Utilities, including electric, water, and potentially gas are a part of every apartment rental.
However, whether utilities “are included” or not included, does not mean an apartment is more or less expensive. Someone always has to pay for utilities — either you or the landlord.
Is It Cheaper When Utilities Are Included?
No, not necessarily. While it is helpful to know what line items you owe each month, having utilities included does not necessarily mean an apartment is going to be cheaper. It just means the utilities are built into the rent.
Apartments that include utility costs in the rent are typically older. Newer apartments often have the technology in place to determine how much of a specific utility each resident has used.
Give Me an Example
Apartment A: Rent $1,700 and includes all utilities.
Apartment B: Rent $1,500 but includes no utilities. You then have to pay for fixed rate utilities as follows electric ($100), gas ($50), water ($25).
Total rent plus utilities in Apartment B is $1,675.
Therefore, in this example, Apartment A – which includes all utilities..is not cheaper…but rather costs more than Apartment B.
Which Utilities Are the Most Common?
Regardless of who’s covering the cost, renters will need to ensure they have several utilities in place.
Virtually every apartment needs electricity to function properly. Electricity is what keeps the lights on, the food in the fridge cold, and runs other appliances like a microwave and dishwasher.
Water and Sewer
Water and sewer cover the cost of the water as well as processing waste. There is a distinction between hot water being included and water being included. Hot water refers to the energy cost of heating the water. You may have water included in your rent, but have to pay for the cost of hot water. Some apartments provide individual hot water heaters. In these apartments, the cost of hot water is generally paid by the tenant, but the tenant controls the use and therefore the cost to some extent.
Although some apartments use electricity for heat, hot water, and cooking, others use gas to keep residents warm (gas heating), provide hot water, and cooking (gas range).
Trash & Recycling
Most apartments include the cost of trash and recycling in their rental rates; however, some may include a surcharge for these services (often $10 to $25 per month).
Many tenants choose to live without a landline phone and instead rely on their cell phones at home, but in rare cases, a landline may be a necessary part of an apartment’s buzzer system.
Internet & TV
Usually, the internet and TV are only included in student or senior housing. Most of the time, you will need to purchase internet and TV separately. Call the registered Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up. This could be Comcast, Verizon, or others depending on where you live and what services are connected.
Also consider streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
If you are paying for utilities, consider how green or energy efficient the apartment is. Are there new windows? Is insulation good? What floor are you on? Is there a smart thermostat? What other energy-saving features are there?