ll want to spend ample time reading online reviews and checking each company’s status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

It’s worth noting that homeowners association (HOA) fees cover basic utilities in some neighborhoods and retirement communities.

4. Review your phone, internet, and cable contracts

Many of us use the same cable, internet, and phone providers year after year and assume we’re getting a good deal. However, moving is a great time to review your contracts.

You may find that you can save big bucks by using another provider or switching to a different plan with the same company. In some cases, you may want to cancel altogether, like if you’re paying for a premium cable package but have little time to watch television.

5. Contact prospective utility companies

You can find nearly everything you need to know about utility companies online, but it never hurts to speak to another human being.

Either way, you’ll want to find out the following:

  • When you can schedule a service activation
  • What documentation you’ll need
  • How much each service costs and what packages/options are available
  • Which methods of payment are accepted
  • Whether you’ll need to make a deposit

You’ll generally need the following documentation when scheduling new services:

  • Completed application for service (this can often be done online)
  • Valid driver’s license, Social Security card, or state-issued ID (with photo)
  • Lease or rental agreement or home purchase documents to prove residency

6. Pay off and close your old accounts

Switching utilities when moving is critical because even small unpaid balances can result in extra fees and big headaches down the road. Worse yet, utility companies often report delinquent customers to collection agencies, and unpaid balances can also affect your credit score. In some cases, they can make it difficult to set up utilities with different providers.

Always get a final invoice showing a zero balance when settling and closing each account.

7. Transfer or schedule new services as early as possible

Once you’ve identified which utility companies you’ll use, contact each to make the necessary arrangements. For some services like gas and home security systems, a technician may need to come to your home.

Scheduling can be difficult during peak times, so don’t wait until the last minute. When canceling cable and internet services, you may need to return equipment like routers and cable boxes before settling your accounts and getting your deposits back. Equipment returns can usually be done in person or by mail.

For gas, water, and electricity, it’s a good idea to schedule the following:

  • Shut off for the day after you move out of your old residence
  • Activation for the day before you move into your new home or apartment

Power and water are vital when moving into or out of a home or apartment, and nobody wants to pay for utilities in an old residence.

8. Change your address with the USPS

It’s important that old and new service providers have your current contact information. This is especially true if you’re waiting for a final bill from an old utility company. Remember, unpaid bills (like ones that get lost in the mail) and outstanding balances can come back to haunt you. Thankfully, changing your address with the USPS is a piece of cake. You can even select the date you’d like the Post Office to start forwarding your mail to your new address, so there’s no point in waiting.

9. Verify that each utility service is scheduled

Most utility service providers confirm services and dates for new customers, but it pays to be proactive. Make entries on your moving checklist to verify services a week or two before your move date. A few minutes on the phone may uncover issues and help ensure everything goes as planned. Get confirmation in digital or hard-copy form, and check that names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and service dates are correct.

10. Check your meters before moving out

Schedule final meter readings for gas, water, and electricity before moving out, and don’t forget to take pictures of the meters for your records. They’ll come in handy if you receive an unexpected and inaccurate bill from an old utility company.

Tips for saving money on utilities

The following tips can help reduce runaway utility costs:

  • Air dry dishes and clothes
  • Have “smart” thermostats installed
  • Turn off lights, heaters, and air conditioners when nobody’s home
  • Wash clothes during non-peak times
  • Take shorter and colder showers
  • Replace leaky or inefficient toilets, faucets, and showerheads

Consider an energy audit

Energy audits are nothing like IRS audits. Instead, energy audits can help families reduce energy consumption and save money by identifying the following problems:

  • Poorly insulated areas
  • Inefficient windows, doors, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters
  • Safety issues with gas, electric, mechanical, and ventilation systems

Upgrades can be wise investments because they make your new residence safer and more valuable. In addition, you may be eligible for valuable energy efficiency incentives for even more savings.

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

What are Time of Use (TOU) rates?

In some areas, electricity rates increase during peak times (like between 6 and 9 PM) when everybody is home from work and school. On the flip side, rates may drop significantly during periods of low demand, like early in the morning and late at night.

Will I be charged additional fees to transfer or reconnect my utilities?

Some utility companies charge transfer fees, but they’re generally relatively inexpensive.

Can unpaid utility bills result in a lien on a property?

Outstanding utility bills can result in liens being placed on properties. This can delay closings and transfer of titles if the issues aren’t found and resolved during initial searches.

How can renters transfer utilities?

Renters can often transfer and reschedule utility services directly through their landlord. If not, the process is similar to what it is for homeowners.

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