Content of the material
- What are utilities?
- Utility costs landlords may cover
- What Utilities are Included in my Lease?
- Utility Costs Landlords (might) Cover
- Review your Lease or Rental Agreement
- Air conditioning
- Tips to Save Money on Your Electric Bill
- Consider Smart or Energy-efficient light bulbs
- Shop Utility Providers (and/or negotiate)
- How Much are Utilities in a studio or 1-bedroom apartment?
- Average Utility Bills by City
- Money-Saving Ideas
- Average Cost of Utilities in Every U.S. State
- What Is the Average Gas Bill?
- Ways to keep your average utility costs low
- How Much is the Average Water Bill?
- How to Save Money on Your Water Bill
- How Much Does Heating and Cooling Your Apartment Cost?
- How much do utilities cost per month?
- How Much Is the Natural Gas Bill in Texas?
- Non-energy-related utilities and their costs
- Utility Costs
- Final Thoughts
What are utilities?Utilities fall into six categories:
- Electricity/gas (in addition to heating/cooling, this covers lighting and general electrical needs)
- Landline phone
If you’re moving into a new place, you can sometimes find out the average cost of utilities in that area by asking a landlord, apartment manager, or realtor.
If you’re renting, the landlord or manager may understand utility costs from other residents or may be able to connect you with someone currently living there. If you’re buying a home, a realtor should be able to provide you with copies of the current homeowner’s utility bills.
Utility costs landlords may cover
When shopping around for an apartment, be sure to ask the apartment manager for details about utility costs before you sign the lease. Find out what the landlord is responsible for and what you’re responsible for. Be sure to get this written down in the lease if you decide to rent the apartment.
In the apartment listing, you may see a short blurb about what landlords cover.
Some utility costs covered by your landlord may include:
- Water: Landlords usually cover the cost of water each month. The national average cost of water per unit is around $40 per month.
- Garbage: The average cost of residential trash collection is between $12 to $20 per month, according to the National Solid Wastes Management Association
- Electric stove: In older units, landlords may cover the cost of an electric stove
Landlords usually won’t cover the cost of electricity, so be prepared to pay for this.
What Utilities are Included in my Lease?
When on the hunt for apartments, one of the things on your list of questions, should be to ask the property manager for details about the utilities prior to signing on the bottom line.
The last thing you want to do is accidentally get in over your head financially and then have to break the lease, likely incurring even more penalties.
Utility Costs Landlords (might) Cover
Before we can estimate the average cost of your apartments utility bills, we need to first establish which energy bills you’re actually responsible for. Despite what you may have been told verbally if it’s not in writing on a legally binding agreement, it doesn’t count.
Review your Lease or Rental Agreement
Step one is to get out the apartments lease agreement and READ IT CAREFULLY. There should be a section labeled “Utilities” or similar. This section should define what is and is not included in your monthly rent payment.
Most apartments include water and trash in the rent, however, this may not always be the case. Often a tenant will be responsible energy bills like gas, electric, and any other optional utilities.
If something is unclear, or if certain utilities are not listed at all on the apartments lease agreement, always ask to get it in writing as to who is responsible for what energy bill.
On average, expect to pay about $250-$300 per year for air conditioning. That said, air conditioning isn’t an evenly-distributed expense: Most people only use it about three to five months a year. And, in some places, like Minnesota or Maine, you may only use it a few times a summer, which makes it a much smaller expense.
If you live in a place with average weather, you’ll be running your A/C May-September and spending about $50-$80 a month extra on your electric bill. However, if you live in a really hot place, like Phoenix or Dallas, you’re going to be paying a lot more per month, for more months — $80-$90 a month (plus regular electricity costs), for eight months a year. So keep that in mind. Your silver lining is that you don’t have to worry much about heating costs.
Tips to Save Money on Your Electric Bill
Consider Smart or Energy-efficient light bulbs
You might not realize it, but lighting costs account for up to 12% of the energy used in apartment life. This can really add up over time.
Smart bulbs are more expensive, but over time can save you big on your energy costs. Not only are they LED and energy-efficient (using an average of 75% less energy when ‘on’), they also know when to turn off, making sure the rooms are only lit when they need to be.
Can’t afford smart bulbs? Stick with LED energy efficient ones and you’ll still save an average of 75% when in use.
Shop Utility Providers (and/or negotiate)
If you are allowed to choose who you purchase your utilities from, you may have several options to choose from in that neighborhood. Once you find out who the gas and electric providers are, call them, get a quote from each and then tell each what the other offered and try negotiating for the lowest energy price.
Similarly, cable and internet can almost always be negotiated for a better rate. Not very good at negotiation? There are services online that will negotiate your cable and internet bills for you (for a small fee).
How Much are Utilities in a studio or 1-bedroom apartment?
The basics, electricity, heat, and water for a 1 bedroom apartment or studio will be somewhere between $85 and $125. If you include cable and internet, that will be an extra $100-$200 per month. Living alone does mean you will cut down on some utilities because you won’t have as many people using appliances, taking showers, and doing other things that run up the bills. But unless you live with a significant other, you’ll be footing the entire bill by yourself, which can get costly.
Monthly, expect to pay about $45. Keep in mind that you can split the cost with as many other people as are using your connection, so if you have two roommates, that’s only $15 a person per month. The other thing to consider is bundling your Internet with your cable. You can often get a deal that way, if you decide you want cable.
Average Utility Bills by City
Making a move to a new city, and not sure how much your new utility bill will be? Find out how much the average utility costs will be in your next home to properly map out your monthly budget.
Cities Average Electricity Bill Average Gas Bill Average Water Bill Average Fuel Bill Total Average Utility Bill New York, NY$144.72$83.44$39.70$15.80$283.65Los Angeles, CA$139.16$47.38$58.68$0.45$245.67Chicago, IL$110.49$79.70$47.92$0.58$238.69Dallas, TX$169.77$31.15$59.63$0.50$261.05Houston, TX$165.16$28.30$46.20$0.49$240.15Philadelphia, PA$144.67$71.84$48.82$13.46$278.80Atlanta, GA$149.91$58.15$40.86$0.86$249.78Washington, DC$144.79$54.36$47.41$4.50$251.06Miami, FL$160.05$5.72$52.87$0.33$218.97Boston, MA$144.90$79.25$49.16$29.57$302.88
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Average cost: $28 (single) – $116 (family)
In the US, water usage and cost are measured per 1,000 gallons. On average, 1,000 gallons cost around $11.48. It is estimated that a single American household uses around 328 gallons of water per day, which amounts to around $3.76 daily.
If you have a water bill that is regularly higher than the average, it usually means that you are not using the water in your home efficiently.
- Use a dishwasher because it uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Seriously. A dishwasher only uses three gallons of water per use, but washing dishes by hand can use up to 27 gallons of water per use!
- Fill up your dishwasher to the maximum recommended load before running a cycle.
- Take showers instead of baths. A shower only consumes around 25 gallons of water on average, but a bath can easily double that amount.
- Check your pipes and faucets regularly for leaks.
Average Cost of Utilities in Every U.S. State
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What Is the Average Gas Bill?
When it comes to gas costs, southern states see some of the lowest prices, followed by the West Coast — due to both low monthly consumption and moderate prices. The lowest averages are found in Florida with a $38 average gas bill; Arizona with $46; and Louisiana with $47. In Idaho, Nevada, California and New Mexico, the average gas bill is less than $60. And, while most people use gas for heating their homes and cooking, average amounts may differ because the provider or local administrator could include additional fixed charges or taxes on the bill.
For instance, the average gas bill for a one-bedroom apartment will be around $46 per month during the cold season if your gas-fueled appliances are highly efficient. But, remember that weather is also an important variable and low temperatures during winter will significantly increase the heating bill. Consequently, the average gas bill for a three-bedroom apartment with a high-efficiency furnace and/or water heater can reach slightly more than $61. But, if you have low- to average-efficiency appliances, expect to pay more than $70 for a three-bedroom rental.
Ways to keep your average utility costs low
These days, technology has made it a lot easier and less expensive to purchase gadgets that help you understand how much energy you’re consuming.
You can try searching in your area for energy-efficient apartments, which are equipped with things like ENERGY STAR appliances and improved insulation. This can help keep the heat in during the winter and the hot air out during the summers.
There are also federal ENERGY STAR programs that certify multifamily apartments and condos that are at least 15 percent more energy efficient.
According to ENERGY STAR, you can make these simple swaps and save some money.
- Replace your five most frequently used light fixtures to energy-efficient ones. Savings: Around $65 a year.
- Turn off lights when leaving a room. Savings: Around $15 a year.
- Get a programmable thermostat and set it to a more efficient temperature when you’re sleeping or not home. Savings: Up to $150 a year.
How Much is the Average Water Bill?
The average monthly water bill is around $28 for a single adult and $116 per month for a family household.
Water use and cost is measured per 1,000 gallons. The average cost of water per 1,000 gallons sits at $11.48.
Additionally, the average American is estimated to use 82 gallons of water a day at home. Combined, this data suggests that the average single American racks up a $.94 water use debt daily.
How to Save Money on Your Water Bill
Careless water usage can not only affect your water bill, but it can have detrimental effects on the environment.
Here's how you can reduce your water usage.
- Invest in a dishwasher. Handwashing dishes can use up to 27 gallons of water, whereas using a dishwasher uses just 3 gallons of water per load.
- Consider getting an ENERGY STAR certified washing machine: Using an ENERGY STAR certified washing machine can result in 25% less energy use and 33% less water usage than a regular washer.
- Fix a running toliet Running toilets are those that continuously use water to fill the toilet bowl. These toilets need repairing or replacement, since can cause a loss of up to 26 gallons of water per day.
- Take shorter showers. A single bath can use up to 50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute shower can use as little as 25 gallons of water.
How Much Does Heating and Cooling Your Apartment Cost?
Nearly half of the money spent on an average electricity/gas bill covers heating and air conditioning costs. This averages to over $900 a year for the average American household.
Here's a few tips that’ll help you save big on your heating bill.
- Invest in a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat reduces unnecessary heating and cooling costs by giving you more control over the settings. Some electricity providers offer incentives for customers who install compliant smart thermostats, so it’s a bonus win.
- Heat your home more effectively. Unless you live in a place that experiences freezing temperatures, you may get away with reducing your heating costs by simply bunding up a bit more in the cooler months.
- Don’t rely on A/C alone to cool your home. Limit A/C use by employing other, more eco- and budget-friendly options. Keep your windows open at night to let in cooler air. Then close them during the day to keep warm air out. If possible, keep one room cool and spend more time in there, rather than trying to cool your entire apartment.
How much do utilities cost per month?
Adding everything we just talked about together, that’s a total of $419 , divided into $140 for electricity, $24 for water monthly, $110 for natural gas, $85 for cable, and $60 for the internet. That is how much the average Texan pays each month without factoring in the money-saving tricks we listed in each section.
How Much Is the Natural Gas Bill in Texas?
A lot of people rely on natural gas for heating their houses and apartments. Not all people do, though. Around 70% of people use natural gas furnaces to heat their homes, the other 30% mainly being electric furnaces, especially in northern states. The situation is a little bit different in Texas. Since Texas’s climate is warmer overall than most other states, high-performance natural gas heaters aren’t needed as much as in the northern states. As a result, electric heaters typically have the lowest upfront costs. This is why only 40 percent of people living in Texas opt for natural gas heaters . Still, 40% of Texas is a lot of people, and those people typically have to pay a natural gas bill of $110.58 on average , which is pretty good compared to other states and the US average. In fact, Texas ranks the 12th lowest according to natural gas prices.
Some homes have relatively poor heat insulation, which puts more pressure on the heating system to keep up with heat seeping into the house in the cold months and effortlessly out of the house in the hotter summer months. As you might expect, having good heat insulation installed can significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the house. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that people can save 15% of all heating and cooling costs by adding quality insulation in the crawl spaces and attics , saving the average Joe about $200 every year.
From a studio apartment to a 4-bedroom apartment, here’s how much you can expect to pay for natural gas monthly:
- The monthly gas bill for a studio apartment is $16.34
- The monthly gas bill for a 1-bedroom apartment is $18.85
- The monthly gas bill for a 2-bedroom apartment is $37.36
- The monthly gas bill for a 3-bedroom apartment is $52.21
- The monthly gas bill for a 4-bedroom apartment is $70.41
Typically, your electrical bill and natural gas bill will be lumped together. If you want to dive deeper into what your bill summary would be, you can head to your utility provider’s website. There, you’ll find a quick overview of how much gas and electricity you’ve used.
Quick tip: When moving to a new apartment in Texas, try considering appliances that use natural gas. This is mainly because natural gas appliances tend to be less expensive than electrical appliances.
Non-energy-related utilities and their costs
Of course, there’s more to utility costs than just energy. How much are utilities in non-energy areas?
- Trash/recycling: Curbside trash and recycling services are often included in city or town fees. But those paying independently should budget $10-$40/month.
- Water: In 2016, American households spent, on average, $15-$77 a month for water, according to the research group Circle of Blue, which focuses on environmental issues.
- Landline: Many people rely on mobile phones, but for those wanting a landline or needing it for internet service, expect to pay $15-$45 a month; the higher cost includes long-distance services. If you prefer to use the internet for making phone calls, voiceover IP service bundles are another option and cost around $20 a month, depending on the number of minutes you purchase in your VoIP plan.
- Internet/cable/phone: A triple package of internet, cable, and phone services average $165 per month; without the phone, the average is $132 a month. Online media-streaming services are an alternative to paying for cable, and they cost an average of $10 per month compared to $60 for a basic cable package.
Total costs for utilities — such as heat, hot water, gas, and electricity — may range from $120 to $450 per month.
- The average cost for local telephone service ranges from $40 to $70 per month. Long-distance calls are billed separately. The cost to install telephone service ranges from $40 to $90.
- The average cost for cable television is $20 to $70 per month. Many cable companies also offer combined cable/internet/telephone service plans for an additional fee.
- Monthly electricity costs vary from $40 to $130 per month, depending on building size and usage.
The voltage used in the United States for small appliances is 110-V (60 cycles). If you bring appliances that use 220-V to 240-V, you must use an adapter.
It is important to know the average utility bill in your apartment for several reasons. First, of course, is to save money. Second, you can find out where you can cut back on energy consumption so that you can be more environmentally-friendly. Finally, saving money on utility bills means that you’ll be able to budget your finances better.
If you’re looking for an energy-efficient apartment, Alex the Alpacabot is here to help you make your search easier!