Cold weather can be a real pain, especially when it comes to utility bills. Most apartment complexes require a minimum temperature to prevent building damages, such as burst pipes. Though this measure is understandable, it just means that you absolutely have to keep the heat on. As a result, winter tends to be the most expensive time of year for utilities. If you are apartment hunting and you have a set budget (which you should), you might want to investigate the average cost of heating during the cold winter months. That way, you can be sure to choose an apartment with rent low enough that you can afford to pay your bills.
What Kind of Heat?
Find out what kind of heating system your building uses. Old buildings tend to have radiator systems, which use hot water to warm the rooms. In this case, heating will be reflected in your water bill. Newer apartments use electricity or gas. Where your heating bill comes from all depends on the way the furnace works in your apartment building.
What’s Covered in Rent?
Every apartment complex and landlord has a preference for which utilities are included in the rent price. This can be determined by the way the building was designed. For example, apartments that have old radiator systems will generally include water in the rent price, as the whole building is on the same meter. The landlord wouldn’t be able to determine which tenant used how much water when the thermostat stayed constant throughout everyone’s apartments. However, most apartment buildings will require you to pay all of your utilities separately. Be sure to ask your landlord about this before signing a lease.
Talk to Neighbors
When you’re taking a tour of an apartment, stop by the neighbors’ places before you leave if possible. As they have already been living in the building, they’ll know how cold weather affects monthly heating bills. Be polite and explain that you’re looking to move in. Most people will be happy to help you. Plus, if you end up renting the place, you’ll have already met someone before you move in.
Look Up Stats Online
The Internet is full of statistics on different regions and neighborhoods. Find a reputable site that indexes categories like demographics, crime and weather. Some of these webpages will list average utility costs or support a forum where residents share their experiences. Another resource is the village, town or neighborhood website. Find the public works tab on the page and scrutinize it for details that may be useful. If you can’t find anything, shoot the department an email or give them a call.
Once you’re in your new apartment and cold weather comes, take steps to decrease the amount of energy and water you use. This will help decrease your monthly bills and mitigate the cost of heating. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs, turn lights off when not in use and shut off the faucet when you brush your teeth. These are just a few ideas to get you started. We’ve got plenty more.