Apartment hunting can be fun. You get to visit all different kinds of units at different complexes, ultimately deciding which one you are going to call home. Everyone considers the upfront monthly rent before signing his or her apartment lease, but remember: there is more to the monthly cost than just the rent. Utilities are going to play a big part in what you pay every month.
If you consider an older apartment community instead of a newer one, don’t forget to ask about how the utilities are metered. Older buildings use one meter for electric and one meter for water, which means that the landlord might be allocating the costs based on the number of units and not the actual use. In this scenario, there is no incentive for a tenant to try to control utility costs; the costs will be skewed by other renters’ use.
However, new apartment communities have installed meters inside each unit, even one and two bedroom units. As a result, the tenant is only charged for the electric, gas, and water consumed in their apartment. This creates an opportunity for the tenant to save money on their monthly apartment utilities.
So once a renter is in a newer apartment with its own meter, how can they go about lowering monthly utility bills? Here are some ways to save money on utility expenses:
- Choosing a newer apartment community has other benefits, like better insulation with more efficient furnaces and air conditioners. Also ask about the policy for filter changes for the furnace and whether there is full time maintenance. Does the staff supply and change the filters on the recommended schedule?
- Take a look at the height of the ceilings. The higher the walls, the more space that you are heating and cooling to be comfortable. Luxury apartments sometimes feature 10-foot ceilings. They look great but have a lot more volume than the same size apartment with a 9-foot ceiling.
- An “affordable” apartment with old furnaces, no insulation, and poor windows can have a total cost that will be more than a “luxury” apartment’s monthly rent. Check the history of utilities bill before you rent.
- Windows matter. A single pane window is less than half the R Value of a double pane window. Older, single pane wood windows can leak a lot of air and let more noise penetrate the apartment than a new double pane vinyl window.
- Be sure to lower the thermostat when you leave your apartment and when you go to bed – it will create huge savings. Your pet will be perfectly fine at 67 degrees.
- Have a dripping faucet or running toilet? The landlord can easily fix these but the savings will be all yours.
- Everyone is going to pay for the internet every month. Ask about the providers for you community. Is ATT or Time Warner an option? Are you stuck with one provider? Does the landlord provide the internet access at a premium? Compare all of your options before you get stuck in a lease with high internet rates.
Remember that most apartments are advertised as “affordable” or “luxury” but with no mention of the utility costs for the unit. That’s why it is important to evaluate the utility characteristics of an apartment for yourself, as you are comparison-shopping for an apartment. It won’t take you more than three minutes and it will yield you a year’s worth of savings!