When you’re moving to a new area, or considering a new build or purchase of a home, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself. What most forget, however, is to look at the established things in the house, such as the utilities. While some, like using city water or a well, might not give you a lot of wiggle room, others give you chances to customize what suits your own family, according to their needs. What are some of the questions you should be asking about your local utilities?
This one is easy: if something is broken, you’ve got to fix it, and to do that, you need to both figure out what’s wrong and who to call to help fix it. It’s important to know where your shut off valves are for gas and water, as well as where your breaker box is for your electricity. (Ideally you have those all labelled before something goes wrong, of course!) Your world will be better off if you have a list in advance of those who you can trust for maintenance and repair of such things as your heater, air conditioner, and plumbing or electric needs. This saves you both time and headache when you do have an issue, and can help you establish care quickly so that your home is back in business as fast as possible.
How Much Am I Using?
It’s important to keep track of your usage, and try to figure out ways to both save money and electricity. This number should be on your bill, monthly, as well as the trend over a year’s time. For longer time periods, your online account should give you a chance to compare months from one year to another. If you find you are using a great deal more in one month, figuring out why, and then how to fix that issue, is paramount to lessening your bills! Sometimes a small decision, like changing bulbs to LED, can help. Other times, options like having more insulation added to your attic can give you an ongoing bonus of having bills cut down considerably.
What are My Options?
If you think your only option is to use electric to heat and cool your house, you might want to search around in case your area offers other choices as well. For example, propane gives you more freedom in choosing providers. It burns a lot less btus than oil does, so it’s cleaner for the air around you. It might initially cost more to switch your water heater or heat to propane, but it’s an efficient heating source, and often your whole house can be cared for with just one source of fuel, including appliances.
New Utility Options
While we tend to think of utilities as being electricity, water, gas, and phone, and sometimes trash collection, traditionally, there are now important other options available as well. Internet connectivity and cellular options are important to new buyers, as almost nobody wants to be living in an area where they can have magnificent views, but no ability to get online. If local service offers fiber, you know they are dedicated to being a city with the best options for consumers. Double check, though: sometimes a company will tell you that fiber is available to a house, but they mean “at some nebulous future time.” If you work remotely on a computer, you need to see the fiber running to the house itself! If you plan on using a particular service, make sure it’s offered locally so that you can transfer over your existing account. If you know your move-in day, you often can schedule in advance so that it’s available immediately.
If you’re a modern worker, it’s likely that you take trash collection for granted. You put the can on the street. The trash disappears. You put the can away until next week. However, if you’re moving to a rural area, the procedure might be different, or else there might be extra steps to establish trash collection in your area. Look into this in advance and see what trash collection might be available. Sometimes even two companies will serve the same street! This is a great time to talk to neighbors and see what services work promptly and are well maintained.
While most consumers do not have a phone service set up running directly as a landline to their homes anymore, some do prefer the option still. However, most need to be able to use their established services in their homes. While there are plenty of ways to improve your cell phone reception in a house, even without using Wi-Fi, it’s still frustrating! Your best option is to check any area where you are planning on moving well in advance, and switch carriers if necessary, or make needed adjustments.
With much of the nation in a climate change-caused drought, and many reservoirs lowering, knowing where your water is coming from is more important than ever. You don’t want the water from your tap to triple in cost any more than you want your well to run dry. Look in advance into what prices and problems existed in your new area or home, including ongoing maintenance if pipes are old or problematic. Likewise, look into what water restrictions are in your new area.
It can seem like a lot to worry over, but most of the time it’s rather simple. Usually, you need to set up your utilities at your local municipal supplier and get everything turned on for your big move in a day! Then, you can worry about important things like getting your internet switched over, as well. Over time, things like when trash day comes, and where your shutoff valve is for your water, will be things you come to learn. As always, though, thinking ahead, and being prepared, is a great way to feel more confident in a new area, especially in a new state or county.