A guide to utilities for first time buyers
Moving into your first home is an exciting milestone
As the day approaches to move into your first home, you’ll have a lot on your mind and plenty to take care of.
But make sure that you include sorting out utilities - electricity, water and gas - somewhere high up on your to-do list.
To go back to basics, when people talk about utilities, they’re usually referring to gas, electricity and water.
Most households pay suppliers for each of these essential services, although not all have access to gas and may use an alternative fuel for their heating and cooking.
When you move into your new home, you’ll automatically be transferred to the previous homeowner’s utility providers. There’ll be one water provider, while electricity and gas may come from a single provider or from two separate companies.
You’ll be responsible for the bills for these services, from those existing suppliers, on the day you take ownership of the property, even if you don’t move in on that day.
It won’t necessarily be obvious which companies supply the utilities in your new home.
You may need to ask the estate agent, or the developer if it’s a new build property.
Alternatively to find out your electricity supplier, you can use the Energy Networks Association postcode search tool to find out the name and contact details of your network operator, which will then in turn be able to tell you who supplies your electricity. For gas, you can use the Find My Supplier tool.
Let your new energy supplier know you’ve moved in, as soon as possible. You’ll also need to find your gas and electricity meters to take a reading to make sure you get an accurate first bill.
Meters are often found in the kitchen, hallway or in a box outside the property. You may have to root around in the cupboards to find yours. Once you’ve found the meters, take a meter reading - Compare the Market has a great visual guide on which numbers to look for.
The best way to find the best deal for you is to use several price comparison websites. This Citizens Advice guide explores different kinds of energy tariff and things to consider when shopping around for the best deal.
When you move into a property, your gas and electricity providers will put you on a standard contract that is likely to be expensive.
So, you should look for a better deal as soon as you move in. This can save you hundreds of pounds. As an indication, according to energy market regulator Ofgem, the average you might pay is £1,125 per year - although the cheapest is around £807. That’s for a dual fuel variable tariff, meaning it covers both electricity and gas.
Also, as soon as you move in start forming some good energy-saving habits to keep your bills low.
Water is a little simpler. Unlike with gas and electricity, you can't switch water supplier, as it simply depends in which part of the country you live in. You can find your water provider on the Water UK website.
Around half of households now have a water meter, which means their bill is affected by how much water they use. Households without a meter will simply pay a set rate.
Water meters are generally located outside at the external boundary box or inside the property where the supply pipe meets the internal stop tap.
Find out more about water bills and meters to see if and how you could save money in your new home.
Which suppliers should you choose?
While you can’t choose your water supplier, when it comes to gas or electricity, your hunt for the best supplier is likely to be largely based on cost. The best way to find the cheapest deal for your circumstances is to use price comparison sites, as mentioned above, getting quotes based on your own individual circumstances.
Beyond that, another big factor in your thinking may be service - rankings produced by consumer group Which? can help you identify the best and worst providers based on customer feedback. Or perhaps the environment is particularly important to you, in which case you may want to choose a supplier with the best green credentials.
Click on the sections below to explore what you need to know at each stage of your home buying journey: