How Much Should You Plan to Spend on Utilities Each Month?

How Much Should You Plan to Spend on Utilities Each Month?

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Seattle Housing Authority establishes utility estimates for the cost of utilities not included in the rent. They are based on the typical cost of utilities and services paid by energy-conservative households that occupy housing of the same size and utility responsibility in the same locality.   Estimates are not based on an individual family’s actual energy consumption and do not include non-essential utility costs, such as telephone or cable.   Other housing authorities may call this a utility allowance.   In general, households pay at least 30 percent—but no more than 40 percent—of monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities. Households may pay more than 40 percent of income after the first year. Monthly adjusted income is a household’s gross income, after certain deductions and allowances are taken into account.   This chart represents estimated costs for any utilities or services for which a tenant is responsible, meaning the tenant pays the bill or the landlord charges the tenant extra for the utility bill. To determine utility estimate, select the group that most closely represents utility responsibilities according to the lease, and then select the bedroom size that is the lower of the voucher size or the size of the leased unit.     Studio $115 $35 $20 $0 1 $130 $45 $25 $0 2 $200 $60 $30 $0 3 $300 $85 $45 $0 4 $410 $140 $65 $0 5 and above $520 $195 $95 $0 Effective April 1, 2022.   * Yesler, Rainier Vista, Lake City Court, High Point and NewHolly use a different utility schedule

Tips to Save Money on your Gas Bill

Optimize Your Thermostat

If its possible, see if you can have a smart thermostat installed. Although you’ll incur an initial cost here buying a new thermostat, these intelligent thermostats use everything from the projected weather report, to your personal preferences on comfort and even when you’ll be away at work to optimize temperature settings throughout the day.

Can’t install a smart thermostat in your apartment? You still have options without upgrading your thermostat. According to Energy.gov estimates, lowering your temperature by 7-10 degrees for ONLY 8 hours a day can save residents 10% or more on your gas bill yearly.

Similarly, setting and leaving your thermostat at 68 degrees during the summer and winter can offer a perfect blend of cost savings on your gas bill and moderate comfort no matter the season.

Turn Down the Heat on the Water Heater

Did you know that the hot water heater accounts for up to 16% of energy costs in an apartment? If you have access, see if you can turn it down, this is a good way to save on your gas bill. Most hot water heaters are set too hot anyway.

You want to find a temperature that is hot enough to be comfortable but not scalding. As a general rule, 120-degrees Fahrenheit is a good starting temperature to test. And don’t worry about your dishwasher. It has its own internal heating element to heat up water when needed.

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Heat

If you are in a multi-unit building with radiators, there will almost certainly be no extra charge for heat. The landlord will pay the building’s heating bill in total and build that cost into the rent. However, if you and some friends team up and rent a house, you’ll be on the hook for keeping an oil burner going for heat and hot water, which could cost more than $300 a month. If you have gas or forced-air heating expect to pay at least $100 a month in the deep winter, though the cost can vary. One good way to find out what to expect is simply to ask the landlord or a previous tenant.

How much are utilities in a 2 or 3-bedroom apartment?

For a two to three-bedroom, you’re looking at closer to $150-$200 per month for basic utilities and the same $100-$200 premium for internet and cable. But if you create a fair system for dividing bills each roommate can get away with only paying $100 per person, given that everyone’s consumption habits are similar.

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.

Cable

This is an optional expense. With the new high-definition televisions, and their digital antennae, it’s easy to get great reception on network TV, and then you can use online streaming services for the rest of your needs. This will cost you about $20 a month, if you subscribe to two services.

If you want cable, look for a deal. They come along frequently and can save you some money. But be careful; companies often have add-ons like free premium channels for three months, which will then be charged to your account if you don’t cancel when the preliminary deal expires. So make sure to keep an eye on your account, so you know what you’re being charged for. While it’s nice to have cable, and you can usually find introductory deals that include cable and Internet for about $90 a month, it’s still a lot of money compared to using a streaming service or two for about $20 a month.

What Utilities are Included in my Lease?

When on the hunt for apartments, one of the things on your list of questions, should be to ask the property manager for details about the utilities prior to signing on the bottom line.

The last thing you want to do is accidentally get in over your head financially and then have to break the lease, likely incurring even more penalties.

Utility Costs Landlords (might) Cover

Before we can estimate the average cost of your apartments utility bills, we need to first establish which energy bills you’re actually responsible for. Despite what you may have been told verbally if it’s not in writing on a legally binding agreement, it doesn’t count.

Review your Lease or Rental Agreement

Step one is to get out the apartments lease agreement and READ IT CAREFULLY. There should be a section labeled “Utilities” or similar. This section should define what is and is not included in your monthly rent payment.

Most apartments include water and trash in the rent, however, this may not always be the case. Often a tenant will be responsible energy bills like gas, electric, and any other optional utilities.

If something is unclear, or if certain utilities are not listed at all on the apartments lease agreement, always ask to get it in writing as to who is responsible for what energy bill.

How to save money on utilities

Keep energy efficiency in mind when house hunting, as certain features that landlords have implemented will end up saving you money in the long run. For example, new insulation, double pane windows and energy-efficient appliances work together to help lower utility costs tremendously.

Heat efficiently

Heating an entire single-family home can quickly become one of your largest expenses if you aren’t careful. Turning the heat down when sleeping or when you’re not at home  can help you save significantly each month. If you live in an older home, consider insulated curtains or curtains made from a heavier fabric to trap in heat to reduce heating costs. Many ceiling fans have a switch that allows blades to spin clockwise, which will help push warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down into the room.

Avoid air conditioning units

If you live in a rather mild climate with a few days of extreme heat, you can probably get by without using an air conditioning unit and save money on your electricity bill each month. Use efficient cooling tips like keeping the lights off as often as possible, limiting the use of your stove and oven and opening the windows at night to cool down your home. Your landlord may have even invested in smart thermostats that use energy saving technology to help lower the cost of heating and cooling.

LED light bulbs

LED bulbs use 20% to 25% less energy than traditional light and can save you up to $500 a year on utility costs. They are also  90% more efficient at producing light compared to incandescent light bulbs. As an added bonus, LED bulbs don’t “burn out”. Instead, they slowly dim over time ultimately reducing the need to buy and replace bulbs as often.

Use less water

As you go about your day, pay attention to how much water you are using for simple tasks like brushing your teeth, washing dishes or showering. Making small changes to your routine such as taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth and only using the shortest cycle for your appliances (dishwasher, washing machine) can make a big difference over time. Consider investing in water saving tools like low flow shower heads and toilets.

What impacts the cost of utilities?

These factors can affect the average household utility cost:

Where you live: If you’re in a temperate climate, utilities won’t cost as much because there’s less need for constant heating in winter and air conditioning in summer.

Your use of resources: Your average utilities cost depends on your use of electricity and gas. If you leave the thermostat at 72 degrees in winter, you’ll pay more than you will if you set it at 68 degrees. If you lower the heat when you’re not home, you’ll also pay less.

Installing a smart thermostat in your home is one convenient way to manage your utility usage. Many of these smartphone-controlled devices let you view your weekly or monthly usage history, which gives you a clearer picture of how often your heating and cooling systems are turning on and off. This helps you see opportunities to raise or lower your thermostat at certain times of day – or turn the system off completely – to save money.

How energy efficient your home is: Insulation and windows make a big difference in the average utilities cost in a home. Energy can easily escape if there’s no insulation or properly installed windows to protect that air transfer. Old, single-pane windows can also be drafty and contribute to heat loss.

Size of your home: Heating, cooling and lighting a home that’s 2,500 square feet will cost more than a home that’s 1,400 square feet. It’s also important to consider the home’s layout. For example, spaces with open floor plans generally cost more to heat and cool than homes that are more compartmentalized with separated areas. In these homes, it’s often possible to shut vents or doors when the rooms aren’t in use and don’t require heating or cooling.

Estimates of Individual Costs of Utilities

Heating

You will not get a separate utility bill for heating, but you will have to somehow pay for it. It will either be covered by your landlord and tacked on to the rent, or it will be included in your electric or gas bill. 

Heating bills vary depending on the climate of the city you live in, and northern cities will have to pay more for heating than southern cities. You should also consider air conditioning. The cost of running an AC will be included in your electric bill, so it isn’t a separate bill you need to worry about. But if you live in a hot climate and need to keep your apartment cool in the summertime, be prepared for your electric bill to go up.

What is the average cost of heating an apartment?

The average cost to heat an apartment is approximately typically around $80-100 per month during the winter months if you have gas heat or forced air. However, if you have oil heating, the cost to heat your apartment will be quite a bit more, likely between $200-$250 per month. 

What is the average cost of cooling an apartment?

It typically costs around $100-125 per month to cool an apartment during the summertime. If you live in an area with a scorching climate or have a huge apartment, the price can increase. 

Electricity

Electricity is an important bill, and it can get out of hand if you’re not careful. It’s easy to be careless and leave the lights on all night or let the AC run while you’re asleep. But unnecessary use of electricity will jack up your bill and eat into your budget for other expenses. The best thing to do is be cognizant of your electric usage and to turn off electronics and other energy gobblers when they are not needed. Electricity bills will vary depending on your needs and the number of roommates you have, but it’s typically between $100 and $150 per month.

What is the average electricity bill for an apartment?

The average electric bill for an apartment in the US is approximately $125 per month. 

Gas

Gas is another important bill you should take into consideration. You may not think about using gas much in your apartment, but many of your appliances may run on gas. To get an accurate estimate of your gas bill, you’ll need to find out where it’s being used. Do you have a gas oven and stove, or are they electric? Is your apartment heated by gas or electricity? These are essential things to know to correctly calculate your gas bill. Your energy provider will often cover both gas and electricity, and you’ll be sent one bill that breaks down the costs of each utility. Pay close attention to this breakdown if you’re looking for ways to reduce monthly costs.

What is the average gas bill for an apartment?

The average monthly gas bill is approximately $100 for apartments that have gas heating. 

Water

Water is another essential utility that can’t be overlooked. If you’re someone who enjoys long luxurious showers or you have a lot of plants, you may end up paying more. But in general, water bills are manageable are often covered by the landlord.

What is the Average Water Bill for an Apartment?

The average monthly water bill for an apartment in the US is $40. 

Internet

Although the internet was once thought of as a luxury, today it’s become necessary for most renters. Internet plans vary depending on how much speed and bandwidth you’re looking for. If you’re a single person who just needs to be able to watch Netflix and surf the web, you can get by for $50 to $75 per month. Whereas if you’re a gamer or tech aficionado and you need a lot of bandwidth to run programs, you may be looking at a bill closer to $150.

What is the Average Internet Bill for an Apartment?

The average internet bill for an apartment is approximately $62 in the US. 

Cable or Streaming

Entertainment is another luxury that has become something of a necessity. You can forgo this bill if you would rather save the money and read a book. But most renters want access to some form of entertainment options, even if that’s just a Netflix subscription. Cable is great if you’re someone who still likes having a whole slate of channels at your disposal. But if you’re looking to save money, mixing and matching different streaming services is another way to go.  

What are the Costs of Popular Streaming Services?

  • Netflix: $8.99 – $15.99 / month
  • HBO Max: $15 / month
  • YouTube TV: $64.99 – $109.30 / month
  • Disney Plus: $6.99 / month

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