# How to Estimate the Cost of Utilities

## Utilities Cost Calculators

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For trash pickup, you'll have an exact number: Either your landlord is paying it; you're paying it and the amount is stated in your lease (for renters); or you're paying it and you know the price because you set up the service yourself.

The same goes for phone, cable and Internet.

Energy use is a different story.

If you live in a small apartment and use about 550 kW/h per month, which is about average, and you're paying about \$0.10 per kW/h, again the average, you'll receive a bill each month for \$55. Easy enough. But how do you know how many kW/h you're going to use?

To get a nice big picture of your electricity expenses, you can turn to any number of calculators on the Internet, provided by power companies, government agencies, energy-efficiency organizations and apartment rental Web sites.

You'll find energy-use calculators that ask some questions about appliances, lights and heating and cooling in order to give you a number, either in kW/h or in dollars. You can also use many of these to find out your local kW/h rate and to calculate how much you'd save by altering your energy habits. For example:

And then there are the overall budgeting calculators that will ask about everything -- phone, trash pick-up, water, student-loan payments, electricity -- to help you get an overall picture of your expenses. You'll find a few of these here:

Most experts say you should spend no more than 40 percent of your income on housing, and that includes utilities. Calculators are a great way to estimate this cost, but other, still simpler options may be available to you. You could ask your landlord, a previous tenant or homeowner, or find estimates online for the specific apartment community you're considering. These approaches may be somewhat less precise than individualized calculations, but they can give you a quick answer as to whether you're coming in below the 40-percent threshold, so at least you know if you're on the right track.

### Sources

• Creating an Apartment Utilities Budget. Apartment Guide.http://moving.apartmentguide.com/setting-up-utilities/creating-an-apartment-utilities-budget/
• Energy Use In Homes. CPS Energy.http://cpsenergy.apogee.net/res/refuih.asp
• Estimating How Much Apartment Utilities Will Costhttp://moving.apartmentguide.com/setting-up-utilities/estimating-how-much-apartment-utilities-will-cost/