Apartment Utilities: What Renters Should Expect to Pay

Apartment utilities are a must-have for any renter and as such, it’s important to understand how much you’ll pay per month for utilities.

Apartment utilities are a must-have for any renter and as such, it’s important to understand how much you’ll pay per month for utilities.

Found the perfect apartment? Check. Signed the lease? With the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed. Set up your utilities? Pending.

When looking for an apartment to rent, you must consider both the cost of the rent itself and apartment utilities, which your rent seldom covers. So, what should you expect to pay each month? Here’s your complete guide to apartment utilities. We’ll walk you through what they are, the average cost and how to budget for them.

What are apartment utilities?

Apartment utilities are those must-have features — think water and electricity — that everyone needs but hardly anyone wants to set up or pay for. Alas, it’s just a fact of apartment living that you need apartment utilities to have a fully-functioning, livable home. The basic apartment utilities include:

  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Natural gas
  • Sewage
  • Trash and recycling
  • Water

Additional utility fees can include:

  • Cable TV services
  • Streaming services
  • Security systems
  • HOA fees

Because apartment utilities are essential, you’ll want to understand how to set them up and how much to set aside each month to pay for them.

Will my landlord cover any apartment utilities?

Depending on the apartment complex and the terms of your lease, your rent may cover some utilities. Generally, you’ll be responsible for water, electricity, natural gas and the internet. Some property managers may cover the cost of sewage, trash and recycling, though. Before signing your lease, it’s smart to get a thorough understanding of what you’ll be responsible for and what the landlord will cover.

Calculating utility bills

Calculating utility bills

How much do apartment utilities cost?

Unfortunately, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The cost of apartment utilities varies based on several factors. Here are some things to consider when calculating the cost of apartment utilities:

Time of year

You use some utilities, like water, year-round. And you use others, like heating or air conditioning, seasonally. You may see your AC bill increase in the hot summer months when you crank up the air to cool down. Likewise, your heating bill will be more expensive when the snow falls as you’re trying to stay warm. The time of year and outside temperature are factors that impact the cost of some utilities.

Usage

Some utilities — like internet or cable TV — have a flat rate per month, meaning you’ll pay the same amount each month for the service. Other services — like water, electricity or natural gas —price their utilities on usage. So, if you use more water one month compared to another, your bill may increase or decrease in price.

Location

The cost of utilities can vary by geographic region. If you live in a desert or drought-prone region, you may pay more for water compared to other states. If you’re considering an interstate move, ask the locals how much they pay for their apartment utilities so you have an understanding of those costs.

Utility provider

Different cities and states have different utility providers with different pricing structures. When moving to a new location, do some research and compare the cost of utilities between each available provider in your region.

Size of apartment

The size of your apartment will impact the cost of your utilities. It’s pretty simple — the bigger your space, the more expensive your apartment utilities will be. When you’re weighing the pros and cons of a one-bedroom vs. a two-bedroom apartment, remember that the two-bedroom will cost more for both rent and utilities.

The average cost of utilities

We’ve mentioned that the average cost of utilities varies based on several factors. However, there are estimates out there for how much each utility will cost per month. In general, renters should set aside roughly $250 a month for utilities. On average, each utility costs the following per month:

  • Electricity: $115
  • Water: $70
  • Internet: $60
  • Natural gas: $64
  • Trash and recycling: $15

Again, you can ask your local utility provider or future neighbors how much they pay per month for utilities to get a more accurate gauge on the cost of apartment utilities.

Couple saving money

Couple saving money

How to save money on apartment utilities

Now that we’ve covered how much apartment utilities can cost, let’s talk about some ways to save money on apartment utilities.

Split the cost with a roommate

If you have a roommate, you can split the cost of utilities down the middle. This is a great way to cut your monthly costs in half.

Turn off the lights

You may have had your mom yell at you to turn off the lights your whole childhood. And now you understand why! Keeping the lights on costs you money, while turning them off can save you money. Likewise, turn off appliances when you aren’t using them to save on electricity.

Use fans instead of AC

In those hot summer months, opt for a fan instead of cranking up the AC. Running the AC non-stop can quickly add up. In the cooler months of the year, make sure you don’t have any drafts where heat is sneaking out doors or windows. Keep your home properly insulated to save money.

Switch to energy-efficient utilities

You might not have a solar panel in your apartment, but you can make small changes to make your home more energy-efficient. Opt for smart light bulbs or thermostats and you can save a penny or two on your monthly utility bill.

How to set up apartment utilities

Setting up apartment utilities are a hassle, so you be prepared before move-in day. Here are some key things to keep in mind when setting up your apartment utilities.

Cancel with your existing utility provider

Before switching to a new provider, you’ll need to cancel with your old provider. In some cases, you can cancel the service immediately, but in other cases, you’ll have to wait to close out your account until the billing cycle ends. Make sure to cancel your provider at the right time so you have utilities until you move out but no longer than you actually need.

Schedule ahead of time with your new utility provider

It can take a few days for new utility providers to get you set up, so, call ahead to line up new utilities at your new apartment. Let the utility provider know when you’re moving in and they can set up your utilities to turn on at the right time. You don’t want to pay double for utilities in the moving period, so plan accordingly.

Budget for set-up fees

Many utility providers have a one-time set-up fee that you must pay in order to start using their service. While this is annoying, it’s just a fact of life. When budgeting, ask about the set-up fee and make sure you have it in your budget so you aren’t caught off guard.

Get your paperwork ready

Because you’re setting up a recurring payment and service, almost all utility providers will need your personal information to set up the new account. Be prepared with things like your name, new address, birthday, Social Security number and even your bank information for a credit check.

Lights, camera, action!

Understanding the ins and outs of apartment utilities will help you feel prepared and confident during your next move. Apartment renters should expect to pay for some, if not all, of the apartment utilities. Budget at least $250 per month for apartment utilities and if you’re smart, you may spend less each month and save a little more for the fun stuff.

Source: rent.com