Calculating an apartment’s average electric bill is important, since electricity is a major line item in any household budget. There are many variables to consider.
Where you live, the type of heat in your building and even the time of year will influence your average electric bill. The appliances you use, the way you maintain your living space and your electricity usage patterns make a big difference. too.
By breaking old habits and learning new ones, you can keep your average electric bill as low as possible.
How much is the average electric bill for an apartment?
There really is no such thing as a universal average electric bill. The size of your home, its location and the way you use energy all come into play. A household’s bill can vary from month to month.
But it’s possible to study the data and come up with a baseline figure to help with budgeting. Each variable discussed below will help you refine your average electric bill estimate to more closely match your individual living situation.
As with everything in real estate, location matters. The cost of electricity varies widely from state to state. Some cities enjoy lower energy costs than their neighbors. The U.S. Electricity Information Association (EIA) charted the average energy cost by state in 2018. It will help give you an idea of where your state falls on the spectrum.
It’s also important to note that the average cost of energy has gone up in the last two decades, so the rates that you paid in your first apartment won’t be realistic now. The EIA reports that the average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for U.S. residences was 13.3 cents in July 2019, a marked increase from 7.73 cents per kWh in 2001.
Heating, cooling dominate the average electric bill
No matter where you live, heating and cooling will be two of your biggest expenses. The EIA reports that 51 percent of the average electric bill is dedicated to heat and air conditioning.
Location influences heating and cooling, as well. Your average electric bill will be higher in the summer months if you’re cranking up the air conditioning or running multiple window units. It will be higher overall if you live in a hot or humid place instead of a more temperate zone.
And prices can vary between apartments in the same building. A top floor, southern exposure apartment with no trees to block the sun will cost more to cool in the summer than a north-facing basement apartment with its windows shrouded in shrubs.
But that same basement apartment might have a higher winter heating bill than its upstairs neighbor. If the building is well-insulted and the windows are properly sealed, you’ll save money by keeping warm and cool air in.
Learn what’s included in your rent
If your apartment’s heating system, stove and water heater are all electric, your electric bill will naturally be higher. When considering a new apartment, be sure to discuss utilities with the property owner or management company.
Ask which utilities are included in your rent, since this can make a big difference in your bottom line. If electricity isn’t included in your rent, request estimates of previous electric bills from the property owner to get a better idea of your monthly expenses. Consider both summer and winter statements to get the most accurate picture of the estimated average electric bill.
Estimating your average electric bill by apartment size
Although a renter’s average electric bill varies widely by state (as well as city, month and apartment) there is a way to get a ballpark figure for your monthly bill. Call Me Power took the 2009 EIA data and calculated the average cost per square foot.
When combined with data detailing average apartment size, we’ve used it to provide a baseline for estimating the average electric bill for several apartment sizes shown below. Although these figures still inform average electric bill estimates today, it’s worth noting that they’re sourced from 2009 data.
The average electric bill for a studio apartment
Call Me Power estimates that homes of 500 to 1,000 square feet typically have an average electric cost of $0.10 per square foot. A typical studio apartment measures 516 square feet.
To calculate the average electric bill for a studio, take the square footage and multiply it by $0.10. In the case of a typical studio, 516 square feet x $0.10 = $51.60.
Glancing at the state energy cost chart referenced earlier this article will give you an idea of if your bill will be higher or lower than the average.
The average electric bill for a 1-bedroom apartment
The average one-bedroom apartment clocks in at 743 square feet. That’s larger than a studio, but still within the $0.10 per square foot rate range.
Using the formula detailed above, the average electric bill for a one-bedroom apartment is $74.30. Just remember it may be higher depending on your location, the time of year and whether your heat is electric.
The average electric bill for a 2-bedroom apartment
It becomes slightly cheaper per square foot to heat and cool larger floor plans. But since the homes are larger, the overall cost rises. Apartments that measure between 1,000 and 1,500 square feet typically cost $0.08 per square foot.
The average two-bedroom apartment measures 1,072 square feet, so the average electric bill for an apartment of this size would be $85.76. (Or higher if you’re blasting air-conditioning in the living space and both bedrooms.)
The average electric bill for a 3-bedroom apartment
A typical three-bedroom apartment measures 1,326 square feet. This is within the 1,000 to 1,500-square foot window, so the average cost per square foot is $0.08. This puts the monthly average electric bill for a home of this size at $106.08.
How to lower your average electric bill
If you feel like you’re using energy unwisely or want to spend less each month, there are many ways to lower your average electric bill. Making a few quick fixes and adjusting your habits can quickly add up.
1. Adjust the thermostat
Heating and cooling make up the bulk of your electric bill, so don’t pay to heat or cool an empty house when you’re at work or on vacation. You can also turn down the heat considerably when you’re sleeping. Experts say that temperatures in the mid-60s Fahrenheit create the best sleeping conditions.
You can also save by keeping your apartment a little cooler in the winter and a bit warmer in the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lowering the thermostats for just one degree for eight hours can save you 1 percent on your bill.
2. Turn it off
Energy Star estimates that leaving on a light bulb for eight hours a day costs almost $20 a year. When you consider all the light bulbs in an apartment (or even one room), it can really add up.
Turn off lights and fans when you leave a room to save a little money every day. Leave rarely used appliances off and unplugged until you need them.
3. Be smart with your TV
If you need an upgrade, look for an Energy Star TV, which can be up to 25 percent more efficient. Avoid streaming through a gaming console, as this uses more electricity than other options.
Digital media players like Roku and Apple TV are 15 times more efficient than streaming through a gaming system. Streaming on a laptop uses 4 times less energy.
4. Don’t make the refrigerator work too hard
To keep food cool, set your refrigerator temperature to 37 or 38 degrees and the freezer to 0. These settings keep food safe but also maximize energy efficiency.
Also, wipe down the coils underneath the fridge. If they’re covered in dust, the unit won’t cool as efficiently.
5. Minimize heat
Heating water uses a lot of energy, so lower the temperature on your water heater from the default (140 degrees Fahrenheit) to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This simple setting change can save up to 10 percent a year. Ask your landlord if your water heater isn’t easy to access.
In addition, work on minimizing hot water usage. Take shorter showers and wash clothes in cold or warm water. Select dishwasher settings that use less hot water and let the dishes air dry.
Air-dry clothing to save even more money. A fold-up clothing rack can be tucked into even the smallest spaces.
6. Swap out your light bulbs
Replacing a single incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star light bulb can save up to $55 a year. The bulbs cost more to buy, but they last 10 to 25 percent longer, so you’ll save in the long run.
Start saving on your average electric bill now
Estimating the average electrical bill can be a challenge at first. But once you understand how your apartment’s location matters and adjust your own energy use habits, you’ll be saving money in no time. With a focused effort, you could see results on next month’s bill.