Moving House Utilities: All you need to know

Moving box next to an energy bill

If you’re moving house, there are a some important steps you should remember to take take when you sort out utilities. In this step-by-step guide, we'll take the uncertainty out of changing over your utility contract by breaking down what you need to do before moving out of your current property, and show you how to set up your energy account at your new home once you’ve moved.


How do I arrange utilities when moving out? 🏠→

Are you the account holder for utilities at your current house? If so, then you're going to need to take care of your energy supply before moving. Let’s have a look at what to do before moving house and arriving at your new place.

If you are moving into your first home, or if you’re not the current account holder for utilities, you can skip ahead to the next section: setting up your utilities at your new home.

moving house utilities infographic

1- Call your energy supplier

If you are the account holder at your current home, you should contact your energy supplier at least two days before moving out to inform them you are leaving. There are several reasons to make this call. We will detail them here and in the next section.

If you have a credit meter (billing meter), you will need to call your current energy supplier to provide them with a forwarding address so that they can send you a final bill to settle up. It can take up to six weeks for this final bill to be issued. If your account is in credit, the supplier will transfer the credit directly to your bank account or send you a cheque once you’ve received the final bill.

Remember:

If you’re on a fixed tariff, you may be charged an exit fee for leaving the contract early. You can find exit fee information on your energy bill. Some suppliers will let you take the tariff with you to your new property if you’re still in contract so you won’t get charged the exit fee. Check with your supplier to find out if this is possible.

2- Submit a final meter reading

Now that your supplier knows you’re moving out, they will be expecting a meter reading. If you have a credit meter, you will need to submit a final meter reading on the day you move out. This will ensure that you are not billed for any energy usage after you’ve left.

Don’t know how to take a meter reading? Read our step-by-step guide on how to do it.

If you don’t submit a final meter reading, you risk being charged for energy you didn’t consume. For example, if the person moving in after you does not contact the energy supplier to let them know they have moved in and to give an opening meter reading, they could rack up energy charges under your name.

Even if no one moves into the property immediately after you leave, you could still be billed for the standing charges if you don’t call the supplier to give a final meter reading and close your account. Standing charges are a daily charge issued for simply having energy supplied to the property and typically cost around 30p per day. This may not seem like much at first, but it can add up pretty quickly if your supplier doesn't know you have left.

It’s best to take a picture of your final meter reading and hold on to it for up to a year. You can use it as proof of closing your account if a dispute arises later, as well as use it to compare against your final bill to make sure you have been charged correctly.

  • Key points to remember:
  • Call and submit a final meter reading before moving house
  • Read your electricity meter and your gas meter (if you have both)
  • Take a day and night meter reading (if you have an Economy 7, dual rate, meter)
  • Keep a picture of the meter reading(s) for up to a year

3- Take your prepayment key/card with you

This tip is only for those with a prepayment or top-up meter. If you have a prepayment meter, or top-up meter, you should always take your key or card(s) with you when you leave so that the new occupants won't have access to your energy account. They will need to call the supplier and set up their own account. This can save you from having someone else’s debt added to your energy account as some companies loan credit to people on top-up meters in times of financial hardship.

If you have credit left on your prepayment meter, it’s best to try to use it up before you leave. If you need to move out and credit is still on the meter, you should contact your energy supplier to ask for a refund and they can send a cheque to your new residence.


How do I set up utilities in a new house? →🏠

If you’ve made it this far, great! That must mean you are finally moving in at your new home and have already dealt with the energy at your old home. Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to set up the utilities at your new property.

1- Check your energy supply and meters

When you arrive at the new property, it’s important to figure out what set-up the previous occupants had. You should first check to see if there is a working supply of electricity and gas (some properties may be electricity only). This will give you an idea of if the supply has been switched off and needs to be reactivated by the energy company.

Next, go find the energy meter(s) in the new property. This will help you determine what kind of arrangement you have at the property and what tariffs you will be able to choose later.

Keep in mind that if you’ve just moved into a new build, there may not be a meter yet and you would need to have one installed. In this case, the energy supplier you choose will install the meter.

Electricity meter

If you’ve having trouble finding your meter(s), some common locations include the following:

  • Under the stairs
  • Under the sink
  • In the cupboard
  • In the garage
  • Near the entrance
  • Outside in a meter box

Once you have found the meter(s), you should identify the type. Some important things to look for include the following:

These questions will help you have all the necessary information for later when you call to set up your new account.

Keep in mind that if the meters have been removed (this may happen if the previous occupants didn’t pay their utility bills), you should contact the current energy supplier to get them reinstalled.

Also in some cases, if you have a prepayment meter and the supply is currently off, the meter may have run out of credit. Try to activate the emergency credit or call the energy company before trying to top up, as there may be debt on the meter.

  • Key points to remember:
  • Check if the energy supply is currently working
  • Check if you have both a gas and an electricity meter or just an electricity meter
  • Identify the meter type(s)

2- Take an opening meter reading

Once you have located the meters, you will need to take a meter reading. You should take an opening meter reading on the day you move in. Your energy supplier will need this when helping you set up your new account. As we previously discussed, it’s important that you do this to ensure that you get an accurate first bill.

Even if the previous occupants submitted a final meter reading, you want to make sure that you also submit one so that you are not charged for anything used prior to moving in.

3- Identify the current energy supplier

Once you have found the meters and taken a reading, you should try to find out who the current energy supplier is at your new home. You will need to contact them and provide them with your opening meter reading as mentioned before. We will speak more about this later.

Even if you decide to switch to a different supplier, you will still be with the home’s current supplier (the previous occupant’s supplier) for two to three weeks before your new account is activated.

You can find out who the current supplier is in the following ways:

  • Ask your landlord or the previous occupants
  • Check the mail (the current supplier should send a letter to introduce themselves)
  • Look around for an old bill
  • Contact your distribution network operator (DNO)

For help identifying the current supplier at your new property, you can also head to our guide on how to find your energy supplier.

4- Choose the energy supplier you want

You aren’t obligated to stay with the previous occupant’s supplier at your new home. You are free to choose your own supplier and to switch without any fees. You may still have to pay an exit fee from your previous property if you were still in contract, however, unless you’re able to transfer the tariff to your new home.

As you never know exactly what tariff the previous occupants agreed to with your new home’s current supplier, you may be able to find a better tariff with a different supplier. There are around 50 energy suppliers in Britain, so you have plenty of options to choose from. You can either visit supplier websites to compare prices or use a third party comparison service.

5- Sign up to a new tariff

Now it’s time to set up your new energy account. If you want to stay with the current supplier at the new house, go ahead and skip to the following section about contacting the current supplier.

If you want to sign up to a new tariff with a different energy supplier, give your preferred supplier a call or see if you can register online. You will need to provide the following details:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your meter type(s)
  • Your annual energy consumption
  • Your MPAN and MPRN (not always necessary)

You can use the consumption calculator to find the estimated annual energy consumption for your new property.

Once you sign up to your new tariff, you will be given a 14-day cooling-off period during which you can change your mind and cancel with “no questions asked”, free of charge. The switch will not go through until after this two-week period has ended. If you don’t cancel your new contract within the 14-day cooling-off period, it will take effect 15 to 21 days from the date you signed up.

You will still have an energy supply at your home from the day you move in as the previous occupant’s energy company will continue to supply you until the switch has taken place. Once your new company has taken over, they will send a meter reading to the old energy supplier. The old supplier will then calculate your bill so you can settle up for the two to three weeks that you were on supply with them.

6- Call the previous occupant’s energy supplier

Old phone

Regardless of if you’re staying with the previous occupant’s supplier or switching to a new one, you need to call the current supplier at the property to let them know you have moved in. This is important because you want to make sure they are aware that the previous occupants have moved out.

You will need to provide the current supplier with the meter reading you took in order to ensure you aren’t billed for anything prior to moving in.

If your new home has a prepayment meter, ask the supplier to clear any debt that may be on the meter from the previous occupants. If you don’t have the debt cleared, you could end up paying it off yourself each time you top up. You can find out more about this in the FAQs below.

• If you choose to change energy supplier

If you’ve signed up with a different energy supplier for the new property, you’ll need to let the home’s current supplier know that you have opened a new energy account elsewhere. Otherwise, they may block the switch if there is any debt from the previous occupant.

You will still be with the current energy supplier for two to three weeks before the new energy supplier takes over. You will have to pay the current energy supplier for the energy that is consumed during this time.

• If you choose to stay with the current energy supplier

If you’ve chosen to stay with the current supplier, go ahead and sign up for a new tariff. Even though you’re staying with the same supplier, you should still sign up for a new tariff rather than simply changing the name on the account. This will keep you from inheriting any negative aspects of the previous occupant’s account.

If you don’t sign up for a new tariff, you’ll likely be placed on the standard variable tariff (which tends to have the most expensive rates).

7- Your new account takes effect

Utility box

Regardless of if you signed up with the previous occupant’s supplier or have chosen to move to a new supplier, you are effectively starting a new contract under your name. Since you are legally protected by the UK’s standard 14-day cooling-off period, the new contract in your name will take effect 15 to 21 days after you register.

To ensure a smooth transfer, you should take an opening meter reading on your switch date to keep for your personal records, just in case. The supplier should inform you exactly what day the new contract will take effect.

If you’re switching to a new supplier, they will take care of everything to ensure a smooth transfer. The new supplier will pass your first meter reading to the previous supplier so that they can calculate your final bill for the two to three weeks that you were with them. You will then need to settle this final bill with the previous supplier at the property. If you don’t receive this final bill within six weeks, you should call the previous supplier to find out what the issue is.

It may be a good idea to check that the new contract has taken effect once the cooling-off period is over. Give your new energy supplier a call the day after the transfer was set to take place to confirm.


FAQs about Moving House & Utilities

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions we all have about moving house and sorting out our utilities.

Can I keep my current energy plan when I move home?

Yes, sometimes. If you want to keep your current energy plan when you move (perhaps you’re on a fixed tariff and don’t want to pay the exit fee), you should contact your energy supplier to find out if you can transfer it to your new home. Note that this is not possible with all energy suppliers.

What happens if you don’t pay your electric bill and move out?

If you don’t pay your final bill after moving out, the energy company will report your owed bill to the credit company. It will stay there for any creditors to see in the future. If you move to a new property in the same area, your energy company could have your utilities turned off at your new home until you pay.

Even though you can legally choose your own energy supplier, it may be best to let your landlord know before you switch in order to maintain a good relationship

I’m a renter. Do I need permission to switch energy suppliers?

No, not unless it’s stipulated in your rental contract. If you are renting a property and are responsible for paying the energy bills, you have the right to choose your supplier under consumer protection law. Your landlord should not be able to prevent you from switching.

What if the new property doesn’t have a gas or electricity supply?

If your new house doesn’t have an electricity supply, you should contact your distribution network operator (DNO) to get connected.

If the property does not have a gas supply, you should contact your gas distribution network (GDN) if you wish to get connected to the gas mains. A gas connection is not necessary, as you can still cook and heat your home and water with an all electric system. Electricity costs more than gas, however, so it may be more cost effective in the long run to get a gas supply.

Will my energy supply be cut off if I switch suppliers?

No, your energy supply will at no point be interrupted if you switch energy suppliers. You won’t need to have any new pipes or cables installed if you switch.

Once you call and let the home’s current supplier know you have moved in, they will supply your energy until your new contract takes over in about 15 days.

Do you take your smart meter with you when you move?

No, you should not take your smart meter with you when moving house. If your smart meter has an In-Home Display (IHD), you should not take this with you either as it’s linked to the smart meter. The IHD is the small touch-screen device inside your house you use to see your energy consumption.

If your new home has a smart meter, it will likely be incompatible with the IHD from your previous residence. Your new home should have its own IDH. If there is no IHD, contact your energy supplier to request a new one, as the previous occupants may have taken it with them by mistake.

What if my new property has a prepayment meter?

If your new house has a prepayment meter, you should contact the energy supplier straight away. Ask the supplier to remove any debt that is currently on the meter.

You should also ask for a new key/card to top up the meter. Since this will take a few days to arrive, the supplier will give you a code to take to your nearest top-up location. With this code, you can get a temporary key/card to top up the meter in the meantime.

You may wish to change from a prepayment meter to a standard credit meter or a smart meter. You can often get cheaper energy rates if you pay by direct debit or on receipt of a bill, and you won’t have to worry about topping up regularly. For information about getting a credit meter installed, check out our guide on how to switch from a prepayment meter to a credit meter.

What if my new property has an Economy 7 meter?

If your new house has an Economy 7 meter, you will have two unit rates for electricity — a pricier one for the day and a cheaper one for seven hours at night. The cheaper off-peak hours typically run from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. or from midnight to 7 a.m.

You can identify an Economy 7 meter by looking at the MPAN. The number on the top row will begin with “02”.

Households with storage heaters can benefit from having an Economy 7 meter. These heaters can be set to collect the heat at night when electricity is cheaper and release it during the day.

If you consume most of your electricity during the day, having an Economy 7 meter could end up costing you more. If you prefer to have one single electricity rate, you may be able to switch without having to get a new meter. Check with your supplier to see if this is possible. If you have to get a new meter installed, many suppliers (especially the larger ones) will do this for free.

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