How to set up utilities in your new home

You're getting ready to move into your new home. Whether you're renting your first apartment or house or have just bought your property, one of the first steps is setting up your home utilities before moving day arrives. In most communities, the process is straightforward, if not a little time-consuming - you'll need to allow a few days for a service provider to process your request and set up services - but after that, you'll be comfortable in your new place.

Below you'll find the basics of setting up your utilities.

What are utilities?

Utilities in a home include electricity, gas, water, sewer, Internet, telephone, cable TV, security systems and, in some areas, trash collection. These essentials are the things you need in daily life to ensure you have a working, comfortable, livable space.

How to find service providers

Research the various providers in your area online and by speaking to your real estate agent, landlord, property management company or the previous homeowner. Usually there will be only one provider option for electricity, gas, water, sewer and trash collection because these are public utilities. You'll likely have multiple choices for security, Internet, cable TV and telephone services. You can learn more from different resources, including by searching the state-by-state database of the American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers, and finding competitive rates on these before setting up utilities in your new home.

How to connect utilities

If you're in the same city or service area and already have an account with the local utility company, they will likely be able to transfer service to your new home and keep your account open. Let them know the service end date at the old home and the start date at the new home.

When it's time to turn on the utilities at your new place, a technician will stop by to take care of the task. You likely won't need to be home while your basic utilities are set up, but check with the company beforehand in case the technician needs access. Internet and cable installers may require you to be home to let a tech inside to work.

If you are a brand new customer and you haven't set up utilities before, call the local utility company or visit their office to find out what they need from you before they connect services. You may be able to take care of this online, but if you have questions, it's easy to get a straightforward answer from an employee.

If you're in a rental, you can also ask your landlord how to set up electricity in the apartment or house. He or she will let you know about the electric hookup and how it works when paying bills each month. In some instances, tenants may share utility costs in your building. If some utilities are included in your rent, ask about turning on and paying for those that aren't part of your monthly payment.

Allow at least a few days' notice to turn on electricity and other services. During busy cycles, such as at the beginning and end of the month, utility companies may need some time to stop by.

What are utility bills?

Your utility bills reflect the amount of money you owe each month, and they vary based on your usage of water, electricity and other utilities. The utility company may do a credit check on you before you can obtain service; if you don't have good credit, you might have to put down a deposit before the company starts providing services under your name.

You should receive utilities bills every month or every other month. To stay in good standing with these companies, always pay your bills on time. Consider creating automatic payments online that deduct from your bank account.

Setting up utilities is one of many responsibilities for renters and property owners. But even before you have your utilities set up, one major step in feeling comfortable in your new place is purchasing renters' insurance or homeowners' insurance. It'll give you peace of mind and protect you against potential losses.

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