You know for certain what you will have to pay for rent, but what about apartment utilities such as electricity, natural gas, water, cable, and internet? Rent sometimes includes utilities, but if you don’t do a bit of research beforehand you might miss some of the costs you’re supposed to cover yourself. Looking at price without considering consumption isn’t enough; the state of Louisiana, for example, ranks the lowest in electricity price but highest in consumption per person. If you live in the northern states, you’ll save on utilities by not using air conditioning during the summer months, and spend more on heating bills in the winter.
Read on to find out what are the typical apartment utility costs and how much you’re likely to pay each month.
The electricity bill will likely be one of your highest monthly utility expenses. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, the annual average cost amounts to roughly $1,300 per year, or a monthly $110 for the typical US family. You’ll be paying more or less depending on the number of people in your household, the state in which you live, the number of appliances and electronics running on electricity, and the size of your apartment.
By far the biggest contributor to the apartment electricity bill is the A/C unit. During the summer it can rack up an additional $30 to $140 per month to the total bill, depending on how big the apartment is and how low you set the temperature. To save on electricity, consider using air conditioning at a minimum; you might not need it at all if you live in cooler places such as Minnesota or Washington.
You might expect lower energy prices to automatically result in more savings, but that is not necessarily the case. Louisiana has some of the cheapest electricity prices in the U.S., but due to its sizzling-hot summer temperatures – remember that A/C unit? – its residents rank the highest in electricity consumption per person.
The number of rooms in your apartment has a big impact on the utility bill. The average electric bill for 1-bedroom apartments is roughly $60 per month if you live alone, but it could go up by $30 or more if you live with roommates in a 3-bedroom apartment. For example, if your roommates leave their computers on for 10 hours a day every day, that alone would add $16 to the total bill; a second fridge, another $10. However, if you have roommates, it’s fair to split the bills by the number of tenants to save money.
When it comes to heating your home, you’re among the lucky ones if you live in the South. In Texas or Arizona, you’re unlikely to have to turn on the heating at all, even during winter. Those living in states with milder temperatures can expect to pay between $100 and $150 a month if they use a gas furnace. Besides heating your home, you will also use natural gas for cooking, but the amount you’ll spend for this purpose is much smaller – as a rule, if you cook often, expect to pay an additional $7 per month, on average.
The average gas bill for a 1-bedroom apartment will be around $60-80 a month during the cold season if your gas-fueled appliances are high-efficiency. But remember that low temperatures during winter are always going to bump up the heating bill significantly.
Internet & cable
For most users, a cable broadband service is the best way to go: you’re getting more than sufficient speed at a reasonable price. For $45 you should be able to get a good cable broadband connection, but make sure to ask if there are any additional costs such as modem installation fees.
If you want to get cable TV you’re much better off if you look for deals from the same service provider – you can get a bundle with both internet and cable at a better price. Nowadays, however, streaming services are cheap, so if you have a good high-speed internet connection, you could skip cable television and just stick to the online instead.
Water/ Sewer/ Garbage
These utilities are often included in the rent, but not always. The average daily water usage of a person is roughly the volume of water that would fit in a standard bathtub. This is the equivalent of about 70 gallons. Ask your landlord whether they have the water included in the rent. If they say that water is paid separately, then you’re looking at around $50 monthly, if you live alone. You can check out this guide on 20 ways to conserve water at home to help you save a few bucks on the water bill.
On top of this, a small fee will be added on your bill for garbage collection and sewer services, but it should not be higher than $20 and your rent often includes this amount already.
To see what the total would add up to, let’s think about a hypothetical tenant named Tom. Tom lives in New Mexico and cranks up the air conditioning during the hot months, but does not pay for heating during the winter. Tom lives with three roommates, never cooks and likes to take extremely long showers; he has broadband and does not subscribe to any cable TV provider. If you’re like Tom, you can expect to pay around $150 – $200 per month for utilities.
Besides looking at the likely price ranges you’re going to fall within, we recommend checking with the landlord or the previous tenants to get a better idea of the cost of utilities for your particular apartment.