1. Make sure you turn off your old utilities:
Before you move to Austin, make sure you schedule the turnoff of your current utilities. Generally, it takes providers a couple of days to turn off services, so you’ll want to schedule this at least a week or two in advance so you don’t continue paying post-move. Make sure you provide a forwarding address (and while you’re at it, forward your mail) for the return of any deposits. Remember to keep the utilities on long enough to finish your final cleaning. Nothing worse than trying to vacuum with no power.
2. Consider your options for utilities at your new residence:
If you are moving to or within Austin proper, you only have 1 option for water, electricity, and gas service providers. However, if you are in the outlying areas you may have multiple options. Here’s a run-down on utilities in Austin:
City Of Austin Utilities – Electricity
Though most of Texas is now deregulated when it comes to electric service, the greater Austin area is one of the few markets that remains regulated. This means that Austin Energy, one of the largest public utilities in the U.S., is the sole electric provider in most Austin zip codes for the time being. In March 2015, the Texas Senate introduced Bill 1945, that would allow the Public Utility Commission to challenge the rates set by regulated utilities if deemed unfair when compared with other deregulated markets. While this would have the effect of deregulating the Austin market, the Bill has not yet passed in the Senate, and would have to make it through the approval of the House and governor before going into effect. So it could be awhile, if ever, before Austin is deregulated. If you are moving outside of the greater Austin area, you may have more options when it comes to choosing your electric provider. You can easily search your zip code on Power to Choose (http://www.powertochoose.org/en-us/), a website provided by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, to see what your options are when it comes to selecting an electric service provider.
The Austin Water Utility, run by the City of Austin, is the sole provider of water and sewage services to the Austin area. Be aware that the Austin area is frequently in drought, and therefore under water usage restrictions, so make sure that you know the rules before watering your yard or washing your car as penalties may be enforced.
Texas Gas Service is the sole provider of natural gas services in Austin.
3. Set-up your new service
Schedule the turn-on of your utilities in advance of moving. It may take technicians a few days to start utilities, especially during the peak summer moving season.
Request Austin water and electric service through the City of Austin Utilities portal:
Initiate natural gas service here:
4. Look for ways to save
Energy and water bills tend to skyrocket along with the heat during our stifling Texas summers. However, Austin Energy provides ways for energy efficient customers to earn rebates and save on their bills.
- Energy Star Rebate program: A registered contractor helps identify home energy improvements, such as increased insulation, reducing the size of the air conditioner, installing a remote thermostat and updating window and door seals. If you make all the recommendations suggested, you receive a rebate to cover 20% of the cost of the work performed. In the long run, these improvements could drastically reduce the cost of future energy bills.
- In addition to the rebate provided for home improvements, Austin Energy also offers substantial rebates on the purchase of several Energy Star appliances including:
- HVAC systems
- Water heaters
- Refrigerator recycling
- Solar PV systems
- Pool pumps
- You may want to consider installing a wifi thermostat that enables you to control the temperature of your home even when you’re away. No more leaving the air on all day so you come home to a cooled house – crank up the thermostat when you leave for work and turn it back down an hour or two before coming home.
- Consider other methods of conserving energy. Here are just a few:
- Use blinds and curtains to keep out the beating Texas sun
- Turn up the thermostat and use ceiling fans – fans can make you feel a few degrees cooler but don’t use much electricity
- Set your fans to turn clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer. The clockwise motion moderates the room’s temperature in winter months by displacing the warm air that normally rises to the top of the room. Turning the fan counterclockwise creates the effect of a breeze that will help cool you off.
- Change air filters monthly
- Grill out instead of cooking inside during the summer
- Unplug chargers when not in use as these often continue to consume energy