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.
Utilities may vary place-by-place, but common utilities include electric, natural gas, water, garbage and sewer services. You may also pay for other utility bills, including telephone and cable bills.
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. If a person depends on well water and a septic system, these are not utilities per se, as they do not receive monthly bills and are personally responsible for repair and upkeep. You are not responsible for the infrastructure aspects of true utilities, such as piping and fiber-optic networks.
Telephone and Cable Services
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. However, you may have more choices compared to gas, water and sewerage providers.
You pay most utility bills each month, although water and sewer may be charged on a quarterly basis. If you fall behind in payments, 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.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.