Dealing with utilities when living off campus

Living off-campus during your college years comes with a different set of challenges for each person, but one of the more common ones faced when first moving away from campus is setting up utilities.

Some utilities like water, natural gas and electricity are necessities to be able to live comfortably, while others like cable television and internet are options that some, but not all, students decide to pay for.

To help, the City of Bloomington's website has a “Utilities Information” page that has a list of utilities and links to the companies providing them to Bloomington residents.

For example, electricity is serviced by Duke Energy and Vectren is the natural gas provider. Some utilities like telephone, internet and cable television service have several options that residents can select, such as AT&T or Xfinity. 

Sanitation duties are handled by City of Bloomington Sanitation Services, while water, wastewater and stormwater services in the city are provided by City of Bloomington Utilities.

But where you live can determine whether or not you even need to worry about setting up certain utilities. 

Sophomore Brandon Hernandez said after signing a lease to live with two friends at an off-campus apartment, they received information telling them who to set up certain services with, such as electricity with Duke Energy.

But Hernandez said despite the recommendation to set up cable television, it wasn’t required, so he and his roommates decided to just get internet service to save money.

Since not all off-campus apartments and houses have the same services included in a lease, some IU students will still find themselves having to pay for water services from the city.

Jon Callahan, public affairs specialist for City of Bloomington Utilities, said water and sewer services can be set up and paid for either in person at the city’s Utilities Service Center or online.

When doing this, or setting up any utility for a new address, Callahan said it’s important to make sure all information entered is correct.

Whether it’s a water bill or an electric bill, the price you pay varies based on usage.

Hernandez lives with two other people and said the electricity bill for his apartment has never been more than $200, which occurred during the winter months once he and his roommates began using their heater.

For water usage, Callahan said simple measures like shutting the water off while brushing your teeth, reducing the amount of time showering and doing large loads of laundry instead of smaller ones are easy ways to reduce costs.

But before anything is done utilities-wise, it's important to read through the lease to determine what you will need and if there are any ways you can reduce your costs.

Hernandez said each unit in his apartment complex is different, like the apartment across the hall, which is powered by natural gas heating instead of electric heating like Hernandez’s. Because the lease for the complex's apartments covers the cost of natural gas, Hernandez’s neighbors have a much lower electricity bill.

One piece of advice Hernandez said he would give to IU students preparing to live off campus for the first time would be to deeply research the places they're interested in living and also to consult their parents before signing a lease.

“Talk to your parents, they obviously have more experience and can give input,” Hernandez said. “I just remember reading the lease and was like, ‘I’m signing here no matter what.”

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.


Comments powered by Disqus