Moving can be a stressful time. Use these tips to help reduce the anxiety and prevent unexpected expense.
If you are a homeowner
Your new home may have utility services already, so getting an account set up in your name could only take a phone call to the utility company. If you already have electricity and/or gas in your name, you may be able to transfer accounts from one billing address to another.
In Alberta, you have options when buying electricity and natural gas. If you need to open a new account, a company offering the regulated rate option (RRO) can set up an account for you immediately, or even backdate if required. A competitive company can take from 10-90 days to set up services in your name.
- If you need service immediately or if the utilities are currently turned off at the property, contact the regulated rate option (RRO) providers for electricity and natural gas
Try to call the utility company at least two weeks before you take possession of your home. New customers will need to provide their full name and contact information (phone number and email), service address, and desired service start date. You may also be asked to provide some type of identification, such as your driver’s licence number. If you want to switch to a competitive provider at a future date, you can do this after service is set up with the regulated rate provider.
- If you do not need service immediately, choose the retailer you want to bill with and contact them
You can choose either a regulated or competitive retailer. Each company will need different types of information to set up service. Most competitive companies will also need a credit check before setting up service. If the company cannot set up service before you take possession or move into your home, set up regulated services until your contract becomes active. You can cancel your regulated service without penalty as soon as your contract is in effect.
- Plan for additional fees
The retailer or distributor may request a deposit or connection fees to set up your utilities. When setting up services, ask if you need to pay these fees before service is delivered or if they will be charged on your first statement. Be sure to ask your retailer if it is possible to avoid these fees. Some companies will waive deposits for customers on automatic monthly withdrawal.
- Know your options
Once you have settled into your home, you may transfer from the regulated rate option provider to the competitive retailer. Use our Cost Comparison Tool to compare plans and rates to find what company works best for you. Before you decide on a new retailer, ask your current retailer about any cancellation fees for ending your contract early.
- Know what type of utility meter is in your new residence
The type of meter at a property determines the rates charged by your retailer. A private home can have a Residential or Commercial meter. The distribution company can install a commercial meter on residential property if the property owners have a home-based business and require a reliable supply of energy at all times. If you have a commercial meter on your property, your utility bill is going to be higher because of higher distribution charges. There are no regulations in place requiring the retailer to confirm what the property is being used for when the billing customer changes. It is your responsibility to ask your retailer about the type of meter installed on your property and ask that it be changed.
If you are a tenant
- Work out a rental agreement with your landlord before you move into your new rental home
In most apartments, utilities such as water, heat, and garbage collection are part of the rental cost. Electricity is usually the responsibility of renters. Confirm with your landlord or apartment management company what utility services are included with your rent. Keep in mind some landlords require proof that you have set up your utilities before they let you move in.
- Contact your utility company in advance to set up services or to schedule transfers
If you get your utilities through a competitive retailer, please contact them about a move notice. Some retailers require up to a 45-day notice.
During peak moving season, like the spring/summer months, you may need to wait longer for your services to be set up. If you are unable to move your service soon enough, you will need to set up with the regulated retailer until your competitive retailer is able to supply the service to your new home.
Shortly before your move, call each utility service again to confirm that your utilities will be transferred to your new address, and confirm if you need any appointments to turn on service.
- Ask if your rental residence has a sub-metering (suite metering) system
With a sub-metering system in your residence, you may have to buy electricity through a contract arranged by the landlord. Sub-meters measure electricity consumption in each unit. Residents are billed individually for the electricity they use in-suite. Currently, sub-metering service companies are unregulated distributors of electricity so the Alberta Utilities Commission does not regulate their rates and administrative fees.
- Check if your leases overlap
If you are moving and responsible for two properties at the same time – even for a short period - tell your retailer that there will be an overlap in billing. When you receive your statement for the two properties, it will likely be larger than your usual monthly bill.
- Watch for your bills
Make sure you are receiving monthly charges for all utilities you are responsible for. If you are not getting bills, contact your retailer as soon as possible. Even if you do not receive your bill, you are still responsible for any late payment penalties.
For more information on a tenant’s rights and responsibilities, please visit the Service Alberta website or see the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook for Landlords and Tenants.
If you are a landlord
- Consider having a Premise Vacancy Agreement (Landlord Agreement) with your energy retailer
If utilities are turned on at your property and there is no tenant to pay for the consumption, you are responsible for all charges for the electricity or natural gas. To avoid getting a bill after a tenant has left, you may consider setting up a Premise Vacancy Agreement (PVA or Landlord Agreement) with the retailer. The agreement ensures the landlord of the vacant property is immediately enrolled for electricity or gas when no other customer calls to start services at the site. Contact your retailer directly to ask if they offer a PVA and what your options are.
- Consider turning off the utilities at your rental property
If you want to limit charges billed to you when your rental site has no tenants, you can ask your utility company to turn off the services. This may reduce and, in some cases, stop any charges. However, you may need to pay a reconnection fee once you decide to turn the services back on. Ask your utility company about any reconnection fees.
For more information on a landlord’s rights and responsibilities, please see the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook for Landlords and Tenants.