Looking for an Apartment? Utility Cost Estimates to Consider

How do you calculate utilities?

Divide total utility costs by total business costs to find the decimal portion of utility expenses. For example, if your annual utility costs are $25,000 and your total business expenses are $400,000, then the portion of your total costs represented by your utility costs is $25,000 divided by $400,000, or 0.0625.

Renter’s insurance

Finally, always get renter’s insurance. You never know what may happen, and it’s very affordable, at only about $150 a year. If your apartment is burglarized, you’ll be very thankful you have it.

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How much is the average internet/phone/cable/streaming bill for an apartment?

Don’t forget to include additional costs such as internet, cable, streaming, and phone service. These are additional fees that contribute to your overall monthly bill. Put together, the average American spends $290 on these four services. And, just as with your electricity and heating, there are ways to save here as well. 

Internet

The average internet bill is around $60 per month, but that can vary widely based on your type of service and speeds. Ways to save money include shopping for competitive rates, purchasing (as opposed to renting) a modem or router, taking advantage of move-in rates, and buying bundled services.

Cable/Streaming services

With the rapid increase in streaming services, cutting cable from the bill has never been easier. To save time and money, skip the monthly cable package and subscribe only to the platforms that have the content you enjoy. If you prefer the variety that cable offers, work with a provider to select the right tier and see if you qualify for bundling discounts.

Phone

Like the cable option, consider dropping the landline, bundling mobile services, or choosing a prepaid provider. Oftentimes a service provider will throw in extraneous benefits that rack up the cost. Choose the simplest plan that works for you.

How do I calculate utilities for an apartment?

From a budgeting perspective, you can estimate how

From a budgeting perspective, you can estimate how much you need to put aside each month for your utilities. If you’re moving into a new place, your landlord may know how much utilities typically cost.

If you have the chance, you’ll likely get a better estimate by asking another tenant. Don’t forget your current utility bills. Those will give you an idea of your usage that can give you a baseline for what it’ll cost in your new place.

If you’d like to calculate this on your own, you can create a budget for things like:

  • Electricity
  • Air conditioning/heat
  • Gas
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cable

You can also use a utility cost estimator or online calculator to assess your projected monthly cost of living. Remember to take these with a grain of salt, as they’re only estimates.

If you want a better idea of how much your utilities will cost each month, see what your first three bills look like and take the average.

Note: You may want to wait a few months if it’s summer or winter and you have your air conditioner or heater running constantly.

Tips for Saving on Your Water Bill

Water consumption can be easily reduced. First and foremost, check for leaks in your bathroom or kitchen and fix them. Leaky faucets aren’t just noisy and annoying. They’re also a waste of water. To address this, replace your showerhead with one that is efficient and, while you’re at it, try to take shorter showers, as well.

Meanwhile, the washer and dishwasher will often have an efficient or eco cycle, which can reduce the amount of water being used. In this way, lower-maintenance clothes and lightly used dishes can be washed at colder temperatures and shorter cycles.

Tips

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!

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.

What are utilities in rent?

Services to your home such as electricity, gas, oil, water and sewerage are called ‘utility’ services. This page explains your responsibilities for connecting and disconnecting these services. It also explains which costs are your responsibility, and those costs that the rental provider (landlord) is responsible for.

How Much is the Average Cable and Internet Bills?

Cable and Internet is one of the most often overlooked bills you’ll encounter when renting an apartment. VERY few apartment complexes include cable or internet in your rent.

This may be a relevant time to re-evaluate your specific needs. How much time you’ll be spending at the apartment, whether or not you’re a homebody who enjoys streaming more digital media, or whether there are some things you could cut back on. Typically depending on your usage an average Cable and Internet bill can cost from $75-$180 a month.

In some cases, cutting the cable bill altogether might be the right more. With the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon prime, you might have everything you need elsewhere (and for cheaper).

Similarly, is your cell phone capable of being a hotspot for free? If so, do you even need the internet in your apartment?

What are The Typical Average Utility Costs?

We’ll get down and dirty with the details in the next part of this guide. But for now, let’s take a look at the average utility bills for apartment renters across the United States.

According to a 2016 report by the United States Energy Administration, the average monthly energy bill an apartment renter could expect is $112. However, this last report was compiled in 2016 (yikes). Energy costs have increased substantially since then, especially in certain parts of the country.

Depending on where you live (region, state, city) and on the type of energy consumed (gas, electric, etc.), renters could expect to pay an average of $150-$200+ per month on utilities not included in the rent.

Below is a Brief Breakdown of an Apartments Average Costs Based on Utility Type:*This is a rough average estimate and to be used for illustration purposes only

  • Average Electricity Bill $40-$70 (excludes that used for air/heat and stove)
  • Average Air conditioning Bill $35-$60 (averaged over a 12-month period)
  • Average Heating Bill $50-$65 (averaged over a 12-month period)
  • Average Cable and internet Bill $75-$180
  • Average Trash and recycling Bill $20-$30
  • Average Water Bill $40-$60
  • Average Renters insurance Bill $15-$25 per month

Utility Costs by Apartment Size

Living in a larger apartment means that you'll be paying more in utilities, but exactly how much more? Here's what you can expect.

How Much are Utilities in an Apartment with Four or More Bedrooms?

With four or more bedrooms you’re looking at closer to $200- $300 per month for basic utilities, depending on the number of roommates. Cable won’t change much unless you all have different tastes. But you’ll likely want to invest in Wi-Fi with a higher bandwidth if you’re going to have several people and devices all using the same connection. That will run you an extra $50 to $100 per month. But if you’re smart and make sure everyone is frugal with the utilities you can easily get away with paying less than $150 per person if all of the rooms are occupied.

Heating and Air Conditioning Different Variables Affect Cost

Average Heating Bill: $21.56 – $26.13 (3 – 4 months/year) Average Air Conditioning Bill: $21.56 – $26.13 (3 – 4 months/year)

Heating and cooling usually make up 35%-40% of your energy bill.

A few things to consider when trying to estimate energy costs…

  • How large is the residence? The more square footage you have the more costly it will be to keep maintain a certain temperature.
  • What’s the climate like? Very hot or cold climates will mean higher energy bills.
  • How old are the appliances? If your HVAC system is 10-15 years old it’s likely going to be less efficient than a newer unit.
  • How well insulated is the home? Are windows double-pane and well sealed? Is the house older? Then it likely isn’t as well insulated as a newer home.

Once you’ve figured all this out, here are some energy saving tips.

Energy Saving Tips

While many of the factors above are going to be largely out of your control, there’s plenty you can do to save energy when it comes to heating and air conditioning.

  • Thermostats: When it comes to setting the temperature in your home, keep things set as warm as you can stand in the summer and as cold as you’re comfortable with in the winter in order to keep your heat and A/C running as little as necessary.
  • Ducts: Make sure your ducts are well-maintained, regularly checking for and sealing leaks to ensure efficient use of your heating and cooling equipment.
  • Fans: According to SplendidFans, ceiling and floor fans use way less energy than air conditioning, as long as you can remember to turn them off when you leave the room.
  • Windows: You can also keep your home cool by closing shutters during the day opening windows at night in the summer. Opening blinds to let the sunshine in can keep things a bit warmer in the winter too.
  • Filters: You’ll want to change your furnace filter every 2 – 3 months to keep your machines running efficiently and improve the quality of air in your home.

But what if your place hasn’t gone all-electric?

Ask For Prior Utility Bills

The average cost of $200 a month is only just an average. One of the simplest ways of getting an idea of what the utility bills of a specific house or apartment will be is to ask for prior utility bills. 

In most cases, landlords and real estate agents can get these for you. 

Requesting a copy of previous bills will also tell you which utilities were paid by the landlord. Sometimes landlords include utilities as part of the rent but you can only know this if you ask. 

Even though prior electric, water and gas bills will probably vary based on usage, you’ll know with near 100 percent certainty what the trash/recycling and condo fees will cost.

What utility costs are usually covered by the landlord?

In most apartments, landlords typically cover water, sewer, and garbage, which is usually lumped into your monthly rent. You are generally responsible for paying electricity, gas, and any internet, cable, or other bills. 

What Is the Average Gas Bill?

When it comes to gas costs, southern states see so

When it comes to gas costs, southern states see some of the lowest prices, followed by the West Coast — due to both low monthly consumption and moderate prices. The lowest averages are found in Florida with a $46 average gas bill; Idaho with $50; and Louisiana with $53. In Nevada and Arizona, the average gas bill is also less than $60. And, while most people use gas for heating their homes and cooking, average amounts may differ because the provider or local administrator could include additional fixed charges or taxes on the bill.

For instance, the average gas bill for a one-bedroom apartment will be around $57 per month during the cold season if your gas-fueled appliances are highly efficient. But remember that weather is also an important variable and low temperatures during winter will significantly increase the heating bill. Consequently, the average gas bill for a three-bedroom apartment with a high-efficiency furnace and/or water heater can reach around $76. But, if you have low- to average-efficiency appliances, expect to pay more than $85 for a three-bedroom rental.

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.

Research for low monthly rates

Once you’ve determined what you’re responsible for, start shopping around for the best prices. Retail energy providers can help you find the lowest rate and lock it in. Search online for one in your area.

Gas companies are very competitive, with some even offering cash-back incentives to use their service. Cable and phone companies often bundle services for a discount.

Compare:

  • Installation charges
  • Services provided
  • Fees
  • Length of introductory rates

What seems like a bargain to begin with can quickly shoot up once the initial rate expires.

Find Rentals on Zillow

Related:

MyFirstApartment.com helps novice renters successfully navigate the first year of living on their own. The blog shares proven tips and tricks for everything from finding the perfect rental or roommate, to furnishing on a small budget or no budget, to dealing with landlords or roommate’s girlfriends.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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