First Time Buyer's Utilities Checklist

Everything a first time buyer needs to know about utilities

First time buyer utilities

Buying your first home is exciting. There is a lot to do, including setting up utilities in your new home. This first time buyer’s utility checklist will cover everything you need to do when buying that first home.

You’ll see how easy and straight forward it all is in no time. Once you’ve read this, you can head straight over to our moving home checklist which will cover everything else.

What Utilities do I need for my first house?

The first thing you need to know is what we mean when we say ‘utilities’.

Utilities are typically split into four categories: Water, Energy, Broadband, and (by extension) Council Tax.

These are the four that you will need for your new home. If you plan on watching TV you will also need to throw-in a TV Licence. This isn’t everthing you need to think about as a first time buyer as there is lots to consider. 

When it comes to utility setup, here’s what you need to look at:

Energy

We will need to setup gas & electricity in your home

Energy

Water

We'll also need to let the water & sewerage know

Water & Sewerage

Broadband

You'll also need to get broadband setup

Broadband

Council Tax

We'll need to set you up with your local council

Council Tax

This is usually the part where you read about how to get everything done (and we’ve written that for you below), but don’t need to read on any further.

SlothMove is a free to use home setup service which helps you setup all the utilities in your new home simultaneously.

You enter your new address and we’ll show you who your new council tax & water providers are and can help you get setup with broadband and a great energy deal. We’ll also help you update your address across your accounts (Boots, Tesco, charities, HMRC, DVLA, etc…)

You can get started by clicking below:

Online Utility Home Setup

changing address online

STEP 1

About you

Enter your previous address, new address and the date you moved home

Change address on driving licence online

STEP 2

Home Setup

Setup your council, water & sewerage, energy, broadband and more

complete dvla form

STEP 3

Submit

Click submit and we'll take care of the rest, sharing any next steps by email

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Now, let’s look at how we can setup energy, water, council tax and broadband in your new property.

Here’s everything you need to do.

Firstly though, how much will it cost you to run your home?

Now, let’s look at how we can setup energy, water, council tax and broadband in your new property.

Here’s everything you need to do.

Firstly though, how much will it cost you to run your home?

What is the average cost of running your home?

What is the average cost of running a home?

Next to your mortgage, your utility bills will be your highest monthly household outgoings. 

So, what is the average cost of utility bills in 2020?

average cost of utility bills

That’s right, the average cost of utilities for a person in the UK is £265.

But remember, that’s just the average. You may pay more or less than this based on your circumstances. You may have less people, your consumption could be higher – you could be on a worse tariff etc…

What affects how much I pay for utilities?

For a quick frame of reference, here’s what can affect how much you may be for your bills:

  •    Number of occupants
  •    The size of your property
  •    Your properties energy rating (EPC)
  •    Your energy Tarif
  •    Your consumption

According to Ofgem, the average dual fuel customer is paying £1,254 on a standard variable tariff. This equates to around 5% of the average UK household budget. You can save hundreds off your energy bills by comparing the market. Our home setup service compares the entire market to get you on a great energy & broadband deal. You can also see our Utility Club

The average water bill is £425, with our Nor Western neighbours paying £18 more.

Interesting, right? You get the idea.

 

So, let’s take a look at how to setup gas & electricity as a first time buyer.

First Time Buyer Gas & Electricity

Energy

When you enter the property as a new home owner you will automatically be assigned to the energy provider already there, typically on an expensive tarriff.

You can actually setup your energy before you move into the property and be on a great deal from day 1. Lucky for you,  our home setup service specialises in this. 

If you have already moved in then you should follow this process to setup gas & electricity.

Find your energy meters

energy meters

The first item on your to-do list is to find your gas & electricity meters. They are usually (but not always) held in the same place. If you’re unsure where they are, you can ask the seller, the developer or a friend to help you find them.

On your first day within the property you should find the meters and take a meter reading.

We will see why this is important shortly.

Contact your energy supplier

Once you have your meter readings you should contact your energy supplier. You can ask the seller/estate agent who supplies the gas & electricity (it may be two different providers).

Once you call your provider, provide them with your meter readings and the date at which you moved in.

The energy provider will then generally try to set you up on a tariff. However, you are likely to save hundreds if you compare and look elsewhere.

Locate the fuse box

locate the fuse box

The fusebox (or circuit breaker box) is something every house has installed by an electrician when the house is built.

You may ask, what does a fuse box do? What is its purpose and why is that important? 

Well, the fuse box apportions an appropriate amount of electricity to each ‘circuit’. Their purpose is to protect you from electrical fires and other issues.

If electricity demand exceeds a certain threshold it will cause a switch to trip. This is known as your trip switch. This shuts off electricity and will require you to flip’ it back to start using electricity again.

In other words, it’s really important that you know where it is.

Save money on your energy bills

save money on energy bills

Now we’ve updated your incumbent supplier, it’s time to reduce the cost of your bills.

You can save hundreds from switching your energy – sometimes as much as £400-£500, based on your tariff and consumption.

There are two ways to reduce the cost of your energy bills: switching and being more energy efficient.

When it comes to switching, our army of sloths compare the entire market and help find you the best deal. We’ve made the process effortless and are focussed on saving you as much as possible.

With energy efficiency it’s usually the basic stuff.

Three actionable ways  to save money in the home:

  •    Turn off appliances & lights when not in use
  •    Invest in insulation, especially in the loft
  •    Buy eco-friendly light bulbs
  •    

And that’s how to setup gas & electricity as a first buyer. Now, we need to setup your water & sewerage.

How to manage water as a first time buyer

As with your energy, when you move into your home you will already have a water supply. Unlike energy though, you cannot choose your water and sewerage supplier.

A different company may look after water and sewerage.

Water: Responsible for providing fresh water to your property

Sewerage: responsible for removing waste water & drainage away

So, here’s exactly what you need to do with your water as a first time buyer.

 

Find your water meter

water meter

When you move into your first home you might have a water meter. If you’re not sure, be sure to ask the previous tenant or owner to see if they do. It’s usually at a different position than your electricity & gas meters.

You should also make an effort to find your stop valve, which will enable to you to turn off the water for the entire property should there be a leak.

As we know, there are two ways to pay for water: a fixed DD where you can use as much as you like, or a water meter where you pay for what you use. It’s understood that a 3-person working family of typical usage is the break-even point (above = use a fixed price, below = meter).

If you do have a meter, take the reads on the first day you move in. This will help show which water you have used and what was consumed by the previous occupier.

Contact your water supplier

Next, you’ll want to contact your water supplier. If you’re not sure who that is you can use our home moving portal and that will pull through the supplier for your council, water & sewerage off your postcode. You can also use this resource with Water.Org

Here is a map of the UK to give you an idea of who you supplier is likely to be (though bare in mind the boundaries cross across postcodes).

map of the water industry

Once you know who your water supplier is you will need to setup a DD to pay for it. In almost all cases your water & sewerage will be billed by the same company. If they aren’t, the water provider will advice how to setup a DD with the sewerage provider.

How to save money on your water bills

If you are on a fixed DD and you believe your consumption is low, it may be worthwhile switching to a water meter.

Switching to a water meter can be one of the best ways to save money on your water bills. To see if it’s the best economical choice, capture your meter readings and calculate if you would have been better off had you paid per cubic meter.

You can also save on your water bills by switching how you pay. Paying via DD is almost always the cheapest way to pay for your water.

In addition to this, you can also adopt best practices with water wastage such as not having the tap on when you brush your teeth, showers instead of baths etc…

But ultimately, you need to live and as long as your conscious of not wasting that’s generally the important thing. 

water usage in an average home-2

First time buyer council tax

Council Tax

Your council tax bill pays for all of your local services, such as keeping the streetlights on and removing your bins.

When you move into your property you will need to let your local authority know and set up a DD to pay your council tax.

If you’re interested, the below graphic shows the average of how your council tax is spent per household in 2019/2020.

Find out who your local council is

You can find out who your council is with our home setup service; it will pull that up for you automatically after entering your postcode. Interestingly, there are actually 343 councils in the UK – and they all tend to work differently.

Setup your council tax DD

You will then be prompted by your local council to set up your DD to pay council tax. The amount of council tax you pay is based on the size and/or value of your property as of 1st April 1992 for England & 1st April 2003 for Wales. It sounds strange, but that’s the way the government does it. You can check your council tax band here on the government’s website.

Here’s a visual view of what the current bandings look like for 2020/2021:

Council tax bands 2020

Save money on your council tax

There are three ways (generally) to reduce the cost of your council tax:

  • o Apply for single person discount: If you are living alone you are able to reduce your council tax bill by 25%
  • o Apply for a student exemption: if you are a student, or a collection of students buying a home you do not need to pay council tax (woo! 🎉)
  • o Check to see if your council tax band is incorrect: Mistakes do happen and there are thousands of people in the UK who have the wrong tax band on their property – for lots of reasons. You can check online, but start with your neighbours and see what hey are paying. If it’s less then challenge it

 

Sort the bins & the permits

As a first time buyer moving into a new home one of the ‘top-of-the-list’ items is knowing when your bin collections are. You could call the council but it’s honestly easier to ask your neighbour, check online or ask the seller.

Based on where you live, you may also require a permit to park your car. make sure you call the council and process this permit as soon as you know you’re buying the house.

First time buyer broadband

Broadband

And finally, we turn to the last leg of utilities for the home buyer: broadband.

This one is quite simple, so we’ll keep it brief.

How to set broadband up as a first time buyer

There are lots of options when it comes to broadband. Every company is vying for your attention. 

The first thing to do: establish what’s most important – ie, price, speed, service etc…

For a good broadband connection you can expect to pay around £30. At that price point you should expect it to be reliable and fast.

SlothMove can help when it comes to broadband. We’re proud to say that we’ve got access to the entire market and have exclusive offers with providers. this means we can help you get deals you can’t access on the market – cool stuff 😎 

When should I set broadband up?

The best time to set your broadband up is around three weeks before you move in. You can do most things at that point (including energy). The reason it’s best to do it 3 weeks in advance is because it takes time to mail the routers and all of that jazz.

How to save money with broadband

The best way to save money on broadband is to compare and, if possible, go through someone who has exclusive offers. It also never hurts to negotiate!

Your Utilities when buying a home

do good with technology

When buying a house, what do you do with utilities? hopefully we’ve completely answered that question for you and you have a solid understanding of the process – especially as a first time buyer. This first time buyer utilities checklist was created with you in mind, so hopefully it’s been helpful 😎 

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