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How Much Does the Average Utility Bill Cost for Renters?

September 26, 2023
Maybe you suspect you’re paying too much for utilities — or maybe you’re new to renting. Learn what the average utility bill costs and how it can vary.

According to 2021 census data analyzed by Apartment List's expert team of researchers, the average utility bill for Americans is around $253.14 every month.

However, your average utility bill is completely dependent on the size and age of your home, your usage, and your environment. Knowing how much your utilities will cost you before you make the move somewhere will help you budget better. If you’re planning on moving soon and want to get a better idea of what your utility bills will look like, come dive in as we explore everything you need to know about the cost of utilities.

Understanding Utility Costs

Average Household Utility Costs by State

The most expensive state for utilities is Alabama at $191.27 and the most affordable state for utilities is New Mexico at $103.40.

Wondering how much the average utility bill is in your state? Use the map below to find out.

Average Household Utility Costs by City

Knowing what to expect from utility costs for your city can help you build a more accurate budget. Moreover, if you're a frugal renter, you'll want to ensure that you're choosing a city with low average utility costs.

You’re likely wondering...

The most expensive city for utilities is Bridgeport, CT at $353.57. The most affordable city for utilities is Boise City, ID at $186.55.

Browse through the table below to see how the city you’re living in or considering moving to ranks!

CitiesAverage Electricity BillAverage Gas BillAverage Water BillAverage Fuel BillAverage Utility Bill
Bridgeport, CT$184.97$74.44$35.59$58.58$353.57
New Haven, CT$166.38$66.12$36.59$42.53$311.62
Boston, MA$135.20$81.67$46.58$32.78$296.22
Stockton, CA$161.80$64.37$68.82$1.12$296.10
Birmingham, AL$196.29$45.92$51.46$0.76$294.43
Worcester, MA-CT$153.43$50.31$32.70$55.19$291.63
Hartford, CT$149.79$58.32$32.99$48.91$290.01
Scranton, PA$125.38$76.32$52.93$25.62$280.24
Kansas City, MO$157.53$67.30$52.76$1.54$279.12
Providence, RI$130.38$75.34$39.07$33.26$278.06

Average Utility Cost by Bedroom

The size of the unit you are renting can have a big impact on your utility bills, especially for heating, cooling, and electricity. Discover what utilities cost on average for studios up to 4-bedroom apartments.

How Much Are Utilities for a Studio Apartment?

According to 2021 census data, studio apartments averaged $127.13 per month for utilities. Specifically, the average tenant spent $88.72 on electric, $17.14 on gas, $20.31 on water, and $0.97 on other fuel sources.

How Much Are Utilities for a 1-Bedroom Apartment?

Tenants in 1-bedroom apartments spend an average of $133.04 on utilities per month. By utility type, they spend $89.76 on electricity, $19.71 on gas, $22.12 on water, and $1.45 on other fuel sources.

How Much Are Utilities for a 2-Bedroom Apartment?

If you live in a 2-Bedroom apartment, you can expect to pay an average of $201.93 per month for utilities. That comes down to an average of $123.33 on electric, $38.11 on gas, $36.64 on water, and $3.85 on other fuel sources.

How Much Are Utilities for a 3-Bedroom Apartment?

If your apartment has 3 bedrooms, utilities will cost you an average of $265.86 per month. By utility type, expect an average of $158.70 on electricity, $54.34 on gas, $46.24 on water, and $6.58 on fuel.

What Utilities Am I Responsible for?

Hopefully you asked this question when touring your new home and before signing the lease. In some apartments, your landlord will cover all of your utilities. In most cases, you will be responsible for a portion of your utilities. It is common for a landlord to cover the cost of water, garbage and sewage. If you will be covering the cost of these utilities, expect to pay around $40 for water and $20 for garbage and sewage.

Beyond these utilities, you’ll likely be responsible for paying for electricity, gas, heating, internet and cable.

Electricity

Plan on your electricity being the largest portion of your utility bills. It’s also probably the most necessary. When considering how much your electricity bill will cost, consider the size of your apartment and the number of tenants living there. One person living in a studio will use a lot less energy than a family of four living in a two bedroom apartment.

The average electricity bill in the US costs $150.93, but a typical range could be anywhere from $103-$191 a month depending on the state you live in. To save on this bill, invest in energy-efficient products, like energy star labeled appliances or LED light bulbs. For more tips, check out this guide on how to save on you utility bills.

Air Conditioning

If you live in a hot city like Phoenix or Las Vegas, hopefully you have air conditioning set up in your apartment. Depending on the climate of where you live, running A/C might be necessary. If you live in a cooler neck of the woods, you’re in luck, because A/C is expensive. Running your A/C throughout the month tends to add on an additional $60-$70 to your electricity bill.

Gas

Living in a cold city like Rochester that’s going to require a ton of heating during the winter? That’s where your gas bill starts to add up. Heaters powered by gas running throughout the month can cost up to $50 if they are efficient appliances. Heaters powered by electricity will cost a bit more. Other gas appliances, like a gas range stovetop, are cheap. These typically will only be like $10, and that’s if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Water

The mean water bill for all renters is $45.52. However, realistically, the average monthly water bill can range from $28.24 for a single adult to $116 for a family household.

However, some states, like California, have strict laws that regulate water usage and may levy fines if regulations aren't followed.

If possible, opt for an apartment unit with a dishwasher, eco-friendly washers, and regulated water pressure. These measures will keep your water bill low!

Other Average Utility Bills by Type

The average utility bill for a typical renter household will cost approximately $253.14 just for basic utilities, but that might not be the end of your obligation. Here are some other utilities bills you might end up paying as a renter.

Internet and Cable

Internet is pretty much a necessity at this point… but cable not so much. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are taking the place of traditional cable in many homes. The internet bill will vary depending on the speed you need. If you hardly use the internet at all, you can get away with the lowest plan. If you are a power user, you might need a top tier plan. For the average consumer who uses middle-tier plans, expect to pay around $30-$60 a month for internet.

If you want cable to watch your favorite award shows and sporting events live, most companies will have a bundle deal for cable and internet. Bundling cable with your internet will cost an estimated additional $20-$40, depending on your provider.

Phone

The average cell phone bill is $94 for a single person. However, phone plan costs vary based on your carrier.

Here are the lowest cost unlimited plans for a single cell phone line of the most popular cell service providers in the US:

  • Verizon: $70
  • AT&T: $65
  • T-Mobile/Sprint:$60

That said, this cost generally doesn't reflect sales tax, fees, and the cost of leasing a cell phone, which can add upwards of $50 to your bill.

If you're looking to save on your cell phone bill, check out low cost providers such as Mint, Google Fi, or Visible.

Garbage

Garbage collection costs are hard to pin down, as they vary so greatly. Typically, the cost of garbage collection is included in the cost of rent.

If your municipality or apartment unit doesn't provide garbage collection services, you will need to arrange for your own collection. It's best to shop around if you are in the market for private garbage collection.

Each service provider can set their own rates, so you might find wildly different prices during your search.

How to Save Money on Utilities

save money on utilities

If you want to lower your average monthly expenses, consider your usage and unique actions you can take to stay within your budget. Let’s look at a few ways in which you can save money on your apartment utilities.

Appliances

When it comes to saving money on your utilities each month, the first thing you need to look at is your appliances. If you can afford to buy new energy-efficient appliances, look for those that sport Energy Star labels, as these labels signify top-tier energy efficiency. Beyond purchasing new appliances, here are a few things you can do to cut your costs throughout the year:

  • Use Correct-Sized Appliances: Don’t use appliances that are oversized for your needs, as they consume extra energy unnecessarily.
  • Perform Regular Maintenance: Keeping your appliances clean and well-maintained will help them work at peak efficiency.
  • Use Appliances Wisely: For example, consider only using your washing machine or dishwasher when they’re running full loads.
  • Unplug Appliances When Not in Use: Unplug appliances when you aren’t using them or use smart plugs to cut the power supply when they’re not in use.
  • Use Timers or Delay Start: For example, set your washing machine or dishwasher to run during off-peak hours or set heaters and air conditioners on timers to limit how long they stay on.

Find out more about how to save money on utilities with appliances.

Lighting

The cost of electricity in your home can have a lot to do with your lighting choices. Let’s look at a few ways you can lower your average electric bill with better lighting choices and habits:

  • Switch to LED Bulbs: Replace your compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) or incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, as they use far less energy.
  • Install Motion Sensors: Use motion-sensor lighting in low-traffic spaces like closets, hallways, or outdoor areas to turn on and off lights automatically as needed.
  • Install Dimmer Switches: Dimmer switches can help you adjust the brightness of your lights based on your needs and reduce unnecessary usage.
  • Make Use of Natural Light: Open curtains and blinds during the day to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Check out our lighting article to see how you can get creative with lighting options in your apartment.

Windows

If you’re renting a place, making big changes to the windows probably isn’t possible. However, there are a few things you can still do to make the most of the current windows you have and lower your electricity consumption.

  • Seal Gaps and Cracks: Use temporary caulk or weatherstripping to seal gaps, cracks, or openings in your windows where air can enter and escape.
  • Install Window Treatments: Install energy-efficient window treatments like insulated blinds, cellular shades, or thermal curtains to regulate indoor temperatures.
  • Use Natural Ventilation: When the weather is nice, turn off the air conditioner and open windows to allow for natural airflow.
  • Install Window Shadings: Install outdoor window shading devices like pergolas or awnings to block your home from sunlight during hot days.

You can even ask your landlord about the possibility of updating your old windows to newer energy-efficient windows to cut costs in the long term.

Internet

At this point, high-speed internet plans are relatively affordable, so if you find yourself using the internet a lot at home — whether you’re working from home or streaming — we recommend regularly checking for different plans available in your area.

Compare prices, speeds, and contract terms of the best providers to find the right deal for your needs. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your current internet service provider (ISP) to see if you can negotiate a lower monthly rate or better terms. Many of these providers offer discounts and promotional rates.

Water

Beyond purchasing high-efficiency appliances, you can minimize your water bill average in a few other easy ways.

  • Fix Leaks Quickly: If you notice a leak in your pipes, faucets, or toilets, get ahold of your landlord immediately to get it fixed.
  • Update With Low-Flow Fixtures: Speak with your landlord about updating old faucets or showerheads with low-flow fixtures.
  • Take Shorter Showers: Though it may seem obvious, being aware of your shower times can save you a significant amount of money in the end.
  • Water Your Plants Wisely: Water your plants either late in the evening or early in the morning when it’s cooler.

We also recommend reviewing your water bills closely each month to look for any sudden spikes that could indicate leaks or other issues.

Final Thoughts on Utility Costs

As you can see, the average cost of utilities is nowhere near as transparent as the average rent, and there are many variables that affect the total cost. When you find your dream rental, you can use a handy utilities calculator to get a better idea of what you can expect to pay, then use the tips above to reduce your monthly payments.

Ready to find your dream apartment? Get started by taking the Apartment List quiz. With Apartment List, you’ll spend 5 minutes and save 50 hours searching.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Justin Chaplin
AUTHOR
Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
Davina Ward
DAVINA WARD
Davina G. Ward is an esteemed journalist and expert on the apartment rental market. Read More
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