reeatlarge asks: I’m going to be moving into my first apartment soon and feel like I did a pretty good job. I shopped around, I read all the fine print, I tested all the faucets and electrical outlets, I even negotiated a cheaper lease! But I’m totally clueless as to how utilities work. My landlord pays water, sewer, and garbage pickup; I am responsible for hot water, heat, and electricity. How many different bills will I end up paying? Is the heat coming from a gas company? Can I email my landlord and ask for a list of utility companies they suggest? And why is hot water separate from cold water?!
Hello! So first off, yes, go ahead and ask your landlord how many bills there are. That is not a big deal or stupid question.
I could be wrong, but I’m guessing you’ll just have one; all those things (heat/hot water/electricity) will likely show up on your electricity bill. You aren’t being billed for hot water; you’re being billed for the energy to heat the water.
You don’t mention natural gas — do you have a gas stove? If so, you probably also have a gas furnace and water heater. In some places, gas and electricity are provided by different companies which means two bills; in other places, both will be on one bill.
It’s also possible (but unlikely) that you have an oil furnace, in which case you buy the oil all at once instead of paying monthly.
Chances are that you won’t really have much choice in, say, electricity and gas companies, but go ahead and see what your landlord recommends. Your city’s municipal website should have a list of utility companies and their contacts.
For everyone else moving into an apartment for the first time, here are the bills you can expect. Before you sign a lease, make sure it’s very clear which you will pay and which your landlord pays, and ask if they know what these average to each month:
• Water/Sewer (nearly always billed together)
• Gas, if applicable and not billed with electric
• Cable/internet/landline phone (optional, obviously)
When you’re ready to set everything up, go get an accordion folder with one tab for each utility. Many utilities can be set up online; again, your city’s website should have that information. And remember, if you’re just moving across town, it’s usually pretty easy to just transfer your service, which lets you skip paying a deposit.
Anything I’m missing?