How to Set Up Utilities When Renting An Apartment: A Complete Guide

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How to Set Up Utilities When Renting

Moving into a new rental comes with a laundry list of must-dos, and right at the top is setting up your utilities. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you figure out which utility services you’ll need at your new home, and how to make sure you’ll be connected come move-in day. And if you’re short on time, click below for a mobile-friendly checklist of general steps to follow to set up utilities with ease leading up to your move.

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Here’s what we’ll discuss:

What utilities do I need to set up at my rental?

Here’s a breakdown of typical utility services, plus how much you can expect to pay for utility bills:

Electricity

From powering your lights and appliances, to pretty much everything else that plugs in at your place, electricity is a crucial utility to set up in advance of your move. 

The average monthly electric bill for a one bedroom apartment in the US ranges from roughly $50 to $90, depending on where you live, according to Inspire Clean Energy.

Natural gas

If your rental uses natural gas, it’s usually for heating, cooking, or hot water. Like electricity, setting up gas involves contacting a utility provider servicing your area. 

Natural gas is known for being an efficient and cost-effective heating source, with the average monthly gas bill in the US running around $60, but it tends to vary with seasonal use.

Water and sewage

When you move into a new place, setting up water and sewage is essential. This utility provides you with clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing, and that wastewater is properly removed from your property. 

Typically, your local municipality or a designated water utility provider manages these services.

Americans on average spend roughly $50 per month on water, and $17 per month on sewage services, according to a 2023 Annual Utility Rate Index conducted by Bluefield Research. Rather than getting a separate bill for these services, water and sewage might be factored into your monthly rent. 

Trash Collection

Regular trash pickup helps keep your living space clean and tidy. 

Trash collection services exist for garbage to be regularly picked up from your rental property. This service might be managed by your municipality or a private company, depending on where you live.

It usually costs around $20 to $80 per month for a trash collection service, depending on where you live, but the payment might be included in your rent.

Internet and cable

In today’s connected world, setting up internet—often including WiFi—and cable TV is almost as essential as utilities like water and electricity. 

You can typically choose from available providers, often based on contracts with your rental unit or personal preference for services like high-speed internet or extensive cable packages.

US households spend roughly $50 to $100 per month for internet services on average, and around $20 to $150 for monthly cable TV services.

Security systems

For added safety, you might consider installing a security system in your new home. These systems can range from basic burglar alarms to advanced systems that include cameras and remote monitoring. Each of these services plays a vital role in making your rental a comfortable, functional, and safe place to live. 

It typically costs $200 to $600 to install a home security system, but there are additional costs to factor in—like activation fees and monitoring services fees. Plus, you’ll need the approval of your landlord.

When should I set up utilities for my new apartment?

set up your utilities before your move in date to make sure everything is ready come move-in day

Whether you’re switching rentals or it’s your first time renting, consider following this utility setup timeline to line up all of your services without a hitch:

  • After signing your lease: Chat with your new landlord to get the scoop on what utilities you need to handle. 
  • One month before moving out: If you’re moving apartments, give your current utility companies a heads up about your move-out date.
  • Three weeks before move-in day: Start looking up who provides utilities at your new place—which might be different from what’s at your current place—and call utility companies to see what you need to do to get services started.
  • Two weeks before moving in: Reach out to set up accounts with your new utility companies. Fill out any required forms and set up appointments for installation.
  • One week before moving in: Double-check that everything is scheduled for setup.
  • Moving day: Make sure all your services are up and running.

It’s important to understand your responsibilities and rights when it comes to utilities that are outlined in your lease agreement. Carefully read your lease and talk to your landlord or property manager directly about whether any utilities are included in your monthly rent, or if there are preferred providers that they recommend you sign up with. 

How can I set up apartment utilities at my new address?

Once you know what utilities you need and have gathered information on the providers available, it’s time to get everything hooked up. Here’s how to set up each utility service at your new rental:

Electricity

To get your electricity up and running, first choose a provider if your area allows multiple options. Then, contact them either online or by phone to start a new service account. 

You’ll typically need to share details with the electricity provider like:

Full Name and Contact Information: This includes your first and last name, phone number, and email address. They use this information to contact you about your account and service details.

  • Address: The exact location where you need the electricity service activated. This is crucial as it determines not only where to direct the service but also which local rates and regulations apply.
  • Start date for service: The date you want your electricity to be activated, typically your move-in day or just before.
  • Proof of residency or occupancy: Some providers may ask for proof that you are living or going to live at the address where you want service. This could be a lease agreement, a mortgage statement, or a letter from a landlord.
  • Deposit (if required): Based on the results of your credit check, you might need to pay a deposit. This is a common practice to secure the account against unpaid bills.
  • Previous utility information: If you’ve had electricity service in your name before, some providers might ask for details of your previous account, especially if you’re transferring service or have outstanding balances that need to be cleared.
  • Identification: A valid driver’s license, state ID, or another form of government-issued photo ID to verify your identity.

The provider might need to schedule a time to turn on the service, but often, if the previous tenant had electricity, it’s just a switch of account names, not a physical setup.

Natural gas

If your new place uses gas, setting it up is similar to electricity. Contact your chosen gas company with your move-in details and personal information. They might need to inspect the gas lines and appliances before starting service, especially if the gas has been off for a while. 

Like with electricity, you may need to provide a deposit based on your credit.

Water and sewage

Usually, you don’t have many choices for water and sewage services as they are often provided by municipal services. Contact the local water authority to start service. This might require filling out a form and providing proof of residency and ID. 

They’ll tell you if there’s any need for an in-person visit, but typically, this service can be activated over the phone or online.

Trash collection

Trash service might be covered by your landlord, but if it’s not, you’ll need to set it up. Often, the local municipality handles trash collection, so contact the city or town hall to find out how to subscribe or confirm service. In some areas, private companies manage waste, and you may have options to choose from based on different service levels or recycling capabilities.

Internet and cable

Choosing an internet and cable provider can be based on speed, service quality, and package deals. Once you’ve chosen a provider, book an installation appointment. 

Many providers offer self-installation kits if your home is pre-wired. Otherwise, they’ll send a technician to set up the necessary equipment. 

Security systems

First, choose a security system that fits your needs—options range from basic alarm systems to comprehensive smart home security setups that include cameras and remote monitoring. Contact the security company to discuss your options and arrange for installation. Some systems are designed for easy DIY installation, while others might require professional setup.

When setting up a security system, remember to check with your landlord if modifications are allowed, especially for systems that require wiring or permanent changes. 

Additionally, if you install some basic security devices in your apartment, like a fire alarm and a burglar alarm, be sure to let your insurer know. Since these devices mitigate the possibility of future losses, you could qualify for a discount on your renters insurance.

Are utilities included in rent?

Some utilities like trash collection and sewage are often handled by landlords

Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t—it really depends on your lease agreement. When utilities are included in your rent price, it means your monthly rent payment covers all or some of your utility costs. 

This setup is super convenient because it simplifies budgeting and reduces the number of bills you have to remember each month. On the flip side, you’ll want to double-check which utilities are covered and if there are any usage limits or stipulations noted by your landlord or property manager.

Pros of having utilities included in rent:

  • Simpler budgeting: One payment covers both rent and utilities.
  • Less hassle: Fewer accounts and due dates to keep track of.
  • Potential savings: Great if you consume a typical amount of utilities, especially in areas with high utility rates.

Cons of having utilities included in rent:

  • Less control: You might have limited choice over providers and plans.
  • Potential overuse by neighbors: If utilities are communal, heavy use by others could impact overall building costs and conditions.
  • No incentive to save: Since the cost is fixed, you might not be motivated to conserve resources, which isn’t great for the planet or for changing future rates.

5 tips for renters looking to reduce monthly utility bills

Want to keep your bills lower and give the planet a little TLC? Here are some savvy yet simple strategies for shaving off those extra dollars from your monthly utility expenses. 

And no, we’re not just telling you to turn off the lights.

1. Use smart power strips

Plug into savings by using smart power strips for your electronics. These devices range on average from about $20 to $45. They cut power off when gadgets are not in use, tackling those sneaky “vampire charges” from devices like TVs and computers that draw power even when turned off.

2. Install water-saving showerheads

A quick shower can turn into a costly cascade if you’re not careful. Swap out your old shower head for a water-efficient model, which can start at about $15 and can go up to $165 or more. 

They use less water per minute, meaning every drop counts—and costs—less. (Just be sure to check with your landlord before making any changes to the apartment.)

3. Opt for energy-efficient lighting

It’s time to see your home in a new light—energy-efficient LEDs or CFLs to be precise. These bulbs use about 75% less energy than the old-school incandescent ones and last significantly longer, brightening your space without burning your budget.

4. Maintain your HVAC system

Keeping your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in top shape isn’t just about comfort—it’s about cost too. Regularly replace or clean filters to ensure efficient operation and consider a programmable thermostat to better control heating and cooling expenses.

5. Seal windows and doors

Feel a draft? Sealing gaps and cracks in windows and doors can dramatically improve your home’s insulation. This simple fix can keep the warm or cool air in, reducing the need for constant heating or air conditioning and keeping your utility bills in check.

Also keep in mind that during the hot summer months, running the air conditioning could account for about 50% of your electricity bill. Check out our tips on how to keep your apartment cool in the summer, without AC.

Before we go…

Setting up utilities in your new apartment can be a headache, but safeguarding your stuff with renters insurance by Lemonade is a breeze. 

Lemonade Renters has your back when back luck strikes—like if someone swipes your bike, or if your stuff goes up in flames. Click below to start your free quote.

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FAQs

What should I do if my utility service isn't activated on my move-in day?

Contact your utility provider immediately to report the issue and confirm the activation details you provided, such as the service address and start date. Ask for the earliest possible resolution and if necessary, request temporary solutions if available.

Can I change utility providers if I am unhappy with the current service or pricing?

Yes, you can switch utility providers if other companies service your area. Check your current contract for any termination fees or conditions, and compare offers from alternative providers to ensure you get better service or pricing.

How do I properly transfer utilities into my name from a previous tenant to avoid any service interruptions?

Contact the utility companies before your move-in date to set up accounts in your name, providing them with your move-in date and any necessary documentation. Ensure the previous tenant has ended their services on their move-out date to avoid overlap and billing issues.

If a utility service requires installation, what should I prepare for on the day of installation?

Ensure access to your property is clear, secure pets away from the work area, and have any necessary documentation and identification ready for verification by the service technician. Be present to oversee the installation and ask questions about the operation and maintenance of the service.


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