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How to Set Up Utilities When You Move

A service worker does a final meter reading as he sets up utilities in a new home
powerofforever / Getty Images

So you’ve picked out the perfect new home, started packing your belongings, and hired a moving company. What’s left on your moving checklist? Moving your utilities!

Don’t forget – just like your boxes and furniture, you also have to bring your services to your new home. Forgetting to transfer, cancel, or turn on utilities could leave you with stress on Moving Day, or worse, expensive past-due bills.

It only takes a few phone calls and a little bit of organization to quickly and efficiently check “set up utilities” off of your list.

One Month Before Moving Day: Get Organized

About three to four weeks before the big day, you’ll want to start thinking about what utilities you’ll need to shut off in your old place and turn on in your new home. It may seem daunting but with a little bit of planning and calling around, you can go into Moving Day confident that your basic services will be taken care of. Think through these tips to get you started:

Make your utilities checklists:

The easiest way to keep track of the various services is by making two checklists — one for your old house and one for your new. The two lists should have identical categories for each service but depending on whether you transfer your utilities or change them, the providers listed in each category could change.

Make sure each checklist is ordered by priority. For example, having power and water is a must on Moving Day. Setting up internet and home security beforehand is smart, but not vital. Think through what will make you and your family most comfortable in your first few days post-move.

Include these basic utilities on your list:

  • Water and sewer
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Trash pickup and recycling
  • Internet
  • Cable or Satellite TV
  • Landline telephone
  • Home security

Your checklists should include the category, provider, contact information, and your action (whether you need to transfer, cancel, or set up service). To get an idea of what we’re talking about, here are the beginnings of a sample checklist for a mover in Charlotte, NC:

Utility Provider Contact Info Action
Water & Sewer Charlotte Water 704-336-7600 Transfer
Electricity Duke Energy 800-653-5307 Transfer
Gas Piedmont Natural Gas 704-525-5585 Transfer

Know your providers:

For the “action” part of your checklist, you’ll have to do some research. You’ll want to know what utilities you can keep and what new services you’ll need to set up. For example, your water and sewer service is often provided by a utility owned by the city or town you’re moving to. If you’re moving within the same city, you can transfer your water service to your new address. If you’re moving to a different city/state, you will have to determine who your new provider is.

The best way to determine which utilities service your area is to google “utilities in [your new county/city].” Because city or municipal governments are often in charge of basic services like water, sewer, garbage pickup, and recycling, their websites will most likely list the numbers you’ll need to call.

You can also ask your real estate agent or soon-to-be neighbors about the utility companies in your area.

One thing to remember when researching utilities: Some states have deregulated electricity and natural gas services. This means you may have a choice of multiple providers and service plans, allowing you to shop around for a new provider. If this is the case where you live, make sure to compare offerings in your area.

For services like internet, TV, and home security, moving is the perfect time to re-examine your current provider and consider if you want to continue their service or try something new.

To help you think through your service options, here are a few MYMOVE resources: 

Transferring utilities when renting:

If you’re moving into a rental apartment or home, the leasing office or landlord should be able to provide you with a list of which utilities service your new place. Remember to ask your landlord if utilities are included in your rent. If services like water, gas, and electricity are included, chances are you’re not responsible for setting them up.

If they aren’t included in your rent, make sure to ask your leasing office or landlord if they mandate or prefer certain utility companies.

Two Weeks Before Moving Day: Contact Utility Companies

By this point, you should know which utilities you’ll need to transfer, cancel, or change. Now it’s time to contact utility companies to talk about service. You can do this online or over the phone.

You’ll need to keep this basic information handy:

  • Account information and passwords if you’ve used the utility provider before
  • Home addresses — both old and new
  • Social security number
  • Payment information (if you’re setting up a new service or need to settle outstanding bills)
  • Set move-in and move-out dates

Note: Your Social Security Number is part of your application because utility companies want to check your credit history — specifically your utility payment history (which affects your credit score). The better your payment history, the easier it will be for you to get services set up.

Here are some questions you should ask the utility service provider when discussing service:

  • What are the charges for canceling or starting service?
  • Will someone need to be present at the home when utilities are switched on or off?
  • If you paid a deposit when starting service, how do you get that money back?
  • Do you have any outstanding bills that require payment?
  • How should you deal with leftover equipment? (Think: A cable box or internet modem)

Make sure to pay any outstanding balances:

You don’t want any overdue bills before you move, especially if you’re canceling the service. Having outstanding balances could hurt your credit score, so you want to make sure everything is paid off before Moving Day.

Be sure to give your new address to the utility company for any final bills or notices. While you’re in the process of transferring utilities, complete the necessary change-of-address forms with USPS® in case anything does get sent to your old home. You don’t want to miss out on important statements get charged late fees.

There’s also a chance you could get a refund for services not used. Keep in mind that your utilities could be prorated, meaning that you only pay up until the final day of use. When you go to shut off utilities at your old place, the company could end up owing you money.

Week of Move: Do a Final Meter Reading

In the days leading up to Moving Day, arrange a final reading of the gas, electric, and water meters to get the most accurate usage date for your last bill. Keep a copy of this reading and compare it to your final bill. When you receive the final invoice from the utility, check to be sure it reflects both the final reading and your actual move-out date to ensure you weren’t overcharged for any days of service post-move. Having the final reading on hand could help you if you need to dispute unexpected bills after you’ve moved.

Moving Day: Make Sure Utilities Are Successfully Turned On/Off

Checking to make sure your utilities in your new home are set up is easy enough. Go around and flip light switches and turn on faucets. If you have light and see running water, you’re all set!

You won’t know about garbage pickup or recycling until collection day, but if cans are still full after you put them out on the curb, chances are your service wasn’t set up correctly.

If you find that your utilities aren’t working properly, make sure to contact your service provider immediately so they can send someone to take care of it. Trust us, you don’t want to be without running water after a full day of sweating and hauling furniture!

You can ensure that your services were shut off at your old place by checking your account status online or calling your former provider. Again, have that final meter reading handy in case you need to dispute any final charges.

Tips to save money and avoid stress

The process of switching your utilities to a new home isn’t complicated, but there are actually some ways to make it go even more smoothly – and save yourself some money in the process. Here are our top tips:

Moving is a good time to do a gut-check on the utilities you currently pay for.

Is there anything you can cut out of your monthly expenses by opting out of a utility completely or settling for a lower package? Does your internet package meet your family’s needs? Are you still happy with your home security provider?

Or maybe it’s a good time to add services you didn’t have before. Do you want that cable subscription now that you’re settled into a new home? Maybe you just moved into an area that offers fiber internet and you can’t wait to get connected.

Take a look at your monthly budget and shop around. Moving is the perfect time to reevaluate your needs and, perhaps, change providers.

Moving is also an ideal time to ask a utility provider for a discount! 

Does the preferred provider in certain condo communities offer a deal for new residents? Are there any specials for new customers? Will they waive certain fees if you sign up for auto-bill-pay or paperless billing? Many providers have these offers available, but they aren’t always advertised. It never hurts to ask since you’re already on the line!

Save yourself a headache on Moving Day by timing your utility cancellations and start-ups just right. 

Essentials, like power and water, should be kept on at your old place until after the moving van pulls away, and pre-established at your new place by the time you arrive. No one wants to be finishing up packing in the dark, or unpacking with no air conditioning!

The non-essentials, including television service, can wait a day or two for installation. No matter how much you love your TV, we recommend you don’t schedule installation on the day of your move-in — it would be such a hassle to be stuck waiting for and working around a service provider when you’re also managing a moving truck.

Frequently asked questions for utilities

Can I keep my same utilities and other services when I move?

Maybe. It depends on whether you’re still in the same service area for your previous provider. If you’re buying a house, your real estate agent can tell you the providers in your area — or it is likely included in your closing paperwork. If you’re renting, your landlord can tell you.

How much does it cost to transfer utilities? 

That depends on the utility and the service provider. Some utility companies may have a transfer fee, a processing fee, or may charge for a new service setup. Make sure to ask what charges are associated with installing the utility in your home when you talk with a representative. You can try to look up an answer on their website, but this may be a time when getting someone on the phone is preferable.

Will I have to pay a deposit when I transfer my utilities?

If you’re keeping your same providers, probably not. If you’re signing up for new service, you might – depending on your credit and other factors. Make sure you have a credit card or other payment method in hand when calling to set up a utility service.

How do I transfer utilities to a roommate? 

You can transfer your utility bill to your roommate or another member of the household by contacting your provider. Like anything with utilities, you’ll want to do this as soon as possible to avoid a mix up when it comes time to pay the bill. Remember that whoever’s name is on the bill will be the one charged for the service.

The person requesting that the bill be put under their name will need to show personal documentation to the utility company — usually, some proof of identification (i.e. ID, passport, birth certificate) and proof of the billing address (i.e. the lease agreement with the person’s name and new address on it or an addressed piece of mail).

The Bottom Line

Setting up utilities is a necessary to-do item on your moving checklist. The last thing you want on Moving Day is to settle into a new place that doesn’t have electricity or running water. But setting up service requires time and planning. Make it easy on yourself — start early and follow MYMOVE’s simple steps. You’ll be checking off this task in no time.

This post was originally published on May 10, 2018. Updated on August 22, 2019.

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