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The first 90 days: what to know when sorting out utilities

When you move into a new property, it’s the first 90 days that are the most disruptive.

While you may have finally completed your purchase and moved into your home, we’re sorry to say that the hard work isn’t quite over! It takes roughly 90 days to fully settle into a new home so, for this reason, Coreco is working on a series of blogs that will help first-time buyers adjust to the new property with minimal frustration or surprises. This week, we’re focusing on utilities and what you need to know!

Energy

First thing’s first, the electricity. It’s probably the most important utility to get sorted since we use it for pretty much everything! When you arrive at your property you will automatically be placed on a ‘deemed contract’, which simply means the electricity you use will still be billed to you even though you haven’t set up a contract yet. You don’t want to be on a deemed contract for long: they tend to be about 80% more than what you would expect to pay if you negotiated your own contract.

The first thing you need to do when you arrive at your new property is to find out which energy company is supplying your electricity. You can do this by looking at the Energy Networks Association website and entering your postcode. They can tell you who is supplying your electricity and how to get in touch with that company. If you have a prepayment meter then you might need to arrange a new top-up key to be delivered.

Make sure you’ve taken a meter reading from the day you move in. When you call your supplier, be sure to give them the meter reading along with your details and the date you moved in. You’ll probably be placed on a standard tariff, which is at least better than a deemed contract. This is when you should start looking for energy deals. There are many comparison sites out there for you to use, and most providers are pretty good at making the switch as seamless as possible. Make sure you take another meter reading on the day you switch and settle the final bill with your old supplier.

If you have gas as well as electricity, then you will also need to go through the same process with your gas supplier.

Water

Next, and somehow less important to us than electricity, is water. As with electricity, you first need to find out who supplies your area. You can use this map to identify your supplier, and then contact them from this list of water companies. Again, much like with your energy suppliers, make sure you take a water meter reading the day you move in (if your property has one).

In some areas, the sewerage is supplied by a separate company to the water one. Check with your supplier so you aren’t shocked to find two separate bills.

Broadband

The next necessity is the internet. If possible, look into this on day one (after you have finished the above), because there is usually a delay for services to start up. Choosing the right internet service has a lot more impact on your everyday life, so it will need some extensive research. First of all, don’t choose the deal based entirely on price. In fact, don’t choose your supplier based on anything that internet providers claim, because what really matters is the reliability and internet speed in your area.

The first step is to find out who supplies internet services to your area. Comparison websites are helpful for this, but don’t rely on them exclusively. Some suppliers give situational service, like Hyperoptic, who provide fibre optic broadband for blocks of flats in central London, or Relish who offer 4G home internet. Once you have narrowed down what you think is the best internet deal, make sure you call them to give a live speed test of what you can expect from your connection. When internet suppliers claim they can provide, for instance, 20MB/s internet speeds, they are referring to the maximum possible. The actual rate can vary from half to a tenth of the quoted speed. Paying a few pounds a month extra for fast, reliable internet might be the better option.

If you’re finding your internet too slow after you’ve started a contract, don’t fret. Providers will usually have an early get-out clause that allows you to leave the contract with no penalty within the first three months. If the service they are providing is particularly poor, they should let you leave without penalty regardless. In 2015, Ofcom set new rules that allow customers to cancel their broadband without fees if the consumer is experiencing particularly slow internet speeds. In BT’s case, for instance, if you have a 20MB/s broadband deal that doesn’t operate at speeds of at least 10MB/s, you should be able to cancel your contract penalty-free.

Phone

If you already have a landline number, you should be able to ‘port’ it over to your new location. When you call to let your provider know you are moving house, tell them you intend to keep the same number. The only catch is that you might need to stay with the same landline provider. If you are switching, check with them if it’s possible to keep your number.

There are two types of process for switching phone service: the ‘gaining provider led’ process and the ‘cease and re-provide’ process. The former is when you contact a new provider and they arrange the switch for you, including cancelling your old contract. The latter means you are switching to a provider that uses different technology and systems – such as switching to an independent cable service like Virgin Media – so you need to contact your old provider to cancel your contract. This method can result in some downtime as your switch providers.

Remember that some service providers require a minimum service period before you can switch and may charge an exit fee for early termination. If you’re moving to a property and you haven’t had a phone landline before, it can be included as part of a broadband package. But have a think about whether or not you even want a landline – with everyone constantly within one meter of their mobile telephone, you might find you don’t actually have any use for one. On the other hand, landlines are more reliable with their connections, so could be useful in the event of an emergency.

 

Hopefully, this blog will help to make the first stage of your transition into your new home a little easier! Stay tuned for more blogs on how to make the first 90 days in your new home as painless as possible; you can keep track of our blog posts on our Twitter and Facebook pages.