The cost of living in the United States has increased by a whopping 14% from 2015 to 2018.
What's more, the price of items that used to cost $20 in 1999 has gone up almost twice by June 2019.
Granted, inflation is the primary reason for all these increases. However, they also have to do with the convenience and tech innovations we now enjoy. There’s the Internet, for instance, which 9 in 10 Americans now have access to.
These all contribute to the ever-rising spending of households in the US. The question now is, how much is the average utility bill? Is there even anything you can do to bring it down?
That's exactly what you'll learn in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
What Is a Utility Bill?
A utility bill shows the total amount that a utility user needs to pay for the consumed utility. In a household, the utilities refer to any service that makes it livable. These include electricity, water, and fuel sources (such as heating oil).
Some services, like the telephone and the Internet, are more luxuries than necessities. However, most people now also consider them as a necessity, especially if they need it for work. In this case, both utilities also play a role in making a home livable.
Either way, you need to pay these utilities (usually every month) to ensure continuous use. As such, the utility provider sends you a bill that contains details about your use of the service. These include the amount you need to pay and the due date of your payment.
You need to pay these bills on or before their due date. Otherwise, the provider would disconnect or discontinue your service. In many cases, getting the service up and running again means paying what you owe, plus penalties or fines.
How Much Is the Average Utility Bill in the US?
According to one estimate, the average utility bill per month in the US is $398.24, or $4,778.88 a year. That already covers electricity, natural gas, water, cable TV, internet, and garbage-related services.
Keep in mind that this average accounts for the entire United States. Meaning, half of the states have lower average utility bills, while the rest pay more than $400 a month. Moreover, location is only one of the factors that affect the cost of your utilities.
Let’s take a closer look at the average bill per utility.
In 2018, the average monthly residential electricity bill in the US was $117.65. During this time, the average price of electricity was ¢12.87 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The average monthly consumption was 914 kWh.
In 2019, household water bills averaged $104 throughout the nation. While that's a lot lower than electric bills, it still represents more than a 30% increase from 2012.
Heating oil is a type of petroleum product mostly used as a fuel source in boilers and furnaces. In the US, 5.7 million households rely on heating oil during the winter season. These homes spent an average of $1,520 to heat their homes during the 2018 to 2019 heating season.
Telephone and Cellular Phone Service
In 2018, the average residential telephone bill per household amounted to $220. That's on top of the average $1,188 bill for cellular phone service.
On average, each US household pays $67 a month or $804 a year for their Internet service. They also pay between $420 and $720 a year for mobile internet service.
Cable or Pay TV
The average bill for Pay TV services, which include satellite coverage, was $107 a month or $1,284 a year in 2018. Note, however, that only 78% of US households subscribe to these services.
Digging Deeper: Possible Reasons for Higher-Than-Average Utility Bills
If you sum up all these utilities, you'll see how easy it is to spend $4,000 to $6,000 a year on them. Worse, it's possible that a considerable portion of your "use" actually goes to waste.
Here are a few things that could be making your utility bills higher than necessary.
Malfunctioning Household Equipment and Appliances
Your heater and air conditioner account for about 40% of your home's energy use. If you have an older HVAC unit, then it could be consuming even more energy. The same goes for improperly-maintained and faulty equipment.
That said, the upkeep of your HVAC system and appliances can make them more energy efficient. They won't have to work harder, so they'll demand less power. The less the power they use, the lower your energy or electricity bills.
The simplest thing you can do for your HVAC system is to change or wash its filters regularly. When you let these filters get too dirty, they can cause clogs which can then restrict the flow of air. This will then put additional stress on the system and cause it to consume even more energy.
Appliances on Standby Mode
Appliances and electronics that are on "standby" mode still suck up energy even when not in use. That's why many people refer to them as "energy vampires". A few examples are televisions, gaming consoles, computers, microwave ovens, and coffee makers.
Make it a habit to unplug these devices if you won't use them in the next hour or so. If you usually use these together, plug them into an energy-efficient power strip. This way, you can also turn them off in one go by unplugging just the strip itself.
Old or Worn Insulation
Damaged or worn insulation allows more heat to escape or enter your home. These heat gains and losses put more stress on your HVAC unit to work harder. So, not only do bad insulation make you feel uncomfortable -- it also raises your energy bills.
To avoid these costly issues, consider swapping your old insulation with high-quality replacements. You can find industry-standard insulation materials online, such as through ReduceMyEnergy.com.
Air leaks occur when heated or cooled air leaves your home through cracks and gaps. Air leakage also happens when outdoor air enters your home through the same holes. Either way, they both result in wasted energy and reduced indoor comfort.
In addition, these leaks can increase your home's indoor moisture level. When this happens, you're at greater risk of experiencing mold and mildew problems. Not only are these unsightly "plant" growths -- their spores can also cause health problems.
To avoid all these side effects of air leaks, you first need to figure out where the leaks are. Old windows, uninsulated pipes, chimneys, and flues are among the most common spots. The area around wirings and cables can also be letting outdoor air into your home.
From here, you can then apply either weatherstripping, caulking, or insulation. These are effective air-sealing methods that can help you take control of air leaks. Best of all, they involve simple steps, so they make for great DIY home improvement projects.
Within one year, a faucet that leaks 10 drips of water per minute would have wasted 347 gallons of water. That's water that literally went down the drain -- along with the hard-earned money you paid for it.
There's no doubt about it -- plumbing leaks are huge money-wasters. In fact, the above is a conservative figure, as the average US home actually leaks up to 10,000 gallons of water a year.
That said, it's best that you get those leaky faucets and toilets fixed as soon as possible. You should also regularly check your plumbing system for potential "hidden" leaks.
One way to do this is by shutting off all water fixtures and then checking your water meter. If there's no leak, the needle/digital numbers in the meter should not move. If there's a leak, then that needle or counter will continue to move.
Since the source of the leak can be underground, you should contact a licensed plumber.
Hard water rarely causes health issues, but it can be contributing to your high utility bills. One way is by forming scaling on your water-using devices.
Hard water contains high levels of mineral particles like calcium carbonate. These minerals can settle on the bottom of your water heater or coffee maker. Over time, these minerals will turn hard and reduce the efficiency of your appliances.
If your home gets supplied with hard water, consider investing in a water softener. This helps reduce the water's mineral content, which then helps prevent scaling. Plus, water softeners can make your water taste cleaner and better.
Bring Down Your Sky-High Utility Bills Now
There you have it, the complete guide to answering your question, “how much is the average utility bill in the US?” Now that you know just how high it could be, it’s best that you start planning where to cut back. Energy-efficiency improvements are a good place to start for a healthier, greener home.
Looking for more tips on how to have healthier finances? Then be sure to check out the rest of the posts we have under our site’s For the Home section! Don’t forget to bookmark our site too, while you’re at it!