How to Transfer Utilities and What You Need to Start, Stop Services
If you’re close to your move date, you’ll want to know what you need to set up your utility services and learn how to transfer utilities before you get to your new home. Like everything else on your moving checklist, staying organized is key. We put together this handy guide to help you successfully learn how to transfer your utilities — so there’s one less thing to worry about during your move.
TL;DR for how to transfer utilities
- Check if the HOA fees cover utilities
- Pay outstanding balances and return equipment
- Schedule final meter reading
- Confirm utility transfer
- Audit your new place
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. Start early when transferring your utilities
You’ve heard that the early bird gets the worm? Well, the early planner gets their utilities on time.
Start the transfer process 2 to 4 weeks before your move. This will give you plenty of time for any in-person appointments you might need to transfer your utilities. This tip is even more important if you’re moving over the summer. With 62% of Americans moving homes between May and September, utility companies are the busiest during the summer months.
2. List out your current utilities and account numbers
Before you start calling, make a list of all the utility companies you have accounts with. Jot down their phone numbers and your account numbers with each to make life easier when you call to transfer your utilities. These are the most common services you will have to transfer:
Internet/TV (shop and compare internet providers at your new address)
3. Find utility providers in your area
Part of knowing how to transfer your utilities is learning which companies will be available in your new area. Many providers only service certain towns or counties, so be sure to do some research through the local city or county government website, or check with your property manager or real estate agent to find eligible providers.
If you are staying within the same zip code, you might be able to transfer your utilities with your existing providers. In this case, you can usually update your address online or with a quick call to the utility company.
4. Call utility companies
First, check each company’s website to see how to transfer your utilities online. If they don’t offer online transfers, give them a call to set up your shut-off and set-up appointments.
You need to start contacting every provider individually to let them know you’re moving to a new place. It’s best to contact each provider at least 2-3 weeks in advance. For utility services like cable and internet services that need an installation appointment, we recommend calling a month beforehand. Most companies require someone over the age of 18 to be home for these appointments, so make sure you plan ahead. Have your account number, your shut-off and activation dates, and your new address handy when you call.
Consider requesting a date for disconnecting your services, especially gas and electric, a day or two after you move or on closing day if you are selling the home. This will help ensure your utilities are fully functioning as you move out. For instance, the lights and AC/heater will still be working, just in case you have to return to the house to fetch something left behind.
And be sure to have your electricity, gas and water services turned on in time for move-in day. If your new location is close to the previous one, consider scheduling your utility connections for the day before your move. This way, you can go ahead and turn on the HVAC system, if moving in extreme weather.
Take note of who you spoke to and the date you called them just in case anything goes wrong. If they cannot find a record of your call, for example, you’ll have some facts to help clear up any discrepancies.
5. Have your documents ready for water and waste removal services
Water and waste removal are usually provided through the city or county. If you are renting, you won’t need to worry about registering these services yourself — they will be covered by your property management company. However, if you own your new home, either you will probably have the option to call to set up service or you may have to take a trip to the town hall to set up these services.
If you have the option to call, be prepared to provide the service address, the billing address, a phone number and the start or end date for the service.
If you need to go to the town hall, there are a few documents that you should prepare to have on hand, as well as throughout your move:
- Proof of identity – Valid driver’s license, passport, alien registration card, state-issued photo ID
- Proof of residence at your new address – Lease/rental agreement, mortgage/proof of homeownership
- Completed service application – Check with your city/county for their form
Use this list as a general guideline, and be sure to check with your city/county for their specific requirements.
We recommend arranging for the water and sewer service to start on moving day (or closing day, if selling) by getting in touch with your city’s public utility office a few weeks in advance. If you are moving to a new city and have to install a new water or waste disposal service, it’s best to ask your realtor and the previous homeowners for a rough estimate of the expenses.
Bear in mind that water bills vary by city and location. Therefore, for budget purposes, do not assume that water and waste disposal bills will cost the same as they did in your previous home.
6. Check if the HOA fees cover utilities
If you are moving to a community with a homeowners’ association (HOA), you might find that your HOA fees cover basic utilities. This often includes water, sewerage, gas, and waste disposal. In a high-rise apartment, the HOA fees may also include shared HVAC systems that cover the whole building. Nowadays, some HOAs also collaborate with cable and internet providers and use HOA fees to pay for service for the entire community.
HOA fees tend to vary considerably, depending on the property or community. The charges range anywhere between $100 and $1,000 every month. On average, the HOA monthly fee tends to be between $200 and $300. The general rule that applies here is that the more services and amenities, the higher the charges.
No matter the cost, paying one bill to the HOA every month rather than several separate bills to different utility companies will definitely make bill payments a simpler and stress-free process. Plus, you’ll have fewer monthly bills to keep track of.
7. Pay balances and return equipment
Packing your electronics but not sure what to do with your internet service equipment? It’s best to check with your internet provider because many of them will want their hardware back. They usually accept returned equipment through UPS or in-store drop-offs. Some internet providers will send you pre-paid packaging for you to use to send your rented equipment back.
Now is also the best time to pay off any remaining balances you have with your utility companies. Moving out without paying up could hurt your credit down the line and even prevent the sale of your home (if you own it). So it’s important that you pay any unpaid bills before moving.
When calling the utility service providers, simply inquire whether you currently owe anything. If so, make sure to settle these overdue balances before moving day. Settling due payments not just saves you from late fees but also means a clean slate and a fresh beginning in your new house.
8. Schedule final meter reading before transferring utilities
Before moving out, have your utility service providers visit your home and carry out a final reading of the gas, electricity, and water meters. You don’t want to get stuck paying for services that you didn’t use, right? So be sure to have your meters read right before they are shut off. This way, if there are any discrepancies over your last bill, you will have documentation confirming your shut-off date.
We strongly recommend keeping a copy of the meter reading reports for your records, just in case you get any unanticipated bills after moving.
9. Confirm the transfer of utilities
Showing up on moving day to a dark home with no power or no water is not fun. Call each provider a few days before your move to confirm that they have you all set up and ready to go. Be sure to have your list of names and account numbers nearby for reference, just in case.
It does not hurt to double-check and confirm stop/start dates with each provider. Along with that, make sure that all of your contact and billing info is correct as well.
10. Carry out an energy audit of your new house
Once you have moved into your new house, consider scheduling a technician to carry out a thorough home energy audit. This audit will notify you if you need to improve the insulation, ductwork, or HVAC system in your new home.
Basically, an energy audit informs a homeowner how and where the air is leaking into or out of the home. If you observe any air leaks, consider sealing them by either putting a sweep at the base of external doors or by applying caulk around the drafty windows.
FAQs about how to transfer utilities when moving
How much do I have to pay to transfer utilities when moving out?
Different utility companies and service providers have different costs. Some companies may even charge a reconnection or transfer fee. It’s best to directly ask the utility company if there are any costs and charges for transferring utilities. However, you may have to pay a fee for getting the services back on, if the utilities are completely disconnected.
How can renters transfer utilities?
Before you get in touch with your utility company, we recommend looking at your lease agreement to see which utilities you’re responsible for. Typically, landlords cover some of the utilities while others often include utility costs such as garbage, water, and sewerage in the rent price. This is because it can be difficult to calculate individual utility consumption for these services. However, that’s not always the case. If you are responsible for transferring certain utilities, it’s best to directly ask your landlord for their preferred utility service providers.
I am selling my house. Can the title company transfer utilities?
No. The title company can only flag an unpaid balance. They won’t transfer the utilities. Basically, the title company performs a municipal lien search and they may find any unpaid utility balances from local governments (such as a water bill). This overdue balance could create a lien on the property and delay the transfer of title, which will eventually delay the closing.
Who is responsible for transferring utilities – the buyer or the seller?
Usually, the seller has to pay for utilities until the closing day. Once the buyer acquires homeownership, utilities are transferred as well. Now the buyer is responsible for paying all the utility bills. Both parties (and their realtors) should team up to figure out when the new homeowners will transfer the utility services over to their name. The objective should be to keep the utilities running the whole time without any service disruption. Sellers should provide service providers with a forwarding address to obtain final utility bills.
Can I have two utility connections when moving, one in each home?
Absolutely. If you own multiple houses, you can have utility services in all homes under the same name but with different addresses.
Now that you know how to transfer your utilities, check out our life hacks to help you save money on those energy bills.