A guide to utilities for first time buyers
Last updated: 19/04/2023
Moving into your first home is an exciting milestone. As the day approaches, you’ll want to start thinking about sorting your utilities – things like electricity, water and gas.
Most households pay suppliers for essential services like electricity, gas, and water. (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 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.
When you move into a property, your gas and electricity providers will put you on a standard contract that could be expensive.
Normally the best thing to do would be to look at comparison sites and find the best deal possible. When energy prices are high, there aren’t as many cheap deals available, so it could be worth staying on your default tariff. It's worth shopping around to find out.
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.
The best way to find the cheapest deal for your gas or electricity is to shop around for some quotes; you can use price comparison sites to do this. You can’t choose or change your water supplier.
A reputation for good customer service might be important to you. And rankings produced by consumer group Which? can help you identify the best and worst providers based on customer feedback.
If good environmental creds matter to you, you may want to look for a supplier with green credentials.