What Utilities Do You Pay for in a House?

Utility costs are determined by usage.
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House utility expenses are based on a variety of factors, including the size and age of the property. Other variables depend on your usage -- for example, if you run the air conditioner all summer at a low setting, you’re going to incur a higher bill than someone who uses the AC sparingly. Likewise, energy-conscious homeowners who implement energy-savings plans are more likely to have lower utility bills. If you rent rather than own a house, a landlord might cover some of your utility costs. These are usually bills with amounts that don't vary, like trash pickup.

1 Water

Water utility charges are typically based on gallons used, and might include sewer charges as well. Numerous people sharing a house and taking regular showers and doing laundry can increase water bills. Other factors that impact the price for water include automatic sprinkler systems, swimming pools and water features like fountains and koi ponds. Water utility costs vary from one part of the country to another. For example, water rates in the desert are typically higher than those in the Midwest.

2 Electricity and Natural Gas

Power bills, for electricity and/or natural gas, are usually the biggest bills you'll have to pay for utilities. The price you pay for power is impacted by your use, or consumption, the size and age of the house and its energy-saving features. For example, a well-insulated home with energy-efficient appliances will cost less to heat and cool than a home that is not well insulated. Conducting regular self-audits of home energy use can help you determine where you can reduce energy usage and cut costs. Energy-smart appliances can reduce power bills, as can energy efficiency practices in the home.

3 Trash

Trash utilities are connected to waste and refuse removal. Trash typically covers garbage and recycling pickup. Prices can vary based on frequency of service. Rates are generally set by the city and often include access to a city dump for residents who need to dispose of items that are too large to be picked up during regular trash collection service.

4 Phone and Cable

Telephone and cable service are sometimes viewed as household utilities, as is Internet service. These utilities can sometimes be packaged or bundled, or they can be purchased separately. The price for these utilities is usually based on the specifics of the package options you buy as part of your contract agreement. Cell phone service is generally not considered a household utility expense.

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.