Managing what to do with utilities when house is vacant can often feel overwhelming, especially with the complexities of handling water, gas, and electricity. This becomes a critical concern whether you’re temporarily vacating your home, dealing with a property inherited or sold, or embarking on a lengthy vacation. Understanding how these circumstances affect your utility bills and the overall safety of your home is vital.
In this blog post, we will delve into the essential steps on what to do with utilities when a house is vacant. We’ll offer practical tips to not only help you minimize costs but also ensure your property remains secure and well-maintained.
Table of Contents
Keeping Utilities On Or Off For A Vacant House
It is important to keep utilities on in a vacant house to prevent potential issues such as frozen pipes, but non-essential utilities can be turned off to save money.
Importance Of Keeping Utilities On
It is essential to keep certain utilities on in a vacant house for several reasons, such as preventing damage and ensuring the property remains safe.
For instance, maintaining heat and electricity can prevent pipes from freezing during colder months. Frozen pipes may lead to cracks or breaks, causing costly water damage and potential mold growth inside the home.
In many cases, turning off utilities completely might not be feasible due to ongoing renovations or construction projects requiring access to electricity or water services.
Real estate agents often recommend sellers leave their utilities connected through the escrow process until after closing day so that appraisers and potential buyers can conduct walk-throughs of the home without any problems.
Moreover, functional utilities contribute to a smooth inspection process as prospective buyers need them for checking appliances like furnaces and water heaters during inspections.
How To Turn Off Non-essential Utilities
Turning off non-essential utilities in a vacant house is crucial to save costs and avoid potential hazards. As the heir of a deceased person, you can follow these steps to ensure safety and efficiency:
- Contact utility providers: Reach out to your current utility providers, such as water, gas, and electricity companies, and inform them about the situation.
- Unplug electronics: Disconnect all electronic devices like TVs, computers, lamps, and kitchen appliances to avoid energy consumption and potential electrical issues.
- Turn off the water main valve: Locate the water main valve inside or outside the property and turn it off to prevent leaks and damage from potentially frozen pipes.
- Drain remaining water: Open all faucets inside the house to drain any remaining water from the pipes, especially if the property will be vacant during winter months.
- Shut off gas supply at source: Close the gas valve near your meter or propane tank to avoid any leaks or accidents involving natural gas.
- Cancel unnecessary services: Discontinue services like cable TV, landline phones, or internet subscriptions that are no longer needed for a vacant home.
- Adjust thermostat settings: Set the thermostat at an optimal temperature (around 55°F) to protect against freezing pipes while minimizing heating expenses during colder months.
- Ensure outdoor lighting remains functional: Keep porch lights on with energy-efficient bulbs or motion-sensor lights for added security and deterrence against burglars.
- Consider smart home technology: Install remote monitoring systems or smart thermostats to track utility usage and control settings from afar if needed.
By taking these steps in turning off non-essential utilities in a vacant house left by a deceased loved one, you can ensure proper management of resources while minimizing risks associated with leaving utilities running unattended for extended periods.
Managing Utility Costs
Learn how to cut down costs and cancel unnecessary utility services when managing an empty house to avoid spending more money than you need to.
Tips For Reducing Utility Costs
As the heir of a deceased person, managing utility costs in a vacant house can be crucial to maintaining its value and preparing it for future use. Here are some tips to help you reduce utility costs:
- Turn off non-essential utilities: Assess which utilities are critical to keep running, such as heat and electricity to prevent freezing pipes, and turn off those that are not necessary.
- Unplug appliances and electronics: Disconnect any unused devices, as they may still consume energy even when not in active use.
- Adjust the thermostat: Set the temperature at a lower level but still high enough to prevent freezing pipes during colder months.
- Insulate your home: Ensure proper insulation to reduce heat loss and energy consumption.
- Seal gaps around windows and doors: This prevents drafts and helps maintain steady indoor temperatures with minimal energy expenditure.
- Install energy-efficient lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs, which consume less energy while providing sufficient lighting.
- Regularly maintain heating and cooling systems: Schedule routine maintenance for furnaces and air conditioning units to ensure they operate efficiently.
- Use smart thermostats or timers: These devices can automatically adjust temperatures based on occupancy patterns, helping conserve energy in an unoccupied house.
- Monitor utility usage: Keep track of monthly bills and usage patterns to identify potential issues or areas where further reduction efforts may be needed.
- Consider alternative energy sources: If feasible, explore options like solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity independently from traditional providers while reducing long-term costs associated with grid dependency.
How To Cancel Unnecessary Services
Canceling unnecessary services is an essential step in managing utilities for a vacant house. Here are some tips to help you navigate this process:
- Determine which services are necessary: Review your utility bills and determine which services you need to keep on or cancel. If you have already moved out, consider turning off all non-essential utilities.
- Contact your service provider: Contact your utility providers and let them know that you will be canceling your service and the date it will be effective.
- Provide final meter readings: When canceling services like water, gas, or electricity, provide final meter readings to ensure accurate billing.
- Schedule disconnection date: Ensure that the service provider has scheduled a disconnection date for all canceled services and confirm this with them.
- Return equipment: Make sure to return any equipment that was issued by the service provider such as cable boxes or modems.
- Pay outstanding balances: Ensure that all outstanding balances are paid before canceling services to avoid any late fees or additional charges.
- Provide forwarding address: Provide the utility company with a forwarding address where they can send the final bill or any other important information related to the account.
By following these steps, you can cancel unnecessary services for a vacant house and avoid paying for utilities that you are not using. It is also important to keep in mind that even if no one is living in the house, there might still be ongoing construction projects or water leaks, requiring periodic inspections of plumbing connections and other systems in place in the property during periods of vacancy.
Finalizing Utility Accounts
To finalize utility accounts for a vacant house, contact each provider to transfer or cancel the account and update billing information.
How To Transfer Or Cancel Utility Accounts
If you are the heir of a deceased person and need to transfer or cancel utility accounts for their vacant house, here are some steps to follow:
- Contact the Utility Companies: Notify all utility companies (water, gas, electricity) about the vacancy. Some providers may have specific procedures in place for transferring or canceling accounts in these situations.
- Provide Necessary Documents: The utility company may require documentation to prove that you are authorized to handle the account, such as a death certificate or legal paperwork.
- Transfer Accounts: If there will be future tenants or new owners of the property, you can transfer the utility accounts into their name instead of canceling them altogether.
- Cancel Unnecessary Services: If there are any unnecessary services connected to the property such as internet or cable television, it is recommended to cancel those services to avoid any unnecessary costs.
- Check Billing Information: Confirm that all billing information is correct for each provider and make sure any final bills are paid before closing out the accounts.
Following these steps can help ensure a smooth transition when transferring or canceling utilities for a vacant house belonging to a deceased person, potentially saving time and money on bills no longer necessary. It’s important to note that some utilities (like heat and electricity) should remain on during this process to prevent damage from occurring in the property due to freezing pipes.
Updating Billing Information
Once you have decided to transfer or cancel utility accounts for a vacant house inherited from your loved one, it’s important to update billing information. This includes changing the name on the account and providing new contact information if necessary.
You can call your utility companies’ customer service number or visit their website to update your account details. It’s essential to make sure that the correct person is responsible for any bills associated with an empty property, as unpaid balances will ultimately affect credit scores and could result in late fees or disconnection of services.
Conclusion – What To Do With Utilities When House Is Vacant
In conclusion, managing utilities in a vacant house is a crucial task that requires careful consideration and planning. Whether you are planning to sell your property or move to a new place temporarily, it’s essential to keep utility bills under control while maintaining the safety of the property.
Remember to notify your current utility providers and research providers in your new area. Keep heat and electricity on during vacant periods but turn off non-essential services, cancel unnecessary accounts, update billing information and closely manage costs.