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When it comes to moving, loading your life's contents into the van is stressful enough. Making sure all the basic utilities and services you need to live are waiting for you at the other end is sometimes forgotten.
We've put together this guide to simplify the process, running you through what you need to consider before lumping your stuff in the car and leaving your old place behind for good.
Here's how to go about transferring your utilities
The process of disconnecting, reconnecting and transferring your utilities can sound gruelling and complicated. We've broken down the steps to make sure you've thought of everything and won't leave anything behind.
1. Your internet and phone
Check your new address's connection
Does your new address have access to the same or similar broadband speed/NBN connection as where you're leaving? Though most houses in Australia have access to broadband Internet, there are still blackspots across the country that lack the necessary infrastructure for high-speed Internet, especially in regional and rural areas.
Even if a broadband service is available at your new house, it's important to double-check the specific type of connection you can get. Depending on the technology used, you may be limited to slower broadband speeds than you're used to.
Are you on a contract?
If you signed up to your current Internet service on a long-term contract and that term hasn't ended, you will likely have to pay some form of relocation or cancellation charge as part of the moving process. Should you choose to stick with your current provider – and your new house is within reach of its network – relocating your existing service can cost as little as nothing at all or as much as a couple hundred dollars, depending on your particular provider.
But if you're moving out of your provider's service area or switching provider, you could end up paying a heavy early termination fee for the contract. This fee varies based upon how long you have left on your contract and can be as much as $500 or more with certain providers.
Will you be moving again?
Whether you're a short-term renter or simply a nomadic individual, you might want to look at signing up for a month-to-month contract if you don't intend on spending years at your new place. With month-to-month contracts, you can cancel at any time and not suffer any termination or relocation charges, saving yourself another headache come time for your next move.
2. Your energy
Give lots of notice
You'll have the smoothest transition when your energy provider(s) know you're moving a week or more ahead of time. This ensures they can have your power and gas disconnected right after you leave and hooked up at your new place in time for your arrival.
Check that your electricity and gas meters are easily accessible. Take a reading when you move in to compare to your first month's bill and make sure everything is accurate.
You'll have to pay a fee for cutting off your old place and hooking up your new one. More effort and money will be required if you're connecting up the new property for the first time.
Consider whether changing to a new provider will get you a better deal. We go into this in more detail further down.
If you're moving and changing provider, you may be subject to heavy exit fees if you're on certain contracts.
The process for connecting gas is nearly identical for electricity, as outlined above. However, not all houses will have natural gas connections, so check your new address before moving in to see if you need a gas plan.
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Get a reading
If you're renting or buying a new home, you should make sure you get an initial water meter reading to make sure you only pay for the water you use. Unlike other utilities, water is always connected and doesn't need to be turned on and off when you move.
4. Pay TV
Check for service
When moving house, all you'll usually need to do is make sure that you can still get your pay TV service at your new address. If you can, all you need to do is hook up your set-top box in the new place, notify your provider and away you go. If you can't get service for whatever reason, your pay TV provider will likely let you cancel the service for no fee, even if you're on a contract.
While they may not seem as important as setting up new connections for your new home, it's still important to check that you won't be leaving behind any loose ends.
Whose name is on the utilities?
If you're renting, determine which utility bills are in your name and which are managed by your landlord/real estate. Ensure that you have your name removed from utilities at the property you're leaving so that you aren't liable for the bills.
Pay off leftover bills
Make sure you've paid off whatever you owe at the old property so it doesn't come back to haunt you. Get a clean break from any utility charges at the old address.
When moving, you'll usually be charged two fees: a disconnection for the address you've left, and a reconnection fee for the address you're moving to. These are one off fees that depend on your electricity distributor, and may be waived on certain plans.
No fee is required if power is already connected and you're just changing the account holder to your name.
Moving interstate? Here's a couple of things to keep in mind
Things can get quite a bit trickier when you move interstate, particularly when it comes to energy.
Places like NSW, VIC, south-east QLD, the ACT and SA have fully competitive energy markets. This means that you can choose which provider you want and sign up for the plan that best suits you.
Elsewhere, you don't have this same freedom. Instead, the government regulates energy prices and you may notice big swings in energy costs when moving from a deregulated area to a regulated one. These swings can go either way – it all depends on where you're moving.
Moving interstate may also force you to switch from your favourite provider: not all retailers operate in all regions or offer the same services if they do.
What's in it for me if I switch providers?
If you're moving house, it's always worth considering whether now's the time to change to a whole new provider. Since you're already disconnecting your electricity, gas and Internet, it could be the perfect opportunity to find a plan with conditions more suited to your new situation.
So long as you're not locked into a contract with an exit fee, switching providers should be free. You could switch for one of the following reasons:
Lower environmental impact
A different provider might burn fewer fossil fuels, provide carbon offsets or let you source more of your power from renewables. They might offer great incentives for solar, letting you switch to green energy more easily at your new home.
Save on bills
Retailers enter or leave the market and conditions change. New competition could drive down average prices, leading to a plan that's straight up cheaper or better in every way than your current one.
Get better customer service
Some retailers are more responsive and reliable when it comes to customer feedback. If you're unhappy with your provider's service, consider switching.
Signing up for a new plan that's month to month with no lock-in contract or exit fees means you can change your mind more easily in the future or move again if you have to.
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What about renters?
Renters face the same process as anyone else when moving, except in one of these three situations:
You aren't paying the bill directly.
Your current energy account may be in the name of your landlord or real estate agent. In this case, power costs are likely included in your rent and you're not directly responsible for the plan.
- Moving out: Make sure your real estate agent cancels payments for the energy plan
- Moving in: If you are moving to a new place where the real estate agent sorts out the energy be sure to provide your payment details before you move in.
You've moved into an embedded network.
An embedded network is a set-up where all the energy for a building is run through a centralised supply and dealt with collectively. We go into more detail on how embedded networks and renting works further down the page.
- Moving out: Let your embedded network know you are moving out.
- Moving in: If you're moving in to an embedded network, your energy will be setup already (along with bills).
Renters are in a bit of a unique position when it comes to energy, so we've broken down all the fees and questions involved when you're renting a property.
What type of plans at should renters look for?
In charge of your own energy? As a renter, your living situation is usually a little less permanent than someone who owns their property. With that in mind, consider plans that have:
- No exit fees/lock-in contracts. Your lease might be up or you could just be ready to move on to somewhere new. Either way, make sure you won't have to pay for the privilege of moving at short notice.
- No connection or disconnection fees. Some plans waive the fees for hooking up the power at your new place and disconnecting it from your old place, handy for those who know they'll move in the future.
- Low usage and supply rates. The above features are nice, but low usage and supply rates are always valuable. After all, saving a couple hundred dollars in connection fees isn't great if you're paying more than that on your energy bills.
Which providers have special plans designed for renters?
There are two providers that have plans that waive connection and/or disconnection fees: Lumo Energy and Momentum Energy.
- Lumo Movers. Available in VIC and SA. Offers variable rate electricity with a no lock-in contract. Does not charge you any connection or disconnection fees if you stay with Lumo Movers at your new address. Otherwise, if you switch to a new plan, you'll be charged a disconnection fee.
- Momentum Move Mates. Available in VIC only. Provides variable rate electricity with a no lock-in contract. If you're moving into a property on a Move Mates plan, you won't have to pay any connection fees, and you can get connected by the next business day.
How good are these plans really compared to a regular low rate plan? Assuming you move about once every year, here's how your energy bill might look on the Lumo Movers plan compared to something cheap and simple like the One Plan from OVO Energy.
|Plan (Provider)||Lumo Movers (Lumo Energy)||The One Plan (OVO Energy)|
|Annual power usage||6,000 kWh||6,000 kWh|
|Connection/disconnection fees (Citipower)||$0||$84.21 ($41.79 connection + $42.42 disconnection)|
|Total usage and supply costs||$421.54 (supply) + $1,219.80 (usage) = $1,641.34||$330.03 (supply) + $1,260.60 (usage) = $1,590.63|
|Total energy bill||$1,641.34||$1,674.84|
Note: Data last checked in September 2020.
As you can see, the amount you'd save on the Lumo Movers plan isn't huge compared to the overall bill, but it's also not zero. If you're moving more frequently during the year, the mover plan will provide significantly better value.
What do I need to consider when moving to a new property?
When moving into a new home where you're in charge of the energy bills, there are a few questions to consider.
Is a smart meter installed?
Smart meters are handy, so if there's one already set up at the property, you can take advantage of plans and features that rely upon them. If a smart meter is not installed, don't worry about it. You should never have to pay for smart meter installation – that will be dealt with by the owner.
What if the property has solar panels?
This may involve having a discussion with the owner. When you pick an energy plan, there will likely be some solar feed in tariffs involved for excess energy returned to the power grid. The owner may decide that they want control over these, so sort it out before moving in.
How much notice do I need to give to my provider?
Generally, a provider will only need five days or so to get everything set up. However, you should inform your provider (both new and old, if you're switching) of the date that you're moving as soon as you know. This will ensure that everything transitions over smoothly.
Do I have to pay for electricity in an apartment?
Usually yes, as long as the apartments are separately metered. Most apartment dwellers will be able to select their energy provider the same way as anybody else, provided that the distributor has easy access to the energy meter. The main exception is embedded networks, described below.
If your distributor can't access your meter, they may charge you based on estimated usage, instead. To avoid this, arrange for easier meter access or submit manual reads online or over the phone.
Unlike most residents of apartment buildings, you won't get any say over your energy provider in an embedded network. In an embedded network, instead of each unit being connected to a separate energy circuit and meter, they are connected to a centralised power network for the whole building.
This network is then connected to the electricity grid, with all power to the building provided by the retailer who services the building. In theory, this allows buildings to negotiate cheaper power rates by buying it in bulk, but it leaves renters without any control over their energy plan.
Legally, you are still allowed to choose your own retailer even in an embedded network, but in practice, you may find that it's difficult and ends up being more expensive anyway.
- Given your old provider notice. Let your current provider know the date you're moving as soon as possible. If you're switching providers, settle any outstanding accounts.
- Signed up to a plan, if desired. Moving house can be a good time to switch to a better power deal. Either way, let your provider for the new address know the date you're moving in so you'll have power when you arrive.
- Done your meter readings. Get a meter reading from your existing house when you leave and at the new address when you arrive. This way you won't be charged for power you haven't used.
- Ensure your old plan is cancelled/transferred. Double check that you're no longer paying for energy that you aren't using.
If you've done the above then you are good to go.
Image: Getty Images
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