Carnegie Mellon University

Now that you've found a place to live, it's time to make it livable. It's best to arrange for utility service before you move in. Remember, August is a busy move-in time in Pittsburgh, so you should try to make arrangements as early as possible.

Basic utilities include:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water & Sewage
  • Trash Removal
  • Cable & Internet
  • Renter's Insurance
  • Car Insurance

Your specific responsiblities will depend on where you choose to live. Most (though not all) landlords cover water & sewage and trash removal services or charge a fixed monthly payment in addition to your rent. Some apartment buildings also offer cable and internet, which may be included in your rent or available for an additional fee.

Ask your landlord before signing a lease about which utilities you will be responsible for and include the estimated amounts in your rental budget. Also, make sure that you lease clearly lists who is responsible for what.

On average, utilities cost $200-$300/month.

Utility costs vary significantly depending on the type of dwelling, the type heat you have (gas or electric), whether you choose to buy cable, whether you use an air conditioner, or how high you set your thermostat in the winter. You can request an estimate of the previous tenant's utility bills by calling the utility company directly.

It is not uncommon for heating bills to be high during the winter ($100 or more). However, most gas companies offer a budget payment plan to spread out the cost of high bills over the year. To sign up for a budget payment plan, contact the utility company directly.

You can set up utilities by calling the companies directly. The company that supplies utilities to your apartment or house depends on the area that you live in. Ask your landlord or refer to the lease to determine which companies to contact.

  • Electric and gas service will most likely be turned on at your apartment prior to your arrival. However, you must transfer those services to your name on the date that your lease begins. Call ahead to arrange for service to be transfered to your name so that you won't have to do it while you're moving in!
  • Cable and internet service may require that a technician come to your home to set up service. Since August is a busy time, schedule an appointment as early as possible so that you're not stuck without internet when the semester starts!
  • Car insurance is legally required if you own or maintain a vehicle in Pittsburgh.
  • Renter's insurance is highly recommended. Renter's insurance will cover the cost of your property in the case of fire, theft, or other damage.

Some utilities — especially cable television and cell phones — might require you to sign a service contract. These contracts may require you to pay an early termination fee if you cancel your service before the contract term expires or may automatically renew at the end of the term. If you will only reside in Pittsburgh for one year, consider signing up for service that does not require a contract.



Natural Gas
Water & Sewage

Determined by neighborhood. Ask your landlord.

Garbage & Recycling

Determined by neighborhood. Ask your landlord.

Cable, Phone, Internet
Renter's & Car Insurance


Some students are told that they need a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) before they are able to establish telephone or other utility services. This information is incorrect. Students who do not have an SSN may have to complete an application and submit copies of documents (such as a passport and a student ID) and may have to pay a deposit. If the employee you are speaking with seems unaware of the procedure for starting service without an SSN, politely ask to speak with a manager or call back and talk to another employee.