How Much Should I Spend for Apartment Utilities?

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Tips for Saving Money on Your Internet Bill

A little hunting for a special offer can go a long way if you want to save money on your internet bill. First, check what your options are from various local providers so that you’re aware of the normal prices on the market. Then, look for any special offers, sign-up bonuses or discounts. You can also contact customer service and ask for a personalized deal. Usually, they’re willing to offer a discount if you’re willing to commit to their service.

Phones The Cost of Staying Connected and Secure

Average Phone Bill: $15 – $30/month

Yes, we know, landline phones are so 90’s.

But, over half of the country, still uses a home p

But, over half of the country, still uses a home phone.

So it’s a cost to consider.

For those who need one, you can expect to pay between $15 – $30 per month.

Most major cable companies will offer to include a home phone line in your TV or internet package.

How Much is the Average Gas Bill?

Hot water, heating, and your stove could all impact your gas bill. Your average gas bill will likely be around $9 to $152 per month, but it'll depend on your appliances, where you live, and usage. Natural gas appliances tend to be cheaper than their electric counterparts, something to consider while apartment hunting.

Your gas bill and electric bill will typically be lumped together. Going on your utility provider’s website and looking at a bill summary will give you an overview of your gas and electricity usage.

How to Save Money on Your Gas Bill

When it comes to gas use, heating and cooling are going to be the primary culprits of a high gas bill. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to reduce gas use.

Here are three heating and cooling tips to help you lower your gas bill.

  • Don't turn your heat all the way down. It takes more energy and gas to heat your home warmer from 50℉ to 65℉ than it would take to heat it from 60℉ to 65℉.
  • Reduce drafts. In cooler months, poorly-insulated windows and doors can be drafty which reduces the efficiency of your heating. Take time to identify and reduce drafts in your home, especially if you live in an older homes or an apartment unit!
  • Reduce oven use in the summer. If possible, stick to stovetop recipes in the summer months. Heating a gas-powered oven can use up a lot of gas and oven use in warmer months can cause your apartment to heat up.

Other Utilities

Other utilities can include trash collection, cell service, and cable. Generally, these services are separate from your regular utility bills, so you need to check what other utilities you have to pay for on a monthly basis.

For phone and cable, look for bundled services if you need them. However, if you have a fast Internet connection, you might not even need to use these services.

Trash collection rates are determined by your local government or by private trash collection companies. Ask your landlord how trash collection is handled in your apartment.

The Effect of Roommates on Cost of Utilities

So we’ve been looking at the average costs of utilities for an average family, but how does having a roommate affect what you eventually end up paying?

If you are lucky, a roommate can help alleviate the burden of paying for utilities. 

Having a roommate can also give you a chance to live in a neighborhood that you may otherwise not afford. 

However, if you’re unlucky and end up with a roommate from hell, you may find yourself having more uncomfortable conversations than you want. 

You can avoid the uncomfortable discussions if you’re willing to do the following before agreeing to move in with a roommate. 

Agree Before Moving In Together

Roommates talking together in living-room

Roommates talking together in living-room

If you can’t have an open discussion with someone, then you’re not likely to be good roommates with that person. Good roommates are clear about their expenses and how each one will contribute to the costs and do their best to keep them low.

Write It Down 

Yes, your roommate may be your friend, but you still need to have a formal agreement about your accommodation sharing arrangements and how you will pay the bills. If you think friends always live together in peace, then you haven’t seen those television judge shows that friends drag each other to when much love is lost.

Discuss Possible Scenarios 

So you met your roommate when they were single, but they fell in love during the course of your accommodation sharing arrangement? The new partner semi-moves into the apartment, and it all becomes a crowd. However, your roommate still believes their contribution should be the same as yours.  This example shows why it’s vital to create scenarios and be clear about how you would handle them when they present themselves.

If one of the roommates goes away for extended periods, say during university breaks, you may also need to discuss how this will be handled financially.     

What Other Factors Affect My Utility Bills ?  

Your energy costs depend on where you live and the weather there. In warmer states, like New Mexico, South Carolina, or Florida, the climate may not require you to heat your home for as many months as Alaska, Idaho, or Wisconsin. However, warmer weather can also mean higher energy bills during the summer because of air conditioning expenses. 

The key is demand. When the need for energy is high, it costs your provider more to ensure adequate energy supplies. As a result, you’ll see higher prices. For example, a severe cold snap or a heat wave often means people’s energy consumption increases because they’re running their HVAC.  

To a large degree, your water bill will also depend on how you use water and where you live. For example, if you live in the dry West, expect your monthly water bill to be higher than the Pacific Northwest, where water is more plentiful.  

Consumption is just as crucial as location when it comes to the average cost of utilities for a house. It’s simple logic: the more you use, the more it will cost you. 

Average Monthly Electric Bill By State

How average are you when it comes to the amount you pay for electricity each month? A good way to determine this is to study how your average electricity bill compares to other consumers in your state.

Here’s a look at the average 2019 monthly electric bill in every state courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Alabama: $150.45

Alaska: $127.29

Arizona: $126.09

Arkansas: $109.46

California: $101.92

Colorado: $83.07

Connecticut: $150.71

Delaware: $119.16

Florida: $129.65

Georgia: $131.84

Hawaii: $168.21

Idaho: $93.83

Illinois: $92.37

Indiana: $120.74

Iowa: $108.04

Kansas: $113.26

Kentucky: $120.08

Louisiana: $120.70

Maine: $100.53

Maryland: $127.92

Massachusetts: $125.89

Michigan: $100.23

Minnesota: $99.02

Mississippi: $135.87

Missouri: $117.82

Montana: $95.43

Nebraska: $108.08

Nevada: $106.83

New Hampshire: $120.04

New Jersey: $105.07

New Mexico: $80.04

New York: $103.60

North Carolina: $123.25

North Dakota: $114.27

Ohio: $108.15

Oregon: $100.35

Oklahoma: $113.93

Pennsylvania: $115.47

Rhode Island: $121.62

South Carolina: $144.73

South Dakota: $120.60

Tennessee: $132.33

Texas: $134.07

Utah: $75.63

Vermont: $97.18

Virginia: $135.46

Washington: $94.49

West Virginia: $121.90

Wisconsin: $95.52

Wyoming: $96.53

How Big Of A Financial Impact Does The Cost Of Utilities Have On Consumers?

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy said that consumers spent 7% of their annual incomes on energy costs in 2016. Paying for utilities is more of a burden, of course, on consumers with lower incomes. According to the Coalition, households earning the lowest incomes spent 22% of their after-tax income on residential utilities and gasoline. Households in the top income bracket, though, spent just 5% of their annual incomes on these costs.

The Coalition also points out that the average utility cost isn’t decreasing. It’s instead heading in the opposite direction. The Coalition reported that national average electricity rates have increased by 33% from 2005 to 2016. In fact, electric bills are typically the largest utility cost that homeowners face each month.

The bottom line

When looking at potential homes, it’s important to ask, “how much are utilities?” to plan your budget. The answer will depend on multiple factors. For a start, look at national averages to get a baseline idea of how much utilities cost in the U.S.

Electricity

Average cost: $30-50

Electricity usually accounts for the largest portion of your utility bill. The average cost mentioned above discounts any air conditioning or heating. If you include heating and cooling in your electricity bills, it can increase by up to 32%.

There are a number of factors that can affect your electricity bill, such as the number of people living in the apartment and the amount of appliances and gadgets you use on a regular basis. The size of the apartment also matters as well; a larger apartment will consume more electricity to cool and heat.

Money-Saving Ideas

  • Beware of “energy vampires” a.k.a. Appliances and gadgets that consume electricity even when turned off as long as they are plugged in. Things such as gaming consoles, coffee makers, and phone chargers still consume electricity when not in use. They can account for as much as 20% of your total energy consumption.
  • Check with your provider. If you have multiple providers in your area, shop around to see if you can get services for cheaper. Switching is quick and easy, and you can save up to 40% on your bill.
  • Keep an eye on your monthly usage. If you notice that your electricity bills are higher than normal, check with your provider to see where the increased consumption is coming from. It might be something you can cut down on.
  • Invest in energy-efficient LED light bulbs, or better yet, use solar-powered bulbs when possible. Switch to solar-powered outdoor lighting if you live in a sunny area.

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.

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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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Oil and Gas

The American Gas Association reports that the average U.S. household consumes about 72.5 million BTUs of natural gas per year, whether for heating, cooking, or gas-run appliances. The Energy Information Administration shows the average household heating with oil used 517 gallons per month, though of course, that varies widely by climate. You can check this table to see slightly more specific estimates for regions of the U.S. Then, answer these questions:

  • Currently, what is your average gas bill? Or your average oil bill? This should give you a fairly good picture of your use patterns
  • Are you changing climates such that you would need to use more or less heat?
  • Is your new home significantly better (or worse) insulated than your previous home?

Average Cost of Utilities in Every U.S. State

StateElectricityGasWaterSewerCableInternetTOTAL
Alabama1496330734550410
Alaska11813568725570518
Arizona1194664435030352
Arkansas1057626374730320
California1145577594550401
Colorado836439594730321
Connecticut14713769734550521
Delaware1129946794730414
District of Columbia928826662320316
Florida1293933654730344
Georgia1238728874730401
Hawaii1606264604550442
Idaho954938954245364
Illinois8710326264730319
Indiana1189030634550395
Iowa947232335550337
Kansas1068727295030329
Kentucky1169149464550397
Louisiana1184721995030365
Maine9313824674550416
Maryland1239346834730422
Massachusetts12811634464730401
Michigan1088929444730347
Minnesota957628374730313
Mississippi1316323514730345
Missouri999339724550398
Montana926338474550336
Nebraska947023235030290
Nevada1035326205030281
New Hampshire11310927434730370
New Jersey1078272294730367
New Mexico805732214730267
New York10511530474535378
North Carolina1147220414550342
North Dakota1058331274245332
Ohio10311227324550369
Oklahoma1008735335030334
Oregon10067761224730442
Pennsylvania11010231274730346
Rhode Island13112332425030408
South Carolina13467331164730427
South Dakota1156526335550344
Tennessee1266443874730397
Texas1306537664730375
Utah7362381014730352
Vermont10112518254730346
Virginia1248536315030357
Washington958475724730403
West Virginia1218391923530452
Wisconsin957018194550297
Wyoming908053604550379

Tips for reducing your utility costs

After reviewing your most recent utility bills, you may find that you need to look for ways to cut back so that you can bring your spending into an acceptable range. Here are a few handy tips that can help:

  • Check your hot water heater. The default setting for most is 140 degrees, however, 120 degrees may be sufficient for your hot water needs.
  • Repair leaky faucets, toilets, and pipes as soon as you notice them.
  • When able, run your appliances at night. Running them during the day often causes heat and will make your AC work harder in the summer months.
  • Replace air filters every 2-3 months to keep your AC working efficiently.
  • Skip your oven whenever possible. If you’re only warming something up or cooking a small amount, use a microwave, stovetop, or counter top convection oven instead of your big oven. It uses less electricity and/or gas and keeps your home from getting hot in the summer.
  • Use ceiling fans to help circulate the cool air. Note that many ceiling fans have two settings: a summer setting that circulates cool air, and a winter setting that draws air upward.
  • Check your windows and doors to make sure they’re sealed tight. Keep your cool or warm air in the house instead of letting it outside.
  • Adjust your thermostat to keep your home 10 degrees warmer or cooler (depending on the season) when you’re not home.
  • Take shorter showers and replace your showerhead. Spending just 2 minutes less in the shower can cut your water usage by 10 gallons. And an efficient showerhead can reduce your overall usage by about 2,700 gallons per year. Look for a showerhead with a WaterSense label.

Reducing your utility spending can not only save money, but it can even help you live more comfortably. If you need more in-depth assistance with your monthly budget, consider speaking with a trained budget counselor. Counseling is free and available anytime, online, over the phone, and even in person.

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