What is considered a utility in housing? Gas, Electric, Water, Sewer

Are utilities covered by the landlord? – Some utilities may be included in your rent.  You will need to ask the landlord whether any utilities are included.  Often, but not always, water and sewer are included in the rent.

Obtaining utilities in your name – When you rent your own home you will need to get utilities in your name.  

Deposits – If you have never had utilities in your name before, you will probably need to pay a deposit to the utility company.  If you have waiver services, transition services can help you pay this deposit.

Utilities in arrears – If you had utilities in your name before and owe money to the utility company, you will probably not be able to get utilities in your name at your new home until you have paid off the bill you owe.  You can contact the utility company to set up a repayment plan.  It’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible if you are interested in renting a home.  The more time you have to pay off your debt, the better.  

Assistance with utility payments

You may also be eligible for assistance with past due utility bills through the Maryland DHS Office of Home Energy Programs.  The program will pay up to $2,000 in past due utility bills for qualifying households.  For more information, go to
Applying for Energy Assistance – Maryland Department of Human Services

Assistance with utility company disputes – The Maryland Office of People’ Counsel provides assistance with utility company disputes. You can find more information here:
Maryland Office Of People’s Counsel

211 Maryland will help you navigate the maze of assistance programs. They will show you how to apply and common mistakes that you can avoid. 211 Maryland is also here 24/7/365 to answer questions and connect you with resources.
Maryland Energy Assistance

Getting energy assistance will not reduce other public assistance that you may receive, including but not limited to food stamps or Social Security benefits. The utility assistance does not have to be paid back.

There are a number of grants available for heat, electricity, past-due accounts and weatherization.

Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) 

The Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), Nationally known as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), is a federally-funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. LIHEAP can help you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of health and safety problems (such as illness, fire, or eviction).

The Maryland LIHEAP program may be able to offer you one or more of the following types of assistance:

  1. Bill payment assistance.
  2. Energy crisis assistance.
  3. Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Applying for Energy Assistance – Maryland Department of Human Services

Saving on Utility Bills

It is important to be careful with utilities.  It is easy to run up a big bill and get into financial trouble.  The two things that can cause your utility bill to be higher include heat and air conditioning.  If you are careful with these – keeping the heat set between 68 to 70 degrees in winter and the AC set to between 76 and 78 in summer – you will save a lot of money.  In addition, it’s good to turn off lights in the room when you aren’t using it, turn your thermostat up in summer or down in winter when you will be away from your home, turn off the TV when you aren’t actively watching it and keeping windows closed when the heat or AC are on.  For more tips on saving money on electric bills, go to www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/energy_savers.pdf.