Utility Bills 101 | Utilities Tips, Fees and Average Costs
An important aspect of moving that sometimes doesn’t get enough attention is budgeting and managing your finances. Oh no, we aren’t talking about moving costs. We’re talking about your cost of living after you’ve completed the move. Trust the cost of living of your new life to happily pull the strings of your finances. If you don’t plan your finances well, you are going to be a mere puppet to all the recurring expenses that the move brings.
Knowing how much you will be paying on Utility Bills is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of managing your finances. It doesn’t matter which city you’re moving to, you should always account for the Utility Bills and get a sound understanding of how much that would set you back. One thing you should be aware of – how much you spend on Utility Bills would depend on which state you’re moving to. Each state is different in this regard.
So if you would like to get yourself up to speed with Utility Bills and enhance your financial management skills a bit, our elaborate guide Utility Bills 101 should certainly help here.
What Do Utility Bills Include?
We’re not trying to assume the character of captain obvious here, but it’s always good to start with the basics. The average cost can certainly differ for each city/state. However, Utility Bills fundamentally include the following:
- Water Bill: $71
- Gas Bill: $75
- Electricity Bill: $108
- Internet Service Bill: $66
- Cable TV Bill: $80
- Sewage Bill: $30
- Trash Bill: $14
Now, it’s important to remember that not all these bills will be applicable to each household. In fact, you could also consider Condo Bill as a part of your utilities. Then again, it would only be for those who are actually living in a Condominium. Now that we’ve given you a basic overview, let’s delve deeper into each of these categories so you have a better idea of how they function, the average costs, and what you can do to save money in that area.
While we can all consider ourselves fortunate enough for the clean and easy water access we have here in the US, it doesn’t really paint the complete picture. Los Angeles, Miami and Tuscon are just some of the cities in the country who are experiencing water crisis in varying magnitudes. There’s a very good chance that the Water Bill you’re currently paying makes a considerable hole in your pocket. That’s because Water Bills have been exponentially increasing since the past decade. Should be easy to see why we insist on developing a sound understanding of your water bill.
Understanding Your Water Bill
Don’t be fooled by anyone telling you that your Water Bill is calculated on the basis of your consumption and usage of water each day of the month. While that’s not entirely wrong, it’s an oversimplified explanation which doesn’t consider numerous other variables in picture. For starters, a Water Bill could have the same price for everyone – irrespective of their usage, a price structure where residents are charged on the basis of per unit of consumption, or the billing structure could be such that they pay a higher amount for higher units of usage. Just so you know, your water usage is measured in either Centum Cubic Feet (CCF) or Gallons.
Basically, there are multiple different ways in which Water Bills are structured. The ones we mentioned above are just a few of them. What this means is that water consumption efforts, operation costs of the Utility company, water availability in the region, type of residents, the season, patterns of water usage in the neighborhood and need for maintenance of pipes and other infrastructure all act as variables in how your bill is calculated. So you’re not always paying just for water consumption, but you’re also paying towards the entire system of maintaining pipes, transporting water, purification and just about anything else involved,
Average Water Bill In The US
According to Statista, on a monthly basis, the average US household had to shell out a staggering $115.5 in the year 2019. This cost was calculated on the basis of each individual, every day, in the family of 4, having a usage of around 150 gallons of water. In fact, a minimum spike in cost of 27% was recorded for Water Bills in the US, between the years 2010 and 2018. In the case of Austin, Texas, the numbers hit the roof as the city experienced an increase of over 150% in their cost of water bills. All in all, the average amount that people pay towards the Water Bill in the US stands around $71.
Average Water Usage In The US
Let’s put things in perspective. On a daily basis, we Americans approximately use 90 gallons of water on an average. Interestingly, this water usage primarily includes Flushing Toilets and Taking Showers. If you’re one of those people who likes to comfortably float in a bathtub filled with water, you should know that you’re making use of as much as 36 gallons of water.
Over 68% of the water usage per individual takes place indoors. This could very well include keeping the tap on when brushing your teeth, water consumption made by dishwashers and washing machines, among other things. To give you an idea, it is believed that the average US family can have a water usage of over 310 gallons. Seems too much? Well, it sure is!
Of course, there’s no ignoring the fact that the water usage would be different depending on the season, the weather, the state you’re living in, number of people living together and even your lifestyle for that matter. How much time you spend indoors is also a significant contributing factor. It would make even more difference if you live by yourself.
Tips To Save On Water Bills
As we’ve already covered, your water bills more often than not depend on your overall usage. But hey, hydration is important, so don’t think of cutting short on your water consumption. What you can do instead is not let your tap go with flow, especially when you’re brushing your teeth. Even when it comes to washing dishes, letting your tap freestyle is kind of irresponsible. If anything, that’s like a very warm invitation to higher than usual water bills.
We know that sneaking into a tub that’s ready to embrace you with warm water up to the brim can be therapeutic, to say the least. Although, you’re not doing yourself any favors there when it comes to reducing your water bills. So avoid using bathtubs. If you want, you can use it like once every couple of months when you feel like coddling yourself a bit. Similarly, you can cut short the amount of time you take a shower for, while also letting the shower keep running. That’s just another major contributing factor towards increased water usage.
Unless your water usage in general stretches to the max, you don’t really have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. All you have to do is ensure you’re being mindful every time you use water. Also, make sure that you don’t have leaky faucets and taps that keep running unattended. Even taking care of such things can make a considerable difference at times.
This is the amount you pay for using natural gas, be it for furnaces run by gas, water heaters, or any other devices which utilize natural gas instead of electricity. Think of it as the energy supply that helps you cook food or get access to hot water. Just as it’s the case with every other utility on the list, the cost of Gas Bills can also vary from one state to another. Before we get into the numbers though, let’s understand how gas Bills are calculated.
Understanding Your Gas Bill
Your Gas Bill can be structured in multiple ways, such as fixed rates or variable rates. Which means, you can be billed either on the basis of your total consumption of natural gas energy, or there will be a blanket price associated for a specific amount of gas consumption. This could very well be incremental in nature too, where your charges keep increasing with your consumption. Again, these are just billing models, but there’s more to what impacts gas bills.
We get that nobody likes being bombarded by pushy salesmen and in-your-face marketing activities. However, you still have to make sure you’re making an informed decision when you’re buying your gas furnaces and other appliances. Simply because a quality product is what draws the line between an exorbitant bill amount and one that seems fairly normal. Then, there’s also the actual price of gas which keeps fluctuating and impacts the final cost.
In terms of the measurement of your usage, gas companies calculate on the basis of either CCF (100 cubic feet) or MCF (1000 cubic feet). Both of these are volume based metrics. The other metric that’s used is heart units. In this scenario, Therms or BTU (British Thermal Unit). Don’t get confused by the abbreviations though. They’re all just measurement units.
Average Gas Bill In The US
As of 2019, the average Gas Bill amount in the US ranges between $75 and $85. But it could very well be higher if you’re living in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Hawaii or a few of the other states. To give you a bit of an idea, Hawaii currently takes the top spot in the list of states with the highest amount of average Gas Bill, with the amount soaring as high as $220 approximately. Insane, isn’t it? Florida, although considerably far behind, has a jaw-droppingly high average of $117.57 per month, as shared by Statista.
Average Gas Usage In The US
For the month of July in 2020, 2490 BCF was recorded to be the average estimated amount of natural gas which was consumed across the US. To put things in perspective, approximately 165 cubic feet is believed to be the average usage of natural gas that takes place everyday in a US household. While this might seem like a high amount, it’s far from alarming due to the fact that the US has an abundance of natural gas production and infrastructure to support the country for decades to come.
Tips To Save On Gas Bills
Don’t underestimate the significance of timely maintenance. You’ll be surprised at how big a difference it can make, given the fact that increased gas bills is often due to a choked up or even an unclean air filter. In case you weren’t aware, the air filter of your furnace is what takes the responsibility of smoothly transferring heat. So the more effort it will have to put into the task, the more energy it ends up using.
However, don’t think that the idea of maintenance is only restricted to the air filter. Think of it holistically and make sure each component and part is looked at. Some people suggest annual maintenance, but then again, there’s no harm in giving it a check every 6 months or so. Another thing which can help in this regard is setting up a smart thermostat in your home. It will certainly make some difference.
Want us to shed some light on it? Or would you rather get straight to the charges? Well, just like the previous two utility bills, the Electricity Bill also has numerous components to it. Of course, your lights, fans, electric stove, refrigerator, microwave and several other appliances would play the willing protagonists of the final Electricity Bill amount – assuming the cost isn’t all that high. So let’s get into what you should know about Electricity Bill calculations.
Understanding Your Electricity Bill
First thing’s first – you need to know the metric on the basis of which the calculation is carried out. KWHs is the standard metric used across the country, which is nothing but Kilowatts per hour. Although, Electricity providers gauge things on the basis of the readings displayed on the digital meters. Unlike the water bill and gas bill though, the Electricity Bill is rather straightforward. You pay for how much you use is typically the case in every scenario.
Some factors which could affect the final Electricity bill are the state/city you’re living in, the billing structure, the components included in your bill, the dependence on various energy sources in your region, the amount of energy your essential appliances require to function and your total consumption in general. In essence, higher usage of electricity won’t always equate to a higher bill amount, if all the other factors in play are favourable.
Average Electricity Bill In The US
Consider it a standard template of sorts where almost every different utility bill would vary from one state to another. However, if we were to talk about the national average, you can consider $0.12 as the amount for each KWH. Now, if you were to get an idea of the highest average of any state in the US, Hawaii tops the list yet again, with $0.33 KWH. On the contrary, you have Idaho where residents pay a mere $0.08/KWH on an average. On a monthly basis, the amount ranges between $108 and $112 in the US.
Average Electricity Consumption In The US
One of those appliances that’s essential but doesn’t cost a bomb. Ceiling Fans traditionally take up approximately 0.074 KWH at an approximate cost of $0.01 per hour.
Now, while the kind of bulbs used in this can contribute to a varying amount, Night Lights tend to consume 1.40 KWH on a monthly basis, assuming that it stays on for about 11 hours everyday. The approximate cost for this can be $0.14 on a monthly basis.
As long as you don’t have one of those air conditioners which sucks up insane amounts of energy, your average energy usage would be about 3.2 KWH with an approximate cost of $0.35 per hour.
This will again depend on the type and size of your refrigerator, but you can consider 50 KWH as an average monthly consumption, for which the cost can be about $5.60 per month.
On an average, the energy usage for this would be around 1.5 kwh per load. The approximate cost would be around $0.20 per load.
The cost can vary for a Light Load and a Heavy Load. So if you have to consider an approximate middle ground, it would be 3.5 KWH per load at approximately $0.35 per load.
Typically, washing machines consume about 6.0 KWH with each load. For this quantity of energy usage, the average cost is usually around $0.68 per load.
This is one of those appliances which requires more energy. Water heaters can take up as much as 450 KWH each month, for which the charges can be about $58.50.
Tips To Save On Electricity Bills
You know those occasions where something is right in front of your face yet you end up missing or not noticing it? Saving on electricity bills can be a bit like that. The simplest of things will end up saving you a lot of money. For instance, remember you went to your study room just to check if you forgot your phone there and then left the lights turned on? Or the time you went to the bathroom but forgot to switch off the lights? Yes, it can literally be that simple.
Some other things to keep in mind is the condition and age of your appliances. If you have really old refrigerators, air conditioners and other appliances, chances are, they suck up much more juice as they aren’t as energy efficient. Which means it’s time to bid adieu to them and make a smarter investment. Then there’s also energy efficient bulbs. Don’t underestimate these as they can be game changers considering how often high energy consuming light bulbs spike up the electricity bill.
Another option you could consider is installing a solar panel. They have been known to cut back on electricity bills on occasions. Some other things you can do is make sure any appliance or electronic device is not unnecessarily plugged in and turned on.
See also: How to Make Home Energy Efficient
When moving, always check if you have the option of getting the same internet connection in your new city/town as your previous one, if you were always happy with the one you had. Different states and cities have different service providers and types of connections. So you can’t always get the same kind of speed or price in every part of the country.
Understanding Your Internet Bill
Your Internet Bill will seem pretty straightforward to you if you’re aware of the type of connection and the speed you’re using. The speed or quality of your internet connection will definitely be a major factor in the final bill. It all boils down to whether you’re using the lightning fast Fiber-optic connection, a DSL connection (the most affordable kind), a Satellite Internet connection or the one you get through your cable service.
If at all the term MBPS (Megabit Per Second) has always confused you, it’s nothing but a metric used to determine the speed of your internet connection. What this means is that the higher the MBPS you take for your internet connection, the higher your bill will be. But then again, the type of connection and the nature of your billing plan will also have an impact.
Average Internet Bill In The US
Before we get into the numbers, keep in mind that you might be paying more or less than the national average. If you happen to be paying more than the national average, it isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The reason behind that is the average would also account for all the 4 types of internet connections. So taking these things into consideration, the average internet bill in the US comes up to approximately $66 per month. Interestingly, it’s a bit lower than the average from 2019, where the approximate average was $71.
Average Internet Usage In The US
While this data isn’t calculated on the basis of an average US household’s usage, the median internet usage in the US is believed to be well above 250 GB, as predicted by OpenVault. Shouldn’t come as a surprise that streaming and OTT platforms such as HBO Max, Hulu and Netflix pave the way for higher internet usage.
Tips To Save On Internet Bill
There’s not a lot you can do in this area. One tip we can give you is to keep an eye out for offers you simply can’t refuse. Always check with various Internet Service Providers in your locale, compare their rates and their plans and research a bit about how good they really are. Speak to your neighbors also to get some feedback and reviews. One of the most common ways in which people skimp down upon Internet Bill is by clubbing it with the Cable Bill and taking both the services from the same provider.
Cable TV Bill
There’s certainly a possibility that you don’t pay as much towards your Cable TV Bill. In fact, we won’t be surprised if you don’t even use the services anymore (Netflix and co, this is all your doing!). However, there are still millions out there who enjoy this luxurious service. So let’s understand how the billing system works. Do keep in mind that a Cable Subscription isn’t really the same as a Digital Antenna.
Understanding Your Cable TV Bill
Your cable Television Bill would depend on the company whose services you avail, and the plan you choose. Typically, this works as a subscription model where you get a few standard channels for free and then rest are offered in bundles and packages. There are many custom packages also to choose from, like sports only or news only. These days, there’s also the option of only paying for the channels you require.
Average Cable TV Bill In The US
The average Cable TV Bill in the US ranges between $80 and $120. This cost is also impacted by the state you’re living in. Don’t get confused though, as this only accounts for traditional Cable Television. Not the streaming television service since that’s a unique entity of its own with distinct pricing models.
Average Cable TV Usage In The Usage
You may or may not fall into this category, but on an average, an American watches TV for approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes on a daily basis, as shared by Statista. However, it’s important to note that this estimate was calculated for the year 2019. It will surely have dropped further with internet based streaming services increasing in demand.
Tips To Save On Cable TV Bill
This won’t be too different from what you do for cutting costs on your internet bill. The idea remains the same where one of your alternatives is to club both your Cable TV and Internet bills by availing both the services from the same provider. The other alternative is to look for any interesting offers out there. Goes without saying, it’s always good to compare the various service providers out there and their rates. Finally, if you’re someone who only watches a few channels, look at a custom plan that’s suited to you. After all, there’s no point in paying for thousands of TV channels if you’re only going to be watching 10 of them.
If you’ve ever wondered why your Sewage Bill is so high that it can go toe-to-toe with your water bill, there’s a simple explanation. The entire amount of water you use goes into the sewer system. Just think of all that goes to drain every time you use water. Moreover, maintaining the infrastructure of sewer systems actually has a significant cost. After all, they have serious standards to maintain. Here’s what you should know about your sewage bill.
Understanding The Sewage Bill
The billing system of Sewer Bills depend on the city and how they handle the entire infrastructure and operations of the entire system. The amount you pay is used for a host of things, including paying the salaries of those cleaning sewers, fixing sewer systems and upkeep too, among other things. Like we mentioned above, the amount of water utilized on an average is what plays the key role in the Sewage Bill, as that’s what acts as the base. In most cases, around 95% of the water you use is billable as your total sewer consumption.
Average Sewage Bill In The US
The Sewage Bill is more often than not a part of the water bill itself, where both the entities are bundled together. If you take just Sewer Bill though, on an average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $45. Here’s the kicker though – there are cities like Seattle where the Sewer Bill tends to skyrocket up to $130. Fortunately though, there cities like Memphis on the other end of the spectrum, where Sewage Bill can be as minimal as about $16 or so.
Tips To Save On Sewage Bill
In a lot of ways, your Sewage Bill and your Water Bill go hand in hand. One of the easiest ways to reduce your sewage bill is to reduce your water usage. To sum it up, all we’re trying to say is the same things we advised you to do for reducing water usage applies here as well. Additionally, ensure that all your faucets are taps function properly and don’t keep leaking. Some other things you can do is ask a plumber to help you reduce or manage the intensity of the waterflow from all your taps and faucets if it’s too much.
In this land of diversity where people from all walks of life live together, there are a few things which almost everyone shares in common. Taking out trash once a week happens to be one of them. Of course, most of us are all too acquainted with that garbage truck making its mandatory weekly visit. But not all of us are aware about the entire system that’s in place, how the bill is calculated, and how the entire trash management system actually functions.
Understanding Your Trash Bill
Should come as no surprise that this works in numerous ways. The most common one being a monthly bill that is mailed to you. An interesting billing method that has been incorporated in certain parts of the country involves paying an amount every time a household has garbage they need to dispose of. This billing method involves the quantity of your garbage and even the total number of trash bags you need to get rid of.
In case you were wondering, the amount you pay is not only for the operational costs of Garbage Trucks and paying the salaries of people driving them, but it also includes development of waste management and garbage disposal systems. Apart from these things, maintaining the infrastructure and its upkeep are also areas where the money is invested.
Average Trash Bill In The US
Regardless of the billing system that’s applicable to you, your average trash bill is arguably going to be the most inexpensive utility bill you pay. Generally, US households pay around $14 to $18. In fact, the maximum cost of Trash Bill rarely exceeds $22 or so. But what about the cost of the recyclable collection you ask? Well, that is recorded to be as low as $1.13, by EPA Cost Collection Data. Just so you know, the cost is calculated on a weekly basis.
Average Trash In A US Household
Did you know that you produce around 4.4 pounds of non recyclable trash every day? Well, we don’t necessarily mean you, but that’s the statistic for an average American individual. Most of the overall trash generated by an individual includes plastic bottles, old clothes and footwear, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and of course, old books.
Tips To Save On Trash Bill
Have you considered living a minimalist lifestyle? Well, considering how they can help you reduce the amount of trash you generate, you should. The logic here is pretty straightforward – reduce the trash to reduce your trash bill. Those books and old clothes you were planning to dump, you could very well donate them if they’re still usable. You could also use peels of fruits and vegetables as compost if you have a garden or a backyard.
See also: Cheapest States to Move To
We can’t understate the importance of knowing how different utility bills work. It’s not only a good thing to know about, but it also helps you make better decisions to skimp down on the cost of utility bills if they seem to be soaring unusually high. Moreover, having a good understanding about Utility bills also helps you be prepared and improves your financial management skills. Trust us, you will need that when you plan on moving to a new city.