Understanding and Calculating Electricity & Gas Bill Charges

Start with $200 per Month

Whether you’re renting or buying a home the cost of utilities is very important to consider.

Experts recommend you set aside $200 each month to cover the bare necessities.

But there are a ton of variables that could make your total monthly utility cost way higher or lower.

Electric alone costs people $1,475 each year on average according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yeah, that’s a lot of money.

If you’re thinking about moving and want to estimate your utility costs, it’s important you consider the many factors that dictate your final costs.

Luckily, we’re going to break it all down in this post.

Virginia Housing Costs

When trying to determine what is the cost of living in Virginia, housing costs will be by far your biggest expense. Compared to the national average, Virginia housing costs are more expensive. The median home cost in Virginia is $258,400. In comparison, the national median home cost is $231,200. 

Naturally, housing costs will vary depending on the city and neighborhood you’re interested in. For instance, Great Falls is one of the most expensive cities in Virginia with a median home value hitting six-figures at $1,212,347. However, Virginia’s capital Richmond has more affordable housing with a median home value of $247,564.

Throughout the state, the median home cost is $258,400. Home appreciation in the state is also up by 4.1%. 

You won’t fare much better if you decide to rent. Compared to the national average, your monthly rent payment will be more expensive in Virginia. For example, the average cost for a studio apartment in Virginia is $982, whereas the national average for a studio apartment is $821. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia is $1,030. The national average for a one-bedroom is $930.

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Electricity The Cost of Powering Your Home

Average Electricity Bill: $65.33 – $88.10

Almost every appliance in your home is going to be using electricity at some point in time, which is why it’s important to know exactly how you’re being charged for your power consumption.

Your electricity consumption is going to be measured in kilowatt hours (kwh), which is essentially a measure of how much power a device uses over time.

Currently, the average energy cost in the US is $0.133/kwh, which is higher than the previous year but prices are projected to fall within the coming months.

Since everyone uses different appliances at different rates, it can be pretty hard to estimate average energy usage, but here are a few constants…

Calculating Power Usage

Determining exactly how much electricity you’re using can be tricky, but there are a few constants you can rely on to give you a baseline.

Here’s the average cost of using some necessary household devices based on data from Duke Energy:

Appliance Energy Usage Cost
Ceiling Fan 0.075 kwh/hr $0.01/hr
Energy Star Refrigerator 43.0 kwh/month $5.72/month
Dishwasher 1.0 – 2.17 kwh/load $0.13 – $0.29/load
Laundry (Cold Wash, Cold Rinse) 0.3 kwh/load $0.04
Water Heater 390 – 500 kwh/month $51.87 – $66.50/month
TV (40″ – 49″ LCD) 0.15 kwh/hr $0.02/hr
Computer (Desktop) 0.06 – 0.25 kwh/hr $0.01 – $0.03 kwh/hr
Computer Monitor (17″ LCD) 0.04 kwh/hr $0.01 kwh/hr

Still, there’s one major factor to your electric bill that requires special consideration…

How Much is the Average Gas Bill?

Finding an average for your gas bill in your apartment can be tricky. In some areas of the country, gas is cheaper than electric (such as in some east coast states). In other areas, such as the Midwest, electric can be far cheaper than gas energy.

Always ask which of the apartments appliances run on gas vs electric and what type of gas is used so you can look up local costs in the area to evaluate how much you might be spending monthly.

What Is the Average Water Bill?

The average person uses roughly 85 gallons of wate

The average person uses roughly 85 gallons of water per day, which is split between the bathtub, toilet, washer and shower, as well as the water used for dishwashing, hygiene, drinking water and outdoor use. And, while utilities like water, sewage or garbage are often included in the rent, several other services related to water and sewer provision may also be part of a local bill — such as the clean water program, the drinking water program, stormwater policies and more.

So, before signing the lease, ask your landlord whether the water bill is included in rent. If it’s paid separately, then you’re looking at an average water bill of about $39 monthly — and, again, depending on where you live, this price can change. If you add an average sewer bill, you’re looking at an extra $55 monthly. On top of this, a small fee may also be added to your bill for garbage collection, but your rent or city fees most likely already include this amount.

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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The Bottom Line

There are many ways you can reduce your utility costs even if you don’t want to move to a different state. Consider all the ways you can reduce your future utility bills. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also help save the environment.

Gas Bill

According to the EIA, the annual average gas price for private households in 2017 was $10.91 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) or $1.05 per therm. Gas usage varies significantly based on your climate, natural gas price and for how many purposes you use it. For example if you only use gas for cooking, usage is typically very low.Some households don’t use gas at all. Depending on your home’s heating system you may also use other energy sources to heat your home such as fuel oil or wood, which are billed separately. If you’re using an electric heat pump, or your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) to heat your home, the cost to operate it will reflect on your electricity bill. 

How Are Electricity Bills Calculated?

Understanding how your electric bill is calculated is more than knowing the rates you pay — you also need to understand how much energy you are using, because that’s what ultimately determines your home electric charges. When reading your electricity bill, you will see the total cost of energy usage that month. This is calculated by multiplying the rate you pay per kWh by how many kilowatt-hours your home has used during the month. Knowing this formula (provided below) will give you a basic way of understanding your energy costs.

Getting Around

As of March 2021, gas prices in Virginia hit $3.07 a gallon. Compared to the national average of $2.58 per gallon, you’ll be paying a bit more to get around Virginia. Your daily commute will be a bit longer than the rest of the nation. The average Virginian commutes 28.2 minutes one-way, which is longer than the national average of 26.4 minutes.

While 77% of Virginians commute via car, you can also take public transit. For $60, you’ll receive an unlimited-ride 30-day pass from the Greater Richmond Transit Company. You can also connect to the D.C. Metro using the Metrobus. A 7-day regional bus pass will cost you $17.50.

Tips for Saving Money on Your Electricity Bill

If you’re looking to save money on your electricit

If you’re looking to save money on your electricity bill, it’s important to reduce your consumption. Specifically, one of the highest energy consumers in your home is the air conditioner, so it’s essential to learn how to optimize its performance. First, change the HVAC filters regularly and adjust the temperature. If you live in cooler places, you might not even need to use the air at all. Otherwise, if you live in the South or other warm areas, make it a habit to leave the thermostat at a higher temperature than what you would typically set it at during the winter months. Just a few degrees will make a big difference at the end of the month.

Another way to reduce your consumption is to swap out regular light bulbs with LEDs. Although they’re pricier upfront, LED bulbs last longer and consume less electricity. Similarly, consider incorporating smart power strips for appliances that enter standby when not in use, yet still consume electricity. These devices account for a significant portion of your energy consumption, which you can easily reduce. Alternatively, you could also unplug them when not in use.

Trash and Recycling

Another utility bill homeowners have to pay is for waste removal. This bill typically includes the cost to dispose of your garbage, recyclables and organic waste. Depending on your city, you may have different bins for the different types of waste, which are sometimes picked up at different rates. The collection of recyclables may be handled by a different authority and billed separately. Typically, recyclables will be picked up at a cheaper rate, which can save you money, especially if you can reduce the frequency of your regular garbage pickups or if you can switch to a smaller garbage cart.The monthly garbage cost is set by the city. Depending on your city or county you may have one or two free bulk, brush or appliance collections per year. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay extra for these services. In regulated areas, your utility company may include the cost for waste removal and related costs as a city service, for example on your water bill. In some areas, trash pick up and recycling services may be included with other city or town fees. You can expect monthly rates between $20 and $50 depending on your location.

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

Determining your gas costs

Natural gas is measured in units known as therms.  How much you pay depends on both the price of the natural gas and the amount that you consume. Your monthly gas bill is calculated by multiplying the cost of a therm by the number of therms used. While the average residential non-heating customer uses approximately 20-30 therms per month and the average residential heating customer uses approximately 100-125 therms during the heating season, your use may be higher or lower depending on the number and types of appliances that you use in your home. You can determine your average monthly usage by looking over your past natural gas bills.

Utilities: the hidden cost of apartment living

As a renter, it can be easy to forget about the additional costs of apartment life, including utilities. Even seemingly small utility bills can quickly add up, representing a significant portion of your disposable income.

One of the best things you can do when apartment hunting, is to pre-emptively research the cost of utilities in each neighborhood. Once you’ve done this you can work out a rough estimation of how much it would cost to live there. Use this sum and add it to your allotted budget for each neighborhood.

Doing this (arguably tedious) yet highly valuable exercise, will help you find apartments that not only meets your needs, but won’t have you living paycheck to paycheck. It’ll also help save you time and aggravation, wasting your energy on apartments that only meet your requirements at the surface but are later found out to be too expensive.

We hope you enjoyed this guide and learned a few things about how you too can effectively plan for utility bills at your next apartment. Don’t forget to tell us about what you did with all of that extra money!

Looking for more information about renting apartments? Read our Blog article about How to Rent an Apartment.

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