Moving can be a stressful time. Use these tips to help reduce the anxiety and prevent unexpected expense.
If you are a homeowner
Notify the utility companies of your moving date
Contact each utility company to give them the date to discontinue billing for the service. If you are selling your property, that date will be the day the sale of your home closes. You should also give them the new address for forwarding your final utility bill.
Different retailers have different notification periods. Regulated retailers may only require 3-5 days’ notice while competitive companies may need up to 45 days.
If you move out but still own the property, you are responsible for all monthly utility charges associated with the vacant location, including transmission and distribution charges and local access fees. Ask your retailer to de-energize the property if you want to shut off the services at the property and stop these charges. You may have to pay a reconnection fee once you decide to turn the services back on.
Know your options if you are moving to a new residence
If you already have electricity and/or gas in your name, you may be able to transfer accounts from one billing address to another with the same retailer. Check if your current retailer provides service in the area where you will be living.
If you get your services from a competitive retailer, you have a contract for your energy plan. You may have to pay cancellation fees for ending this contract early. Ask your current retailer about any cancellation fees if you are unsure your billing is through a contract.
For your new residence, you can sign with the regulated retailer or any of the over 30 competitive retailers in Alberta. Use our Cost Comparison Tool to compare plans and rates to find what company works best for you.
Check the thermostat and turn off water and lights before you leave the house on your moving day
On the day you move out, set your thermostat so the house is not too cold in winter or too hot in summer. To avoid frozen pipes in winter, turn off the water if the house will be empty for a few days. You can also take a picture of your meter and send it to your distribution company so they have an accurate reading to apply to your final bill.
If you are a tenant
Contact your utility companies in advance to discontinue services or to schedule transfers
If you get your utilities through a competitive retailer, contact them about a move notice. Some competitive retailers require up to a 45-day notice. Utility services provided by a regulated retailer require only up to five business days’ notice in most cases.
Shortly before your moving date, call each utility service again to make sure that your utility billing service will be discontinued or transferred to your new address. Confirm if you need any appointments to turn on service.
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.
Pay your final utility bill
Make sure you have paid monthly charges for all utilities you were responsible for up to the move out date. Keep in mind that utilities do not bill until several weeks after the actual usage. Expect a final bill within a month of the move out date. Contact your retailer if you did not receive this bill.
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 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 delays in receiving a bill after a tenant has moved, consider setting up a Premise Vacancy Agreement (PVA or Landlord Agreement) with the retailer. The agreement ensures the landlord of a 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. You may need to pay a reconnection fee once you decide to turn the services back on. For electricity, you may also be responsible for idle billing charges while the services are disconnected. Contact your utility company to check if there will be any reconnection or billing fees in your area.
In the winter months, retailers may not be able to disconnect services due to weather conditions. If you have requested service disconnection, you should check at the property shortly after the scheduled disconnection. If services are still active, you should contact your retailer.
For more information on a landlord’s rights and responsibilities, please see the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook for Landlords and Tenants.
How we can help
The Utilities Consumer Advocate’s mediation officers can share advice on comparing utility rates, as well as provide information on utility issues and help settle disputes with your provider. Contact us toll-free at 310-4822, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Contact a Mediation Officer page for more information.