Who should I tell that I'm moving home?
There is probably quite a long list of everyone who needs to know (which is why sitting down and making a checklist in advance is an evening well spent). Apart from friends and family, schools, clubs, Amazon, Ebay, Royal Mail and so on, there are all the organisations who provide your household services. Gas and electricity, water, council tax, TV licensing, phone, broadband, media etc.
Usually, for gas and electricity, moving home should be pretty straightforward. It helps if you can let your energy company know in advance that you’re moving. At ENGIE, we can then make it easier for you to get set up in your new home too. When it comes to moving day, you just need to give your old energy company your final meter readings before you move out. If you're rushed off your feet, you don’t have to let them know on the day. What you can do is take a photo of the meter dials or display with your smart phone on the last day (because it’s really easy and gets date stamped) and phone them in when you're settled in your new place.
What about my new home?
Try to take a meter reading for gas and electricity as soon as you can after moving in. Your new home will usually have a gas and electricity supply already set up by the previous occupants. For brand new developments, this will have been the builder. When you move into your new home, you become a customer of that existing energy supplier. As soon as you start using gas or electricity in your new home, you are deemed to have entered into a contract with that supplier. The plan – or tariff – you’ll be put on by default will often be one of the more expensive ones, so it’s worth shopping round for a better or cheaper plan straight away. Even if you apply to a new supplier, it’ll usually take at least 17 days to make the switch, so, the sooner you start the ball rolling the better.
If you’re renting, you normally retain the right to change energy suppliers, although this might depend on your tenancy agreement. If in doubt, speak to your letting agent or landlord. In any event, you’ll normally become liable for the energy used in the property from the start of your tenancy, even if you don’t move in on that day. But the changeover process is the same, whether you rent or own the place you’ve moved into.
Getting to know your new home
Chances are your new home will have a different set of boiler and heating controls from your old home. It’ll also have very different heating characteristics, like heating up more quickly or being more draughty. You’ll probably have to get used to a different programmer or thermostat and use a bit of trial and error to get the settings right for you. It may have a smart meter or smart thermostat fitted, which could give you more information and control over your heating, electrical and lighting systems.
It’s worth spending some time familiarising yourself with these new bits of equipment and appliances. Working out what you want to keep and what needs to change. Swapping light bulbs for low energy LED lights can bring significant savings and is best done early. The same goes for old, energy-inefficient kitchen appliances, particularly things like fridges that are on continuously.
One of your best energy investments could be a whirligig clothes line if there’s space outside. This is great for saving energy when compared to a tumble drier, which uses a huge amount of electricity and takes up valuable space in the kitchen or utility room, not to mention the fact that it normally has to vent outside through a hole in the wall which can be draughty.
Making your new home energy efficient
You’ve probably had a good look around before you moved in, but there are things that are difficult to spot without spending some time there, like draughts and gaps in windows and doors, or how well the roof or floors are insulated. If you can, try to find the time to go around your new home to evaluate all those elements that might be helping to increase or reduce your energy use. That pleasant flow of fresh air in the summer may turn into an unpleasant cold draught in winter, resulting in increased costs to heat your home.
Make a list of all the jobs which could be done, then try to prioritise them into how difficult they are to do (is it an easy DIY job or something best left to the professionals?), and how much they are likely to save over the time you think you’ll stay in the property. Top of your list will probably be insulation and draught-proofing. A cheap and easy DIY job for some, it can deliver meaningful savings and an immediate improvement in comfort and cosiness. Definitely worth getting on with soon after moving in.
Getting to grips with your energy bills
You might use more or less energy in your new home than before, especially if your move was to accommodate for a change in your family set up. Starting a family or adding to the household numbers – elderly relatives moving in, or a new baby, can have a substantial impact on your energy use. Particularly if you need the heating on more than you did in your old place.
Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid the unpleasant surprise of a larger than expected energy bill. Your energy supplier should help you minimise the impact of your bills by encouraging you to set up a monthly Direct Debit. They’ll try to make an informed assessment of what your energy use is likely to be over the whole year, and divide it into twelve equal payments. They’ll normally review these every six months or so to make sure you're on track, and they might need to increase payments, but they ought to avoid the phenomenon of ‘bill shock’ – getting hit with a huge bill out of the blue, usually sometime shortly after Christmas and the new year when money can be the most tight for some.
Sometimes, moving home can put an extra strain on your finances, and if you do find yourself struggling to pay your energy bills, the best thing to do is call your energy supplier – you certainly won’t be the first person to do this, and they’ll normally be understanding. Most energy companies will offer support and practical help, including information about how to reduce your bills. In some cases, you might even find you’re eligible for grants and support with improving your home’s energy efficiency with things like loft and wall insulation.