Leave On, Turn Off, or Transfer?
Transferring a house is only a part of the process. You are moving and must also transfer utilities, mail, and other services. Once you receive an offer, make a list of the utilities and other services that you need to change. These may include:
Sewer or septic service
TV and cable
Regular deliveries such as milk or bottled water
The processes required to transfer all these services can take some time. You will have a lot to do, and it is wise to start a little early. After you have reviewed the list to be sure you have included everything, call each service provider individually. Ask how much time they need to transfer the service into another person's name. Some may be able to do it in a day or less. Some will need time to read meters or collect other information to determine final billing, which could take a week or more. Once you know the time frames, add that information to the list. This will allow you to take care of the transfers as late as possible—hopefully, after all the contingencies are removed.
You may want to give this list to the buyers or their agent as a courtesy—to be sure they have everything turned on in their name as you turn it off. This can prevent downtime of the utilities. Downtime is a strong disadvantage in the winter with no heat (potential for frozen pipes) or in the summer with no air conditioning (potential for heat stroke).
Even if you move out early, do not turn off the utilities before you close escrow. If there is a problem, such as frozen pipes, it will likely be your responsibility.