How Much Do Utilities Cost?

Start with $200 per Month

Whether you’re renting or buying a home the cost of utilities is very important to consider.

Experts recommend you set aside $200 each month to cover the bare necessities.

But there are a ton of variables that could make your total monthly utility cost way higher or lower.

Electric alone costs people $1,475 each year on average according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yeah, that’s a lot of money.

If you’re thinking about moving and want to estimate your utility costs, it’s important you consider the many factors that dictate your final costs.

Luckily, we’re going to break it all down in this post.

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.

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Internet A 21st Century Necessity

Average Internet Bill: $56.60/month

Behold the internet!

What was once a luxury has now become a necessity.

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you won’t have many options when it comes to internet providers in your area.

Not to mention, average internet service in the US is slower and more expensive than many other countries.

You can search for internet deals on NationalBroadBand.com based on your zipcode to try and find the best deal.

As of late-2017, the average cost of internet in the United States was $56.60/month, but you should expect that to differ pretty dramatically depending on how many providers are in your area.

How To Reduce Your Utility Bill

It’s possible to reduce the money you spend on electricity, water and gas simply by changing your habits or investing in energy-efficient appliances and insulation. Here are some changes that could possibly lead to big savings:

  • Work that thermostat: In the winter, keep your home colder when you’re not in the house and only boost the temperature when you return. In the summer, let the temperature rise in your home when you’re out. There’s no need to blast the heat or air conditioning if you’re not around to enjoy it.
  • Check your windows and doors: Drafty windows and doors cause your home’s heating and cooling systems to work harder. That increases your monthly utility bills. Replace windows that leak air with more efficient models. Do the same with your doors to keep the cold and hot air inside your home.
  • Take shorter showers: You can dramatically cut your water usage and lower your water bill by taking shorter showers. Reducing your shower time by as little as 5 minutes a day can make a dramatic impact.
  • Invest in a more efficient showerhead: New showerheads, even efficient ones, aren’t overly expensive. By investing in a showerhead that uses less water you can further reduce your monthly water bills by a significant amount.
  • Don’t use hot water in your washing machine: You’d be surprised at how much more energy your washing machine will use when you wash your clothes in hot water. To save on energy usage, wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead.
  • Fix faucets that leak: A leaky faucet is annoying, but it’s also expensive. All that dripping adds up to a lot of wasted water by the end of the month. Fix your drippy faucets and watch your water bill dip.
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances: It might be expensive to replace older appliances with energy-efficient models, but these newer models consume far less energy. Spending your money on a more efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, furnace or air conditioning unit can end up leaving you with far lower bills each month.
  • Invest in new light bulbs: Newer light bulbs of the fluorescent or LED variety consume far less energy than your typical halogen light bulb.

Utilities

Utilities for a home generally include water, electricity, gas and garbage service. For a family of four in Iowa, the water bill can range between $45 and $60 each month. The average electric bill for homeowners in Iowa is approximately $90 each month, and gas bills average around $60 per month. Waste removal services can range between $10 and $20 per month, depending on availability and location.

Approximate Cost of Utilities in Iowa Per Month: $215 Approximate Cost of Utilities in Iowa Per Year: $2,580

How much do utilities cost per month?

Adding everything we just talked about together, that’s a total of $419 , divided into $140 for electricity, $24 for water monthly, $110 for natural gas, $85 for cable, and $60 for the internet. That is how much the average Texan pays each month without factoring in the money-saving tricks we listed in each section.

Typical utility expenses

Utilities are services that keep your home comfortable, functional and safe. These include:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Heating and cooling
  • Water
  • Sewer use
  • Trash and recycling
  • Internet, phone and cable

How Much Is The Average Natural Gas Cost In The United States?

Wondering how much you’ll spend on natural gas costs when you move into a new home? Figuring this out can be tricky. That’s because there are so many variables that can impact your natural gas bill.

For example, your gas bill will be higher if your home’s furnace, water heater, oven, stove and dryer are powered by gas. If your home’s appliances are instead powered mostly by electricity, your monthly gas bill will drop.

It also matters where you live. Your area’s climate plays a major role in the size of your monthly gas bills. Heating a home accounts for the greatest consumption of natural gas. If you live in a cold climate where the winter months see frigid temperatures, you’ll probably spend more on natural gas than someone in a milder climate.

Then there’s the size of your home. As you can guess, it takes far more gas to heat a larger home. Consequently, you’ll pay more each month in natural gas if you own a big home.

You can impact how much gas your home consumes each month by boosting the energy efficiency of your home. Adding more insulation to your home’s walls, for instance, will keep the hot air in your residence for a longer amount of time. Multi-pane windows will do the same. Investing in furnaces and water heaters that are more efficient will also help reduce your monthly gas bills.

So, how much can you expect to pay each month in natural gas to heat your home and power your gas-fueled appliances? The American Gas Association most recently said that households in the United States spent an average of $661 a year in natural gas to heat and fuel their homes. That comes out to a bit more than $55 a month.

How Much Is the Natural Gas Bill in Texas?

A lot of people rely on natural gas for heating their houses and apartments. Not all people do, though. Around 70% of people use natural gas furnaces to heat their homes, the other 30% mainly being electric furnaces, especially in northern states. The situation is a little bit different in Texas. Since Texas’s climate is warmer overall than most other states, high-performance natural gas heaters aren’t needed as much as in the northern states. As a result, electric heaters typically have the lowest upfront costs. This is why only 40 percent of people living in Texas opt for natural gas heaters . Still, 40% of Texas is a lot of people, and those people typically have to pay a natural gas bill of $110.58 on average , which is pretty good compared to other states and the US average. In fact, Texas ranks the 12th lowest according to natural gas prices.

Some homes have relatively poor heat insulation, which puts more pressure on the heating system to keep up with heat seeping into the house in the cold months and effortlessly out of the house in the hotter summer months. As you might expect, having good heat insulation installed can significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the house. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that people can save 15% of all heating and cooling costs by adding quality insulation in the crawl spaces and attics , saving the average Joe about $200 every year.

From a studio apartment to a 4-bedroom apartment, here’s how much you can expect to pay for natural gas monthly:

  • The monthly gas bill for a studio apartment is $16.34
  • The monthly gas bill for a 1-bedroom apartment is $18.85
  • The monthly gas bill for a 2-bedroom apartment is $37.36
  • The monthly gas bill for a 3-bedroom apartment is $52.21
  • The monthly gas bill for a 4-bedroom apartment is $70.41

Typically, your electrical bill and natural gas bill will be lumped together. If you want to dive deeper into what your bill summary would be, you can head to your utility provider’s website. There, you’ll find a quick overview of how much gas and electricity you’ve used.

Quick tip: When moving to a new apartment in Texas, try considering appliances that use natural gas. This is mainly because natural gas appliances tend to be less expensive than electrical appliances.

Cable and Internet

Cable and internet have become a staple in many homes throughout U.S. Iowans can expect to anywhere from $40 to $139 for cable and internet, depending on their location and available providers. A middle-of-the-road plan averages $70 per month.

Approximate Cost of Cable & Internet in Iowa Per Month: $70 Approximate Cost of Cable & Internet in Iowa Per Year: $840

What Is the Average Cost of Apartment Utilities?

So, to see how utilities add up, consider a hypoth

So, to see how utilities add up, consider a hypothetical tenant named Tom. Tom lives in Kansas and cranks up the air conditioning during the hot months, but runs high-efficiency heating appliances 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 and his roommates, you can expect to pay around $411 per month in total utilities for the apartment.

However, in addition to considering the average cost of apartment utilities, we also recommend checking with the landlord or the previous tenants to get a better idea of how much utilities cost for a specific apartment.

Check out the table below to find the average utility bills in your state:

What Other Factors Affect My Utility Bills ?  

Your energy costs depend on where you live and the weather there. In warmer states, like New Mexico, South Carolina, or Florida, the climate may not require you to heat your home for as many months as Alaska, Idaho, or Wisconsin. However, warmer weather can also mean higher energy bills during the summer because of air conditioning expenses. 

The key is demand. When the need for energy is high, it costs your provider more to ensure adequate energy supplies. As a result, you’ll see higher prices. For example, a severe cold snap or a heat wave often means people’s energy consumption increases because they’re running their HVAC.  

To a large degree, your water bill will also depend on how you use water and where you live. For example, if you live in the dry West, expect your monthly water bill to be higher than the Pacific Northwest, where water is more plentiful.  

Consumption is just as crucial as location when it comes to the average cost of utilities for a house. It’s simple logic: the more you use, the more it will cost you. 

Food Costs

Your grocery bill likely won’t be too crazy when it comes to figuring out what is the cost of living in Virginia. On the cost of living index, Virginia scored below the national average when it comes to food costs. In Richmond, expect to pay around $300 a month in groceries.

Granted, food costs will vary depending on where you live in Virginia. For instance, in the city of Ashburn food and grocery costs are 4.2% more expensive than in Woodbridge, Virginia. 

You’ll also want to budget for nights out on the town, eating at the great restaurants the state has to offer. For a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, your bill will be around $15. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost you around $60.

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.

Ways to cut energy costs

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce energy usage and your utility bills:

  • Turn off and unplug – While this change might seem minor, standby power accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of residential energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Turning off appliances regularly could save you up to $100 per year.
  • Install ceiling fans – Ceiling fans promote circulation, so you might be able to get away with a higher thermostat setting, which lowers costs.
  • Upgrade to more efficient appliances – Products with the Energy Star label meet government efficiency standards, and sometimes more so. Energy Star refrigerators, for example, are at least 15 percent more efficient than the minimum efficiency criteria. In short, these types of appliances use less energy and can help you save money.
  • Switch to LEDs – Residential LED lighting uses at least 75 percent less energy, according to the DOE, and lasts longer compared to incandescent lighting. The result: an average annual savings of about $225. Pair the LEDs with timers and dimmers to really maximize these savings.
  • Install solar panels – Solar panels produce energy from the sun, a free power source. The cost to install solar panels isn’t cheap, however, but the expense tends to pay off in the long run. You can estimate your potential savings using this tool.
  • Use smart meters – Smart meters are devices attached to appliances that track their energy usage, sending readings directly to the utility provider. If the smart meter shows a spike in usage, you can take steps like using less power or water to reduce consumption.
  • Request an energy audit – A home energy auditor can identify where your home is losing energy. If you make the energy upgrades recommended by the auditor, you could save between 5 percent to 30 percent on your bills, according to the DOE.

How Much Does Natural Gas Cost?

CenterPoint Energy says natural gas prices tend to be two to three times lower than electric prices in an area because gas is 90% more efficient, and it takes a lot less energy to extract natural gas from its source than it does to generate electricity. Your bill includes delivery costs and an interim rate adjustment. Season and location are the two main factors for your natural gas bill. Unlike electricity that’s generated nearby, natural gas is shipped in from where it’s extracted and stored. So, the further you live from a distribution point, the more expensive your gas bill will be.

The average cost of natural gas for residential use is $10.45 per thousand cubic feet, or around $63 per month. You can keep these costs to a minimum by keeping your heating system maintained, using a smart thermostat, turning down your water heater and sealing all leaks around windows and doors.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

It’s more than likely that the seller will come back to you with a counteroffer. That’s just part of the negotiations. It’s up to you whether you can comfortably accept their counter, respond with your own counteroffer, or walk away. 

Keep your finances in mind and don’t let yourself get carried away in the excitement of buying your first home. No matter how much you might think a house is perfect for you, if you can’t comfortably afford it, it’s time to think twice. 

Remember buyers: you need to know what a home will require in order for it to be up to your expectations of build quality. Houses may need a few things fixed either prior to purchasing a home or immediately after. It’s important to be aware of these issues, as it may cause a headache further down the road after you’ve purchased the house.

Often, if the seller is motivated enough to sell the house, they might work with you and include fixes and light renovations as a stipulation in the contract for the sale of the house. Making sure you have inspectors and independent contractors to inspect the house for any major issues can help save you a headache in the long run.

You also need to be aware of the market surrounding the house. If you look around at the neighborhoods close to the home you’re considering, you may find other locations that may be a better price, closer to an important location, or simply newer than the one that you’re considering. Ensuring that you’re aware of the area and not focused on one house can help make sure that you’re making the best choice possible when putting in an offer, and not necessarily choosing the first one on the list.

Ensure you don’t bid either too high or too low on the house. Bidding too high will probably get you the house quicker, but you may end up paying over market value for the home and will probably have to recoup that cost before you can be in a suitable position to generate equity into the home.

Offer too little and the buyer may outright refuse and will greatly decrease your chances of landing the home that you want to purchase. When in doubt, consult a professional Realtor who knows the market.

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