Utilities, Renters Insurance, and Voter Registration
An important part of moving into your new place is setting up all the services and utilities. Here is some basic information to help you get started.
Garbage, Recycling, and Compost
If you live in an apartment, you probably don’t need to arrange for garbage and recycling pick-up, but if you live in a house you may need to set up service. Garbage and recycling collection in Bellingham/Whatcom County is provided by Sanitary Service Company, Inc. You can contact them at 360.734.3490 or check out their website.
Water and Sewage
Check with your property owner to see if water and sewage is included with your rent. If it is not, make sure the water account is put in your name so you can start receiving bills. To change account information or find out about rates and billing, contact the City of Bellingham Finance Department at 360.778.8010.
If you have a water pipe break, or suspect a water main leak, call City of Bellingham Public Works at 360.676.6850 during regular working hours or 360.676.6896 after hours.
In Bellingham, electricity is provided by Puget Sound Energy. To set up your electricity billing and ask any questions about rates, contact them by calling 1.888.225.5773 or check out their website.
If you experience a power outage or electric hazardous condition, call a Puget Sound Energy (PSE) representative 24 hours a day toll-free at 1.888.225.5773.
If you have a gas stove or heating system, you will need to set up an account with Cascade Natural Gas. You can contact them by calling 1.888.522.1130 or visiting their website.
You can report a gas leak, carbon monoxide alarm, line break, or any other gas service emergency by contacting Cascade Natural Gas at 1.888.522.1130, 24 hours a day. Please do not make emergency requests via email or the Internet.
When you move to a new address, you need to notify the post office by filling out a change of address form, which can be found online or at your local post office. For more information, visit the US Postal Service website.
Don't forget to provide your school with your current contact information! This information is critical in an emergency and also allows your school to provide you with important information for your off-campus life.
Steps for WWU students to update address info:
- Go to www.wwu.edu and sign in to “My Western”
- Click on the Web4U icon at the top of your page
- In Web4U, use the “Personal Info” tab to update your contact information
You might decide you don't need internet and/or cable in your new place - that is ok! If you do think you want to add that to your list of utilities, there are many options for internet/cable providers. We recommend taking some time to research those options in order to find the right company/price for you. Check your local listings to find the internet/cable providers available in Whatcom County. Don't forget to mention that you are a student at WWU - there might be a promotion or discount available!
Have you thought about buying renters insurance? Your parents' home-owners insurance might cover your personal items in some cases, but it is important to verify that before making assumptions! If your personal belongings are not otherwise covered, renters insurance is a good option (and not as expensive as you might think). Students who have a laptop computer, a tablet, smartphone, flat screen TV, DSLR camera, or pricey outdoor equipment might stand a lot to lose from disaster or theft.
If you need help comparing options and want a price quote, check out InsuranceQuotes.org's Renters Insurance Guide which provides comprehensive resources, clear information, and quotes about your insurance coverage. The mission of InsuranceQuotes.org is to help individuals make smarter and more financially secure decisions. Renters insurance is a common policy option, but few people consider purchasing it because of misinformation ("I'm covered by my landlord's") or that it's so expensive ("It must be as expensive as homeowner's insurance). Their guide outlines why these statements are false and how renters insurance can protect a renter's finances. Remember to take advantage of discounts that may be available to you as an enrolled student or a current policy holder (for example you might be able to save if you bundle your car and renters insurance)!
When you turn 18, you are eligible to vote. This is an exciting privilege! You must be a resident of Washington State and have lived in Bellingham for 30 days prior to an election. To register to vote in Whatcom County, contact the Whatcom County Auditor at 360.676.6742, or register online at My Vote.