Getting Connected. What to Know About Utility Options.

When moving to a new home, it can be easy to get caught up with the lease-signing, planning, packing, and moving.  But if you aren’t careful, you might run into unforeseen obstacles.  

To help your move go smoothly, be sure to arrange for your utilities to be connected in your new home. Renters should also check with their landlords to see what utilities residents are required to connect and which ones are provided. Landlords and management companies, like United Realty, may require proof of connection before you can move in.

Are Utilities Essential?

Some utilities must be connected for a home to be occupied, such as electricity, water, sewer, and trash. Other utilities may not be required, but could still be considered essential for everyday life, depending on the home. Finally, there are services that may be considered “utilities” that provide additional amenities such as phone, cable, and internet.

Does Rent Include Utilities?

Renters should check their lease contracts or ask their landlords which utilities come included in their home. This can vary widely from “All Bills Paid” to homes that don’t come with any utilities provided. United Realty manages many different styles of homes, (apartments, multi-family, single-family) which differ with respect to utilities included, depending on the way the property was established and what utility connections exist. For homes in the Bryan/College Station (BCS) area, the utility providers typically know what your bill will include.

How Do I Connect Utilities?

First, you should make sure you have a signed lease. Most utility providers won’t allow you to connect services to a home unless your name is on the lease. Once your lease is signed, you can contact the utility company to set up your account. Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) and College Station Utilities (CSU) are the main utility providers in the BCS area, where United Realty operates. Atmos Energy provides natural gas to homes BCS. If you are moving into a home in the BCS area with gas appliances, you will need to set up an account with both your main utility provider and Atmos. Note that some utility companies may require a deposit, but some offer to waive this with an auto-draft agreement.

How Much Do Utilities Cost?

Utility costs vary widely depending on the size, age, and construction of a home in addition to usage. Utility bills may also include non-utility costs that the city, county, or state imposes which are allowed by law to be passed to utility consumers. For questions about this, contact your utility provider. Some companies offer budget billing to customers with good payment history, which can help balance out the extreme costs of summer and winter peak seasons. Renters can save money on their utilities by setting their AC to less-extreme temperatures during peak times of the day and during peak seasons. Unplugging unused electronics such as desktop computers, gaming consoles, and televisions, could also help reduce power consumption.

Can I Choose a Different Provider?

Some cities may have multiple electric and/or water utility providers from which to choose. Renters should consult with their landlords and lease contracts to see if they are allowed to shop around for utilities. United Realty uses a lease which allows tenants to switch to another utility provider but requires that the tenant pay any fees associated with the switch (both to the new company and back to the old company once the tenant moves out). Bryan and College Station, however, are covered exclusively by BTU and CSU, respectively; there is currently no competition for necessary utilities (electricity, water, sewer, trash).

When Should I Set Up, Connect, or Disconnect Utilities?

Tenants should look up the utility providers in the area to which they’re moving and see what requirements and how far in advance they must set up their utility accounts. Generally, it is much easier and makes the moving process go more smoothly to request connection and disconnects 2-4 weeks in advance. Once you get confirmation from the utility provider that your request has been processed and your account is created, you’re good to go!