When you’re looking for an apartment, it’s perfectly understandable you’re focusing on the rent. Of course, you want to be able to find an apartment with rent that you can afford, but you should also keep utilities in mind. After all, you wouldn’t want to scramble around looking for money to pay utilities because you forgot to include them in your budget!
Utilities refer to expenses such as gas, electricity, water, heating, and garbage collection. These days, many apartments will also include the cost of WiFi and cable services in your utilities bill, but you should still check your rental agreement to be sure. As a renter, it is part of your responsibilities to pay for your utilities in full and on time.
If you’re not sure how much you should spend for your utilities, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out how much you should spend on utilities on average, how to save on your bills, and other tips about rental utilities.
The Average Cost of Utilities
The typical American household spends around $2,060 per year on utilities, or around $172 per month. However, this can vary depending on several factors such as the size of your home, the amount of appliances you have, and your living patterns.
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.
- 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 cost: $30-50
Gas bills can range widely depending on how many sources of heat in your home are powered with gas. Some common household utilities include hot water, your stove, and heating. Depending on where you live and your provider, your gas and electricity bills can be lumped together.
- Invest in a smart thermostat that can adjust the heat settings of your home when you are not around.
- Turn off the heat when you leave.
- Check the insulation in your home. Cracks in windows and doors can let in drafts that can cause your heating bill to skyrocket.
- Wear warm and comfortable clothes during the colder months. Reducing your gas bill can be as simple as bundling up in a thick sweater, fuzzy slippers, and a comfy robe.
- Consider using an induction cooker. It heats up much faster compared to a regular stovetop and newer models don’t cost much electricity.
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: $30-60
The amount of money you’ll spend on your Internet bill will depend on the plan, as well as how much bandwidth you consume. If you work from home or regularly use streaming services, you’ll need to pay for faster services.
- Make sure that you have the right plan for your Internet usage. If you’re only using the Internet for casual surfing, a cheaper plan might be better for you.
- Ask your provider for bundles. Many providers provide bundled plans that include cell service and cable services.
- Keep an eye out for promos! Many providers offer promos for long-term plans that calculate a cheaper monthly bill (just make sure that you’re okay with the lock-in period).
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.
What Affects the Costs of Utilities?
The location of your apartment will greatly affect your utility bill, especially your electricity and gas consumption. If you’re living in a city with a temperate climate, you won’t need to spend as much compared to living in a city with extreme weather conditions.
The location also refers to where your apartment is located within a building. Top floor apartments generally have higher heating and cooling bills because they are more exposed to the elements.
Check the energy efficiency of the apartment before moving in. An apartment with lots of windows and a high ceiling such as a loft will let in more sunlight and air, so you won’t need to heat the apartment as much. However, during colder months, this can also mean a higher heating bill.
Size of your Rental
Obviously, a larger apartment will be more expensive when it comes to power, heating, and cooling. Even the unit’s layout can play a part; it can be more expensive to heat and cool an apartment with an open floor plan than one with delineated rooms. You only need to heat and cool the areas where you’re staying.
Ask Current Tenants
If you are unsure about utility costs, you can ask current residents how much they spend on utilities before moving in. Just be sure to phrase the question politely since it can be a bit of a personal question.
Always Check the Energy Efficiency Ratio
Before buying any appliance, check the energy efficiency ratio (EER). This ratio tells you how well the appliance uses electricity to function. A higher EER means that an appliance has been rated as energy efficient.
Use Natural Heating and Cooling
Whenever possible, use your apartment’s natural heating and cooling. Open the windows during the summer to let in cool air so that you don’t need to spend as much on cooling. During the winter, use furniture to block windows to prevent drafts. It all depends on how creative you can get!
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.