How do I compare rents w/ or w/o utilities included?
February 16, 2011 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to estimate the cost of utilities (heat, electricity) in a given city or region?

I know that these things vary considerably (size of apt., season, desired room temp.) but I am looking for an apartment in Hartford, CT and know that Connecticut has some of the highest energy costs in the US. Is there a way to estimate what my utilities may be?

I am trying to figure out a good way to compare different rent prices including offers that include utilities.

I want to be able to compare say, $800/mo plus utilities and $1050/mo utilities included.
posted by arveale to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
heating degree days (and cooling) stats are published for various locales wiki for heating days has links to published data at the bottom of the article.

That tells you, on very average with plenty of caveats, how hot/cold things will be. The example on the wiki article tells how to calculate kilowatt-hours to keep a building comfortable. (Again, caveats .. )..

DOE gives price data by state for power.. So from there, can figure out how much money it'll take to be warm/cool (assuming it's electric).

I think with additional searches, you can get an idea of oil/gas heating costs based on the heating degree days, though heating oil prices fluctuate..

(Or you can do what we did: We asked the previous owner for their past 12 months worth of utility bills - gas & electric)
posted by k5.user at 10:39 AM on February 16, 2011

Asking the previous owner/occupant is a good approach. You can also try contacting the utility and asking what their average residential bill is. That will include a huge range of dwelling sizes and usage patterns, of course - be sure to get the figures for energy consumption that result in the billed amount.
posted by nickmark at 10:56 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've also called the utility companies prior to moving and given them the address of the location of my new place. In both Washington state and Nevada, they were able to look up records and give me an idea of what the average bill has been, if not specifically for that address, at least for that neighborhood. Granted, I haven't done this in a few years, so YMMV.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2011

Definitely try and contact the utility or the previous renter/owner if at all possible. Or ask the landlord if they seem trustworthy. Two apartments, even similar in size, might have completely different heating costs, to the tune of $100+ a month. Type of heat makes a big difference - electric and oil are generally more expensive than gas, and an old, inefficient furnace can also make heating much more expensive - and insulation of walls, doors, and windows is also really important.
posted by mskyle at 1:11 PM on February 16, 2011

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