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How do I Estimate an Apartment Electric Bill?

By Jeany Miller
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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The cost to rent or purchase an apartment often includes more than mere rent, and many tenants also need to budget for such expenses as gas and electricity. An apartment electric bill can likely be estimated using one or a combination of measures. The electric company often maintains information concerning previous electricity usage for a defined time period and may also answer questions about billing cycles and meter readings. The apartment manager and neighboring tenants may provide additional estimates based on their own knowledge of average electricity costs. Specific knowledge of appliances and how their usage influences a bill may offer additional insight into average costs.

Several methods may be available to estimate an apartment electric bill when moving to a new residence or trying to develop a monthly budget. In the case of moving, the electric company may be able to provide data concerning the previous tenant’s electricity usage and subsequent bills. If the company is unable to provide specific information, they may instead offer a logical monthly estimate based on the previous 12-month period. While each person tends to use and conserve electricity differently, this information may still depict a reasonable estimate.

New tenants may need to obtain additional information from the electric company as well. It is important, for example, to know if the company routinely estimates bills or actually reads electric meters. The tenant may also need to know the approximate age of the meter and if it has been inspected recently for proper functioning. In addition, while many companies bill for 30-day cycles, some may bill for more or fewer days. These factors are likely to influence a bill above and beyond electricity usage.

When developing a budget rather than moving, a tenant may also speak with the electricity company and ask about his or her monthly costs. Some companies print electricity usage and cost per unit, such as the kilowatt hour, on each monthly bill. If available, tenants can use this information to understand their individual habits, compare them to previous bills and determine if new measures need to be taken to reduce utility costs. If that information is not printed on the bill, the electricity provider will likely discuss previous electricity spikes and usage fluctuations. The electric company may also be a resource for understanding an inexplicably high electric bill and learning new ways to reduce consumption.

The apartment manager may be able to provide similar information concerning the average cost of electricity around the complex. He or she may live on-site and offer personal bills as examples, or his or her job functions may include tracking utilities for each apartment. In addition to discussing the actual apartment electric bill, the manager may also have information pertaining to the appliances and insulation. When high-efficiency items are in-place, and if insulation is used efficiently, electric costs may be positively influenced.

Neighboring apartment residents are also likely to know monthly electricity costs and how those vary throughout the year. In addition, local consumer advocacy groups may provide the names of several retail electric providers with varying rates. The provider, which often delivers electricity to the utility company, is usually a separate and distinct entity. For tenants, this may mean the opportunity to comparison shop and garner the most affordable unit rate.

To accurately estimate an apartment electric bill, tenants often need to understand the ways in which appliances use electricity. In many cases, those items that require the most electricity include central air conditioners, electric furnaces and refrigerators. A tenant may therefore want to consider easy and effective ways that will lower an electric bill. A space heater in the bedroom, for example, may be more efficient than running an electric furnace throughout the night. Similarly, using ceiling fans in the summer, replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescents and drying clothes on a laundry rack may lead to additional savings.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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