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how to estimate utility costs when moving

Buying a new home is an exciting experience that brings plenty of opportunities and challenges. After paying expenses like a deposit, home inspection, closing costs and insurance, the last thing you want is the unpleasant surprise of bills that are higher than you expected.

One typical mistake new homeowners make is failing to factor in costs outside the home’s list price. While the for-sale sign may list a purchase price, that doesn’t factor in how much you’ll pay to keep your home comfortable, including utilities such as electricity, heat and water.

Luckily, estimating utility costs when you move into a new home doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Follow our guide below on calculating utility costs to learn more.

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Utilities Checklist

Before you can begin budgeting, figure out what utilities you’ll need in your new home. Consider the following top three expenses you’ll likely have to budget for:

  • Electricity: When moving into your new home, you’ll need to contact your local electricity company to have your service connected or transfer it to your name.
  • Gas: Many homes use natural gas for heating and cooking. If you have a gas water heater or other appliances, they won’t work without a connection to an energy provider.
  • Water/sewer: Humans can only survive about three days without drinking water. You’ll also need water to cook meals, do laundry and keep your home and family clean.

questions to ask when estimating new utility costs

Questions to Ask When Estimating Your New Utility Costs

Now that you know the necessary utility expenses to budget for when moving, you can start asking questions to figure out what you might expect to pay per month. Consider asking your real estate agent, who will most likely be able to either provide you with an answer or point you in the right direction.

May I See the Previous Utility Bills?

Once you’re ready to commit to a home purchase, ask your real estate agent for a record of utility costs over the past year. They can get this information from the seller or provide you with utility bills from a property that is similar to the one you’re interested in.

Will You Complete a HERS Evaluation?

One of the most enlightening methods to see how much your utilities might cost and how efficient they may be is to have a pre-purchase evaluation by a home energy auditor using the Home Energy Rating System index. This scoring system aims to identify any areas of trouble and provide you with opportunities to improve the home’s efficiency and decrease utility costs.

What Are the Average Costs in This Area?

Sometimes, knowing what other people in your area are paying can be beneficial when purchasing a home. Start by calling your local utility providers and asking them for the average costs in your ZIP code. Once you find this information, compare it to the utility bills you received from your real estate agent. Based on this information, identify if the home you are interested in is efficient or has room for improvement.

How Much Do Utilities Cost?

While the cost of utilities will differ based on several factors such as where you live, how much you use and your utility providers, understanding the average cost of these bills nationwide can help you determine what you might expect to spend per month.

Electricity

A fundamental utility within the home, electricity is more than keeping the lights on. Appliances such as your central air conditioning, clothes dryer, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator and television all run with the power of electricity. So how much can you expect to pay monthly in your electricity bill?

According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly 2020 electric bill in Pennsylvania was $114.90, while Maryland homeowners paid an average of $124.50 per month. Due to economic inflation, these numbers should keep rising with each passing year. Determining how to save money on your electricity costs will become crucial to staying comfortable year-round!

How to Save on Electricity Costs

Luckily, there are several easy, cost-effective ways to save on your monthly electricity bills. One quick solution is to unplug electronics and appliances when you’re not using them, which can save you between $100 and $200 per year. Additionally, replacing any old incandescent lightbulbs with energy-efficient alternatives like LEDs can save you around $215 per year and is as easy to do as changing a lightbulb!

For a more significant impact, consider large-scale investments such as installing solar panels, which will save you money in the long run and can also increase your home’s value. Additionally, replacing your electric water heater with a natural gas alternative is a fantastic way to save on your monthly bills and embrace a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Natural Gas

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for space heating and water heating. You may also have appliances like a stove, water heater or clothes dryer fueled by this affordable form of energy. In 2020, the average monthly gas bill in Pennsylvania was $73.14, while Maryland residents paid $73.95 per month, according to Statista.

How to Save on Natural Gas Costs

If you want to save on your natural gas expenses, it all begins with your furnace. Replacing your furnace’s air filter at least every three months is crucial to ensuring dust and accumulated debris don’t slow down the airflow throughout your home. The more clogged your filter becomes, the harder your furnace must work to heat your home, and the higher your gas bills will be.

Water/Sewer

Did you know that the average American family uses about 300 gallons of water a day? With the price of water rising each year, the average U.S. homeowner paid $70.39 per month in 2020. Conserving water can reduce your monthly costs and your home’s carbon footprint.

How to Save on Water and Sewer Costs

Lowering your water and sewer bills is often as simple as using less water. While you don’t have to decrease the amount of water you drink daily, find opportunities to take shorter showers and turn off the faucet when possible. For example, the average person wastes four gallons of water every time they leave the tap running when brushing their teeth. Being more conscious of your water use — and how much you waste — can help you save money and the environment over time.

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Estimate Utility Costs for a New Home

After reviewing our guide, you know more about how to estimate the cost of utilities when moving. Expect to pay an average of approximately $263 per month on electricity, natural gas and water.

With the right game plan going into the homebuying process, you can be fully aware of what your utility costs will be each month. Shop for current energy prices now with Shipley Energy. Contact us for more information or give us a call at 800-839-1849 to learn more!

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