Utilities are services provided by a government or government-approved provider to property owners, and include such things as the means to heat and cool a residence or business building. You’ll have limited options when it comes to choosing utilities, and without them might not be able to occupy a property.
The most common utilities include electricity, natural gas, water, garbage pickup and sewer service. You get electricity and gas from private companies that are heavily regulated by local and state governments, and your choices of service providers will be very limited. People who live in or near towns or cities normally get water, sewerage and garbage service from the town or city. Until the advent of cell phones, telephone companies were considered utilities because they had service areas awarded by governments with little or no competition. This was because the service was provided by expensive telephone lines, making it unprofitable for many companies to install lines and fight over the number of customers available. Because cable choices are limited and regulated, some people consider cable a utility.
You pay utility bills each month, but if you fall behind, your service won’t automatically be shut off. To protect disadvantage people from losing heat in the winter or cooling in the summer, governments set review procedures that utilities must follow before they can disconnect service. You can pay your bills using a check or an online payment system, in much the same way you pay credit card bills.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images