Apartment living provides certain benefits that home ownership doesn't, such as built-in maintenance services and relatively low expenses. Yet depending on how you consume energy in your apartment, your utility bill may negate the cost benefits of renting. Comparing your utility bill to the average can help you determine whether to reduce your usage.
WhiteFence estimates that as of June 2011, the average home pays almost $250 in utility costs per month. No agency provides energy usage or utility cost data based on the type of dwelling, but since apartments are often smaller than houses, the average utility bill for an apartment may be lower. Several factors can determine this.
The size of a home is a large factor in how much energy it consumes. A five-bedroom house, for example, can accommodate more people than a one-bedroom apartment, which can mean more appliances and water use. A larger space also means more air to heat and cool, which can also raise a utility bill. Regardless of the size of a home, air leaks can decrease the effectiveness of its heating and cooling system, resulting in higher costs.
Changing Your Habits
You can lower your utility bill by making conscious decisions about how you use energy in your apartment. Replacing your conventional incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lights can reduce your costs by more than $40 per year, according to Energy Star. Though CFLs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, you should still turn off the light when you leave a room to save even more on your bill.
Plug appliances such as televisions and computers into power strips, and turn those power strips off when you're finished using the appliances. Since appliances use more than one-quarter of the energy in the typical home, this alone can make a big difference.
Water is considerably less expensive than other utilities, but every bit counts. Take shorter showers, only run your dishwasher when it's full and avoid using your toilet as a trash can. For instance, don't flush the toilet simply to dispose of a tissue since this wastes as many as four gallons of water, or $90 per year.
As a renter, you face certain limitations when it comes to home repairs even if they make your apartment more energy efficient. Caulking, for instance, is a standard for air sealing, but if you apply it improperly, you could damage the property. Ask maintenance to seal air leaks around your doors and windows to avoid liability.
- White Fence Index: Compare Utility and Essential Home Services Prices Among Top U.S. Cities
- U.S. Energy Information Administration; Energy Use in Homes; February 2010
- Energy Star: Light Bulbs (CFLs)
- U.S. Department of Energy; How Compact Fluorescents Compare with Incandescents; February 2011
- U.S. Department of Energy; Air Sealing an Existing Home; February 2011