Complete List of Utilities for Apartments

how do electric bills work in apartments

So you’re going to live on your own, huh? That’s a big step that many equate with freedom and becoming an adult. But while having your own place is great, you’ll also need to pay attention to your new responsibilities. Welcome to the world of utility bills.  

It’s easy to overlook the cost of apartment utilities when you make the budget for your apartment. So what you consider a sufficient amount may not be enough to cover all your expenses. Utility costs are nothing to sneeze at. Your gas and electricity bills alone can eat up a large portion of your income.  

When moving into an apartment, determine whether utility bills are included in the rent. Some landlords add the cost of common utilities in the monthly payment, while others leave the responsibility to you. Settle the issue with the landlord or property manager before signing the contract, so you know where you stand.  

Utilities in a House/Apartments

Just because you’re now paying for your utility expenses doesn’t mean you can’t save money. Good planning and prudent usage are the keys. But first of all, what are utilities? Well, they are the services you need to make your place habitable and comfortable. Some are essential utilities or those you can’t live without. Examples are water and sewer, electricity, gas, and trash.  

Internet, cable TV, security, and phone services are utilities, too, but they’re not as critical as, say, water and electricity. Still, you’ll likely need those additional utilities, too, so better include them in your budget.  

Here are the common utilities for an apartment.  

Water & Sewer

Will you move into an apartment that has no water and sewer service? We didn’t think so. Without water and sewer, no place can be habitable. These two utilities come together as a bundle, and they’re often provided by one utility company.   

Water consumption and costs in the US are computed per 1,000 gallons, and the average price of 1,000 gallons is around $11.48. Water rates may vary, but you can usually expect a water bill amounting to $50 a month. Meanwhile, sewer service will add approximately $16 monthly to your utility expenses.  

Electricity

Electricity costs often account for the most significant portion of your utility expenses. Lights, appliances, and electronic devices consume electricity and can hike your electric bill if you’re not careful.   

Electricity rates in the country vary depending on your provider and where you live. On average, it may come to around $50 a month. However, that excludes your heating and cooling needs. Using air conditioning and heating devices will add approximately 32 percent more to your monthly electric bill.    

Natural Gas

Your gas and electric bills will likely make it to the top of your cost of utility list because of the high rates in the country. Most apartments use natural gas for heating and cooking, as some ovens run on this fuel source.  

Your gas bills may come to around $50 to $60 a month, although that depends on what appliances in your apartment run on natural gas. If you use the fuel source only for cooking, your bill may go down to between $10 and $20 a month.   

Air Conditioning & Heating

Air conditioning and heating will influence the comfort level of your apartment, especially if you live in an area with extreme weather. Using air conditioning and heating devices will add either to your gas bill or electricity bill. That depends on what power source your heating and cooling appliances use.  

Although AC units and space heaters consume significant amounts of electricity and will likely hike your gas or electricity bill, they’re worth the money you spend. That’s because they’re essential for maintaining the temperature in your apartment at a comfortable level.  

Internet & Cable

Internet and cable may not be considered basic utilities, but they do contribute to your productivity and help enhance your quality of life. Few people now opt for cable connections as streaming services are fast becoming the norm. Still, you may prefer aired television. In which case, add the monthly cable subscription fee to your expenses.  

This apartment utility can range between $10 and $80, depending on your subscription package. The cable bill is one expense you can cut if saving money is a priority, as you can use streaming services to watch your favorite shows.  

Your internet bill will likewise depend on your preferred subscription plan. Faster internet speeds often come with higher rates. Most internet providers offer plans starting at $40, but after adding the fees, equipment costs, and taxes, that amount will often rise to $65 a month. In some areas, internet plans can go as high as $100 for select plans.  

Trash & Recycling

Accumulated trash will attract rodents and other pests, never mind the smell that will definitely impact your living environment. Thus, trash and recycling are some of the rental utilities you’ll need to take care of. In many instances, property owners make the arrangement with the city’s waste management company for the trash collection needs of the apartment complex. The fee then gets divided among the renters.  

Depending on your area, you may have to place your trash inside different bins based on the type of waste. The collection schedule may also vary depending on the waste type. Trash collection service fees average around $20.  

Security

Home security services are often not classified as essential utilities. However, having one can help you enjoy peace of mind. Like with other common utilities, the property owner sometimes includes the security system fee in the monthly rent.   

If your apartment isn’t equipped with this utility, you can get one on your own. Security systems vary in what they include. Some offer only basic security cameras, while others will alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide. Depending on the company, the price of the equipment can range between $199 and $399. Meanwhile, the average cost of the monthly monitoring fee is around $25 to $50. You often have to pay upfront for the equipment and installation costs.  

Factors Affecting the Costs of Utilities

You can’t expect to pay a flat fee for the common utilities in your apartment. The amount varies depending on several factors. Let’s see what can affect the average cost of utilities.  

Location

When we say location, we refer to two things. First is the state where your rental unit is, and second is where the apartment is located in the building. The price per kWh varies per state. For example, the average cost of electricity in Hawaii is 39.97 cents, while the average power rate in Washington is 12 cents per kWh.  

Moreover, you’re likely to have lower energy consumption if you live in an area with a temperate climate than those whose apartment is in a state with extreme weather. That’s because you won’t have to rely so much on your heating and cooling devices to keep the temperature of your living space at a comfortable level.   

Meanwhile, if you’re in a top-floor apartment, your cooling and heating bill tends to be higher because your living area is more exposed to the elements.  

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of a rental unit plays a significant role in how much you’ll need to set aside for your utilities. An apartment with a high ceiling and plenty of windows will let in more air and sunlight. Thus, you won’t have to heat your space as much, which can help lower your electricity and gas consumption.   

The electronics and devices you use will also affect your utility costs. Energy-efficient appliances will consume less electricity than non-efficient ones. So if you can ditch those inefficient appliances and replace them with more efficient ones, you can lower the cost of your utilities.  

Size of House/Apartment

The square footage of your rental unit can also affect your utility expenses. A large apartment will naturally be more expensive to power, heat, and cool. For example, the average cost of utilities for a studio apartment is approximately $121 per month. Meanwhile, that for a 2-bedroom unit is about $198 a month.  

The apartment’s layout also influences how much you pay for your utilities. A unit with an open floor plan will be more costly to heat and cool compared to one with delineated rooms. That’s because you can opt to heat and cool the areas where you’re staying, thus lowering the power consumption of your heating and cooling devices.    

Energy Saving Tips

How much you pay for your utilities depends mainly on your consumption. Thus, you can control your expenses by curbing your usage. Since the seasons sometimes affect your consumption, let’s look at some energy-saving tips you can employ during the various months.   

Fall

Fall is the transition time from summer into winter. During this season, the temperature starts to get colder. You can use the following tips to save on your electricity and gas bill.  

  • Don’t use your AC whenever possible. You can turn on an electric fan to keep your living space cool if the temperature exceeds what’s comfortable for you.
  • Open the curtains or drapes to let sunlight warm your home when the weather turns nippy.  
  • Clean the filters of your AC unit.  

Winter

Aside from the summer, winter is one season where electricity usage spikes because of the temperature. Still, you can save a few bucks during the winter months. Here’s how.

  • Provide proper insulation for your home.   
  • Keep your thermostat at the lowest setting possible for comfort. Use space heaters to heat small areas.  
  • Decorate your home using LED lights.  

Spring & Summer

Spring is a season when you can minimize power usage. However, you’ll likely require more electricity during the summer to combat the scorching weather. Keep your power usage under control with the following tips.

  • Lower the temperature setting of your water heater.  
  • Air dry your laundry instead of using clothes dryers.   
  • Give your air conditioner a check-up. If it’s up for replacement, choose an energy-efficient model.  

Year-Round

Aside from season-specific ways to save electricity, you can curb your power consumption all year.   

  • Unplug electronics and appliances that are not in use to prevent vampire energy.   
  • Turn off lights in unused rooms and areas of your home.  
  • Replace your old appliances with energy-efficient ones.  

FAQs

Does WiFi Count as a Utility Bill?

More people are now working from home due to the pandemic. Since a utility is anything that keeps your home or business ticking, WiFi payments count as utility bills.  

Can You Set Up Utilities After Moving In?

You can, but you may want to have your utilities up and running before you move in. Imagine living in a home or apartment without running water or electricity, and you’ll understand why it makes more sense to set up your utilities way before your moving-in date. So make arrangements with each utility company as soon as you’ve found your new home.  

What Are the Usual Monthly Bills?

The typical monthly expenses you’ll need to include in your budget are the apartment rent, utility payments (water, electricity, and the like), insurance, and membership fees. Ideally, you should set aside 50 percent of your income after taxes on these essential expenses.  

Conclusion

It’s important to know the common utilities for an apartment for several reasons. First, it helps with your budget planning. Second, it will tell you where you can save on your kWh consumption to make your apartment eco-friendlier. Finally, having money left over after your utility payments means you’ll have something you can use for the proverbial rainy day.

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