The Cost of Utilities

by Erika Torres

One of the downsides of moving to our new home—okay, the only downside of moving to our new home, has been that we now pay utilities.

At our old love shack, we only paid rent and everything was included. I never saw a cable, gas, electric, water or phone bill. And now, I see them all.

I was really worried about how much our utilities would cost. So I compared gas and electricity prices in my area, as well as shopped around for cable, internet, and phone services.

Now that we’ve been living here for a few months, our utilities have averaged about $160 a month. Not too shabby indeed! I think we had higher utility bills when we were living in our first apartment!

The Breakdown of Utilities

This is what we pay for a two-bedroom townhome per month:

Cable: $40
Internet: $25
Water: $32
Electric: $32
Gas: $15
House Phone: $20
TOTAL: $164

Where we save on utilities

When we lived in an apartment, we were paying about $110 a month for cable and internet. This time around, I said we were either going to do without cable or find a cheap alternative, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. There was no way we were going to spend more than $1300 a year on cable and Internet.

We got lucky and signed up with DirectTV! $40 a month for cable is a win in my book—and this way I can still watch all my trashy TV.

We didn’t bundle any of our services, because we found we could get better prices by not bundling. The biggest savings was definitely through cable. I couldn’t find cable cheaper than $100 except for DirectTV.

Where we splurge on utilities

The one splurge I really needed to do was buy a house phone. I resisted a lot to the idea of getting a house phone. Why would we waste $20 a month, or $240 a year, when we could just use our cell phones? The problem is we get horrible service in our home. Calls get dropped all the time, or they cut out. I finally bit the bullet and bought a house phone when Eric was injured and I had no other way of reaching him during the day.

Overall, I am really happy with how much our utilities are. I was honestly scared about how much extra we were going to need to pay in addition to our rent, and budgeted for at least $200-$300 more.

Currently, our rent combined with utilities take up about 41% of our monthly income. However, we have a few income changes in the works that I hope will help lower this number within the next two to seven months.

How do our utility costs compare to yours?

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Jennifer June 21, 2012 - 12:37 pm

Get an ooma ( ). We haven’t paid for house phone service for 3 years, and as long as the internet works, we have service. Works perfectly.

Anne @ Unique Gifter May 24, 2012 - 7:00 pm

$100 for CABLE?! Egad that’s terrible! So glad you didn’t go there!
Our expenses are all bundled into our condo fees, so they total $460/month, but the only bills we pay are our cell phones and annual property taxes. Plus there’s a hot tub, pool, gym, etc. Included in that is $3/month for shared internet and $22/month for bulk purchased cable.
We don’t have to mow lawns, shovel driveways, or buy propane for our bbq. The fees are a tad steep and have been about $30 lower in the past; hopefully they will go down again soon.

eemusings May 20, 2012 - 2:52 am

Power runs from about $70-100 depending on season. We pay $80 for broadband and internet. Water is about $30 a month. And pay TV is $50 for the basic package, plus any movies we buy (and sometimes we add on the movie channels for a month at a time. And right now we have SoHo on there for Game of Thrones.)

Jess @JessCantCook May 19, 2012 - 11:02 am

We’re sort of in the opposite position, we were house sitting for a family member over the past two years and only paying utilities (it was a big house though, and a pain to heat and cool). Now since we moved we’re back to paying both rent and utilities. We decided not to get a house phone or cable (for now) and use our cell phones and a combo of a digital receiver ($30 on time cost to get the local stations) Hulu Plus and Netflix through my husband’s xBox. Our water and trash are included in the rent but generally it looks like this:

Electric – $50-60
Internet – $20
Hulu/Netflix – $15

If you add in our wireless plan ($140 for two phones, both with data) we pay about $235 a month which I don’t think is too bad considering we live in a pretty expensive city!

Amandalynn Sawyer May 19, 2012 - 6:51 am

You haven’t been there in the heart of Summer and Winter months yet, right? Did you find out the record highs and lows for your area utilities too? We live in So Cal – so our weather is MESSED up… (seriously. TV is SO not right about us!) It gets to about 30 degrees in winter and all the way up to and beyond 115 in the summer (regularly – not even records) so our electric bills average more along the lines of $20 – $150 depending on the season (and thats for a tiny one bedroom love shack!) We paid almost 400/mo in Summer when i rented a 2br before I got married.

C’est pas bien! Es no bueno!

My boss paid double what our averages are for a 2 br one story home – and doubled that again when she upgraded to her 4br 2 story. She has since invested in Solar, and is now powering the neighborhood and pays almost zero on her bills.. (her solar lease is about $130/mo for that 4br 2 story – and that never changes).

Believe me – i’ll look into solar when I buy a house… 🙂

Jeff May 19, 2012 - 6:51 am

During the summer my electric bill runs about $100 a month. During the winter it’s been up to $250 a month.

Jessica @ Budget For Health May 18, 2012 - 2:18 pm

I’m not too excited about those expenses! It will be nice having our own place though instead of our 1br apartment.
$25 electric bill
$66 cell phones (dumb phones with no data plan)
$0 heating, comes free with apartment.
$0 cable, no TV…we cuddle up in front of the laptop. Wifi included with apartment.
$0 Netflix, mooch off the parents’s subscription or watch shows on

I’ll miss this simple life down the road haha

Frugal Portland May 18, 2012 - 1:35 pm

I pay $75 a month for utilities and I think I am overpaying. Especially if a regular home is $160, my little mother-in-law suite shouldn’t foot half the bill!

Jai Catalano May 18, 2012 - 11:05 am

I bundled all of my services for 79.99 a month. I hustled this deal for 3 freaking hours.

KendraD May 18, 2012 - 10:02 am

We currently live in government issued quarters, which means that we only pay for our internet service. We have an ADSL line, at the fastest download speed, and because we are club members, I think we only pay about 60 a month for it. If we actually paid for our home line it’d be another 30 a month, but we have an operator that we can dial 24/7, so we just do that. The worst part about the phone lines here is that there isn’t caller id, so if you miss a call, there’s no way to know who it was.

bogofdebt May 18, 2012 - 8:34 am

Gas-$45 (now but not sure about winter yet)
Trash-$19 per month but paid every 2 months

It adds up quickly but last month was the first month where I wasn’t paying a deposit on the gas so we’ll see how it all turns out!

DCSquared May 18, 2012 - 8:20 am

The gas and electric bill is AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!

Debt and the Girl May 18, 2012 - 8:15 am

This is a really interesting article. Thanks for the tips!

Daisy May 18, 2012 - 6:28 am

We live in an apartment that pays for lots of our utilites, so we’re only stuck with what we in Canada call “hydro” at $30 /mo or so. Other than that we’re free and clear! Oh, and internet at $35/month. Cable came free with the apartment.

Jordann @ My Alternate Life May 18, 2012 - 5:50 am

Have you tried a Magic Jack? That could give you the benefits of a home phone but with less cost. I’d have one but my internet is very bad so it wouldn’t work for me. I’d include the link but I don’t want this comment to get caught in your spam. Just a thought!

Tammy May 18, 2012 - 5:49 am

For this month:
Water: Approx $40 (we water our yard)
Trash: $20
Cable & Internet (we bundle): $150 <— Looks like maybe I should be shopping around?! I'll have to see what is available in our area (Wichita, KS)
Gas: $33.18
Electric: $40.60

Tanner May 18, 2012 - 5:47 am

I guess I am lucky that the room where I am renting now does not charge for utilities, just flat rent. One thing I KNOW for certain I’d splurge on would be the internet. I can do without TV and without a landline (and most likely will, when the time comes), but reliable, decent internet is something I’m not all that willing to let go of.

Michelle May 18, 2012 - 5:15 am

Gas – $40 (in the winter it’s around $100)
Electric – $50 (in the summer it’s around $150)
Internet – $50
Sewer – $30
Garbage – around $12 i think
Water – $25.

It adds ups so quickly!


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