How to Sign Up for Utilities for your Apartment

No one wants to be left out in the cold, especially when it’s literally INSIDE their new apartment! Prevent this from happening by taking some tips from us about setting up utilities for your apartment, and getting them established before you move in so that the transfer from the old tenant’s account to the new one is seamless and you don’t experience any outages. So, you’ve got the apartment you wanted and you’re preparing to move in.   First steps to take to set up your utilities are:

  • Contact the landlord and find out what companies are providing utilities services for the apartment. You need to find out if you have electric or gas heat, and who the provider is, as well as if you are paying for water, its provider, as well as who your electricity provider is. If you have electric heat, you won’t have a separate heating utility provider, but if you have a gas oven/stove in your kitchen, then you may be responsible for paying a very small amount per month to deliver the gas from the utility provider (some landlords pay for this or include it in the rent so it helps to ask.)
  • Find out who can provide cable TV, internet, and phone – or if you may have to get a satellite-based provider if there are none in your area. This can sometimes be the case if you live in a rural area.
  • Consider other utility-like services that you may have to pay for. Usually apartment buildings include trash, recycling, and snow removal in the rent, however if you are renting a house or a large apartment, it may be an extra added cost on top of your rent that your landlord will collect.

Electricity

  • Burlington’s electricity is provided by the city, so if you live in Burlington, you can call (802) 865-7300 and speak to customer service to step up your new account. You will need to provide your new apartment’s address, the move-in date (or date you want it turned on) and your social security number, among some other basic information.
  • Ask about billing options – sometimes it is cheaper to pay a flat rate year-round based on the estimated electricity usage – and potentially be refunded by Burlington Electric for unused electricity, than it is to pay month-to-month. This depends on how much you think you’ll use and how many people you’ll be living with, if any.

Gas/Heat

  • Vermont has a number of gas provider that service Burlington so you will need to contact your landlord to find out how to get in touch. Be prepared to provide your social security number, move-in date, and discuss billing options as you did with electricity providers.

Cable/TV/Phone

  • Burlington’s two primary providers are Comcast and Burlington Telecom. Each company offers the same kinds of services at approximately the same prices. Many people dislike customer service that’s provided by Comcast, but still have to use them because they are their building’s only option. You may or may not have a choice on the company, so discuss it with your landlord before signing up for any services.
  • One advantage that both companies offer are “triple play” services, where you pay a flat-rate to have an unlimited-minutes phone number at home, you receive internet service, and cable TV service for one price per month. This makes it cheaper than paying per-use, especially if you call a lot.
    • Save money! Don’t sign up for cable TV! If your TV has an HDMI port (most made in the past 6-8 years do), you can purchase a low-cost device such as Chromecast ($35) or a Roku box ($75+), which plug into your television and make it a “SmartTV” that can connect to the internet. You can then purchase a low-cost cable alternative such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that are just a few dollars a month compared to cable, which can run $50+, and not provide nearly the same amount of episodes and content that internet services can. You can save a lot of money this way! Learn more by searching the trend called being a “cord cutter”. There are plenty of different devices and options – some that work like a cable box and others you can control with your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

Does Credit Matter?

  • Yes! Don’t put off payments!
  • Some providers will require a downpayment first or not give you service if you have a very, very poor credit score or owe a lot of money to another utility provider that may be in “collections” (either with the company or collections agency.)
  • Paying your utility bills on time will increase your credit score and demonstrate that you are a reliable customer! Utility providers often reward this kind of loyalty with flexibility in billing when you need it – if you happen to run into money trouble one month they are more likely to offer a payment plan than if you are constantly owing them money.
  • You will receive a lot of notices before utilities are terminated, but when it happens it can cost a lot of money to have them reactivated, so don’t be lazy when it comes to keep the lights on and water running!

New Accounts vs. Transferred Accounts

  • If some of the utility providers between your old and new place are the same, you can just transfer the service to a new address at at specific date. The company’s customer service can set this up and it’s much easier than creating new accounts wherever you move.
    • This long-term relationship with a company also can boost your credit.
    • Especially useful with cable companies, when you can avoid having to turn-in cable modems, cable boxes, remotes, and wiring.

Cost Estimation A beneficial exercise you can do before you move in, if you want to better manage living expenses, is to estimate the total utility cost. The website ApartmentGuide, a resource guide for renters, has a great DIY guide to utility cost estimation online. Click here to access the article and determine what your monthly utility costs will be.


Follow these tips as a starting point whenever you move into a new place and you won’t ever have issue with utilities! For more information and reading, check out the following resources: How to Get Utilities Set Up What You Need to Know About Setting Up Utilities in Your New Home