Profile picture for samkcollege

1st time homebuyer. What should i expect my utilities to run?

It is a 1740 sq ft house in longview tx. No gas all electric built 2006 and i am a single guy no kids that works 50- 60+ hours a week, so minimum use on weekdays.Curious about electric and or water bill cost. Thanks a lot.
  • December 26 2013 - Longview
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Answers (11)

It will depend on several factors: how much your usage is, the location, the size of the household, the time of the year... just to name a few. The best thing to do is ask the seller to provide you with an average for the past 12 months. It is very easy for the seller to get that report online.

  • December 27 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
Water costs (for first tier) is typically about $1.50 per hundred cubic feet (746 gallons) and is sold in hundred cubic feet (HCF)  That is about 1.5 cents per cubit foot, or about 5 gallons for a penny.

On top of that, you need to add the monthly meter charge.  That typically runs about $12 per month, but varies based on service size (5/8", 3/4", 1" ...)

A low water usage toilet may use as little as 1 gallon per flush.  1.5 gallons may be a bit more typical.  Probably closer to 2 gallons for "standard".  Major water usage tends to be the lawn or "yard", but you may be able to divert tub or shower water for re-use, or you can revert to natural vegetation.  Other than the toilet, you don't tend to "save water" by not being home.

Most shower heads have the flow rate limited to 3 gallons per minute.  Only you determine how many showers per week, and how many minutes per shower, and if you will use the bath, and how full you will fill it, and how often you will fill it.
  • December 27 2013
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In our market area, you can call the utility companies directly to get this information.  Or the seller's agent should be able to provide this information to you. 
  • December 27 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
From the Government Climate Data website:
http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/CDODivisionalSelect.jsp

For the State of Texas, for the past 12 months, the cooling and heating degree days, with a "base outdoor temperature" of 65°F  (no heating or cooling required) was:

Month    CDD    HDD
Dec        22        358
Jan        19        455
Feb        27        311
March    40        252
April       77         97
May     259           6
June     519          0
July      546          0
Aug      602          0
Sept     459          0
Oct      167         48
Nov        19       309

For some discussion on the use of degree days for energy calculations and possible problems (well insulated buildings...), see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heating_degree_day
  • December 27 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
I forgot to mention, when it comes to heating, a Therm is a Therm, even though different heating methods can have substantially different efficiencies.  (Heat pumps tend to be substantially more efficient; fire-places with large flues tend to be inefficient, especially if one does not close it when not in use).  A Therm is 100k BTU (British Thermal Units), approximately the energy produced by burning 100 CuFt of Natural Gas, also written 1 CCF.  (The first C being a Roman Numeral C meaning "100").

A BTU is the energy required to heat 1 pound of liquid water by 1°F at 1 atmosphere pressure (ie: at sea level, not during storm conditions).

1 Watt is 3.41214 BTU/hour.  Or put another way, a Therm is 29.3071 Killowatt Hours.  At 10 cents per KWhr, that comes to about $2.93 per Therm.  Natural gas runs about $1 per 100 Cuft, so electricity is about 3 times the cost per therm, but one would also have to add the meter charge for the gas, and one also has the losses from the required venting.

Cooling is also measured in BTU per hour, or in "Tons".  A Ton of cooling is 12k BTU/hr.  A ton is the energy to convert 2k pounds of water to ice in 24 hours, or the cooling produced when 2k pounds of ice at 0°C (32°F) melts over 24 hours.

Cooling is a lot less efficient than heating.  Remember that heat has to be put somewhere, and that the motors and other electrical equipment used produces waste heat.  Single phase motors are also a lot less efficient than 3 phase motors, and residential electrical services are all single phase, unless an exceptionally large house.  For a 10 ton 3-phase Heat pump, the maximum electrical energy is about 20.8 KWhr each hour, or about $2.08 to operate for an hour, or about $0.21 per ton of cooling per hour.   For single phase service, assume 3.517 KWhr for 12k BTU of cooling, or about $0.35 per ton of cooling per hour.
  • December 27 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
You can have any electric bill you want; it is all a choice of what electric appliances you chose to use and how often.  Yes, you still will need to pay a meter service charge even if you use no electricity.

For a "ball park" you can figure about 10 cents per Killowatt hour.  With transmission charges... it may be slightly higher, especially during summer peak periods, but it should be a good starting point.  So, $0.10 for every 10 hours of burning a 100 watt light bulb.  $0.15 for every hour of running a small space heater.  $0.18 for an hour of running a small window air conditioner.  $0.20 every time your water heater has to reheat the water.  $0.07 for each time you use one of the burners on the stove.  $0.20 for using the oven for an hour.  $0.01 for using the microwave oven for 5 minutes.  $0.06 for using the computer for an hour.  $0.03 for using the television for an hour.  $0.60 to run the refrigerator for an day, assuming the door is left closed and a reasonably efficient model and moderate size.  $0.05 for an electric blanket all night.  For larger heaters and larger air conditioners, look at the name plate data, or just multiply the window/room sized units for the total number of rooms you will be heating or cooling.  Make sure you add in all those miscellaneous chargers you keep plugged in.  Also consider vacuum cleaners, saws, electric drills, Electric cars, fans...

Remember in Texas, you will likely want to run your air conditioner a lot during the summer, and you may want to run your heater a lot at night during the winter.  But no-one will force you to.

Personally, I think $70 per month in Texas is on the low side considering the typical desired heating and cooling degree days.  You can look up degree heating and degree cooling days on several web sites.
  • December 26 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Why do you question the $70?  

Perhaps it is time to make friends with neighbors, a bit of  beer/pizza perhaps, and ask them what their utility bills are.

  • December 26 2013
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Profile picture for samkcollege
ok guys just called electric company and they cannot give it to me until I am putting it in my name and still have over a month until closing. I asked the listing agent and she said $70. That seems like a load of b.s. to me.
  • December 26 2013
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Have you agent contact the listing agent to get utility averages.  You may also be able to call the electric and water company yourself.  Some cities/states will give you the average over a 12 month period but no each month individually.
  • December 26 2013
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Your agent can get you some of that information to save you time. Most listing agents have already checked that because that's one of the top questions we get. If they don't have it, they can get it. Some utility companies will let you check this on line with just the address. That might be a good place to start.
  • December 26 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Have you tried calling the utility company?    Have you asked the listing agent for utility bills from the last year?

  • December 26 2013
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