Planning for Your First Utility Bill

If you are moving in to your first apartment or home, there are a lot of considerations to take into account that you might not be used to yet. Paying rent or your mortgage is the largest expense you will face, but don’t forget about your utility bill! Depending on your living situation, your utility bill each month might be quite sizeable. So exactly how much will it cost? Below you’ll find information that will help you figure it all out.

Which devices or appliances do you have that use energy?

The first step for planning for your first utility bill is to take an inventory of all of the devices and services in your home that might influence the bill. Such services might include heating, electricity, air conditioning, Internet, cable, and cooking gas. Once you have catalogued all of these sources, it’s time to start adding up how much that will likely cost you.

Heat

The first thing to consider when calculating your heat is whether you are in an apartment or a house. If you are in an apartment you may not be charged for heat, since the cost is sometimes built into each month’s rent. However, if you are in a house, then things are more complicated. Since there are several different methods for heating a home, this will entirely depend on your situation. As a point of reference, the national average (when considering all energy sources) is roughly $160 a month, according to the Energy Services Group. When considering heating options, make sure you know the pricing situation before signing a lease.

Electricity

Usually, electricity bills are somewhere around $30–$50 a month. This can vary based on what types of electrical devices you have and how much you use them. Do you use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs? Do you have outside lights that are left on through the night? These things can drastically impact the amount of electricity you consume each month. It should also be mentioned that if you require air conditioning, expect your electricity bill to be higher in hot months.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is difficult to predict because its cost depends on how much you use it. In some areas, air conditioners are rarely needed, while in others they are used year round. For a point of reference, let’s look to national averages: in the US, the average household spends roughly $280 a year on air conditioning, which is about $24 a month. Of course, during the winter you can usually expect to spend little to no money on air conditioning, while during a very warm summer, you might pay $60–$70 a month.

Cooking Gas

Do you use a gas stove? If so, you are using natural gas—but the cost is generally fairly low at about $10 a month. This won’t break the bank, but you’ll want to remember this cost when calculating energy usage.

Non-Utilities to Consider:

The following items won’t be rolled into any of your utilities bills—water, sewage, gas—but they are common costs to keep in mind when budgeting for the month.

Internet

According to a study by the New American Foundation, you can expect to pay roughly $35 a month for Internet access at home. However, this can vary based on which area you are in, who your Internet provider is, and if you have any other add-ons rolled into your Internet cost.

Cable

If you have cable television, it is likely you will have it bundled with Internet. You can expect to pay about $90 a month for such a package, though this price can also be higher if you want more channels or access to premium video-steaming apps. Additionally, keep in mind the extra energy usage that comes from utilizing cable and Internet services, as that will have an effect on your overall electricity bill.

Add it up!

Once you have figured all of this out, add everything up. To use the numbers we provided as an example: if you lived in an apartment and used the average amount of electricity, air conditioning, cooking gas, and had an average Internet connection, here’s how everything would play out.

Heat ($0, rolled into rent)+Electricity ($40)+Air Conditioning ($24)+Cooking Gas ($10)+Internet ($35)+Cable ($90)=$199

If all this sounds like a lot of work, we’d be happy to help! Check out our website to get a quote on how much your gas and electric will cost you based on your location—or give us a call at 1-844-4MY-STAR to talk with a representative.

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