Picture this: you’ve spent hours packing up your entire house… you’re sweaty, tired, and have just enough energy to drive to your new home in Dallas… you are looking forward to settling in and taking a nice shower, and as soon as you arrive, it hits you – you forgot to turn on the utilities. And now, you have no electricity, no water, and you’re not quite sure when you’re getting them.  Don’t let this happen to you, get informed!

Switching utility services can be another stressor added to the pains of moving, but it is one of the most important tasks to tackle before relocating to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Here are a few tips to follow to minimize the stress of disconnecting services in one location and resuming them in another:

  1. Get up to speed with your utility company’s disconnection policies. While gas, electric, phone and cable companies each have their own lead-time for disconnect/connect notification, a good rule of thumb is to contact their customer service departments at least two weeks in advance.
  1. Get Organized. Create a spreadsheet or make a list of utility companies you will need to contact. Include account numbers, customer service numbers, and key dates in which each utility will be shut off, canceled or transferred. Also include if you get a refund or what the remaining balance is and when it’s due.  Include basic information such as a contact number, driver’s license, social security number and the addresses from your previous and new residence.
  1. Before disconnecting any home services or utilities, see if they can be transferred first. Some energy companies, like Direct Energy for example, will be able to provide this service to their customers as long as they are moving to an area serviced by that company. Transferring services will also help you avoid paying any disconnection fees or security deposits.
  1. Call and disconnect any or all utilities and home services that can’t be transferred at your current home before moving. Note: Be sure to schedule them to stay on either through moving day or the day after. Chances are you’ll need at least electricity and water on moving day and the day after will give you extra time in case moving runs longer.
  1. Schedule all utilities and home services to be connected at your new home on the day you move in or to be safe the day before.

Utility companies in North Texas vary according to area, but most follow similar procedures for new accounts. Below is a list of utilities and services to contact several weeks before moving day:

❑ Electricity

For most of the DFW area, electricity service is deregulated.  This means that residents have a choice when it comes to selecting their Texas retail energy provider. It is a competitive market, so choosing an energy provider that’s right your household can be challenging.  To find a list of participating companies and the plans they offer in your area, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has a website at www.powertochoose.org to help you or call 866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839).

You can also take the guesswork out of choosing an electricity provider – Direct Energy gives customers choice, simplicity, and innovation. With multiple plan options like Free Weekends, which provides the most free electricity supply on weekends, you are likely to find a plan that is best for your household needs.  Direct Energy customers also benefit from several additional perks such as Plenti®, a rewards program that lets you earn points at one place and use them at another, all with a single card, and energy saving tools like Reduce Your Use University.

There are a few districts in the DFW area that do not offer a choice in retail electricity services. The city of Garland and other municipal utilities provide only one source and do not offer competitive electric plans. Rates are set by the city or cooperatives, such as COSERV, which serves parts of Denton, Collin, and Tarrant counties.

No matter who provides your electricity, be prepared to provide some basic information when you call for set-up and in some instances, you may also need to provide a letter of credit from your previous electric company. Non-refundable activation fees and deposits may be required, but are usually billed on your first statement. Be sure to call at least 2-3 business days before your move-in date to ensure that service is activated in time.

❑ Gas

If your new home uses gas for heating, you’ll need to contact the local gas company. Atmos Energy provides the gas services for most of DFW. You will need to provide basic information and answer questions about any major gas appliances installed in your home.  A letter of credit from your previous company may also be required.  Be sure to call the gas company several days before you move to give the city enough time to inspect the lines and for a technician to turn on the pilot light.

❑ Water & Garbage Collection

Water, sewage, and trash collection are all city services in the DFW Metroplex.  In surrounding towns, utility billing is usually handled at the city offices, even if a service originates from the Dallas or Fort Worth.  Most cities require a $50 deposit to initiate water service at your new location. If you are moving within the county, you will only need to pay a $10 relocation fee. All municipal services, including water, sewage, and recycling, are billed on one monthly statement.

❑ Phone/Internet/Cable

If you have a good record with your previous phone company, you will qualify for phone service with any reputable DFW phone provider. AT&T is the most widely used provider. Be sure to have your new address and previous phone company information available. Depending on your record with the previous company, a deposit may be required to initiate service, but it should be billed on your first monthly statement.

For cable television, most of the DFW area is covered by Time Warner Cable Services. If you prefer satellite providers, DISH Network and DIRECTV are both available in most areas. The good news is that several companies that offer cable also offer high-speed Internet connections so you can consolidate your billing. Arrange a technician visit to your home to set up your cable or satellite on the day you arrive if you need these services right away.

If you are not the DYI type or just don’t have the time, you can research utility concierge services in the DFW Meteroplex that can assist you with getting all of your utilities activated in a few easy steps.  However, you will still be required to provide basic information, so keep your notepad or spreadsheet handy.  Either way, you are now informed and can begin taking measures to avoid the nightmare of arriving to your new home without electricity, water, or even worse – no cable or Internet service!

Happy moving and welcome to Big D!