How Much Should You Budget for Utilities
You know how much you’re going to be paying in rent each month, but have you taken the time to calculate the utility costs you’ll be responsible for as well? Before you sign the lease on your fancy new apartment, do some research to see how much more money you’ll need to set aside each month to pay for these services.
The essential services typically include gas, electricity, water, and waste collection. Your lease agreement should state which services will be covered by the landlord and which services you’ll be required to pay for on your own. With the rising cost of utilities, the apartment you’ve got your eye on could go from affordable to unaffordable in an instant. Accurately budgeting for your utilities each month can save you from some major headaches down the road.
Natural Gas/Heating Oil
Based on a 2018 study conducted by Wallethub.com, the typical U.S. household spends anywhere between $4-$58 dollars per month on natural gas. You can add another $1-$65 on top of that if your home uses oil for heating. Obviously, where you live and what type of appliances you have in your home will help you determine where you’re most likely to fall within (or outside) this set of ranges.
In the United States, more money is spent on electricity than any other essential utility by a wide margin. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult to accurately budget for on a month-to-month basis. From the same study referenced above, electricity costs in the U.S. range from $87-$176 per month.
Once again, where you live plays a big role in how much you can expect to pay. If you live in a warmer climate where you need to run the air conditioner constantly, you may have to plan on paying even more than $176 a month. To be safe—and until you know for sure how much you’ll be paying—budget toward the higher side of the spectrum.
While landlords will often include water as part of the total rent in your lease, you’ll sometimes be expected to set up your own service and pay a monthly bill. Statistically, a person uses anywhere between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day, and that translates to a monthly expense of about $70 per month for an average family. Use this amount when budgeting for water for your first month of service, and then adjust it according to how much you actually have to pay.
The average cost for waste collection and recycling is between $12 and $20 per month. This is the easiest utility to budget for as the actual price can be determined with a short phone call and doesn’t fluctuate from month to month.
Hopefully, this information will give you a better idea about budgeting for your essential utilities. If you’re still feeling unsure or wish for a more definitive amount based on where you’ll be living, you should ask other tenants in the building what they’re paying for their utilities on average. The landlord should also be able to provide you with information. Click here if you’d like to find out how you can make your utility costs more manageable.