Michael Hochman
radiator

For someone looking for a cheap and easy living situation, studio apartments are a great alternative. If you don't spend a lot of time at home and don't have a lot of stuff, studio apartments offer a reasonable place to live at a reasonable price to crash, eat simple meals and get ready in the morning, especially for singles and students.

Aside from the lower rent, studio apartments can be more affordable with lower utility costs, as well. But how much do you actually save? How much is electricity for a studio apartment? How much is heating and cooling? What's the difference in other utilities?

While studio apartments are technically any apartment with a single room (plus bathroom and kitchenette), they can vary from the smallest of living spaces to convertible studios to giant loft apartments. For our purposes, a studio apartment is the standard plan type, which in the U.S. averages between about 500 and 600 square feet.

Heating

If your apartment has building-wide radiator heating, consider yourself lucky. In most circumstances, your cost for this will be zero as it will be part of your rent.

If you have forced-air heating from an electric furnace or hot water boiler, that will be a big chunk of your electric bill during winter months if you live in a colder climate.

Fortunately, it won't take as much to heat your small space. Depending on how cold it is outside and how well insulated your apartment is, in a space this small, an average of about $50 per month of your electricity bill will come from winter heating.

Not many studio apartments are heated by gas heat, even if your cook top is. While gas heat can be more efficient, the savings at this scale are negligible. You'll still pay about $50 per winter month for heating, it will just come from a different bill.

Air Conditioning

In most of the U.S., air conditioning is only used between three and five months a year. And even then, with the exception of major heat waves, you can choose to not use AC at all and move the air in your apartment with a fan. In a studio apartment, you can really cool down your entire place with one oscillating table fan.

But if you do choose to use your air conditioning, it's either coming from a forced-air unit (central air) or a window unit. Both use electricity to run. The average cost of running an air conditioner in a typical house is about about $120 a month. For the size of a studio, imagine about a third or fourth of that, say around $30-40 per month added to your electric bill during the summer with central forced air.

Window and wall AC units make a lot of noise and blow a lot of air, both of which take a lot of electricity (and often isn't well insulated). When it all shakes out, a window unit will cost close to the same as central air. For your room size, figure about $30-40 per month in the summer, as well.

If you're fortunate enough to have a ceiling fan in your studio, your cooling costs will go way, way down. And for those in a warm climate, your savings in heating will probably be offset by your cost in cooling.

Electricity

Aside from the costs of heating and cooling, you'll also probably use less electricity in a studio apartment simply due to having fewer electronic items in use. You have fewer lights, most likely only one television and smaller appliances in an efficiency kitchen.

Depending on your personal use, how energy efficient your lights and appliances are and how careful you are about turning them off when not in use, your electricity bill can vary, but not too widely. Some estimates of a typical apartment average (without heating and cooling) around $65. With the smaller footprint of a studio, it may be even cheaper.

Internet, cable, water and more

For nearly all other utilities, you're going to pay the same amount regardless of how big or small your apartment.

Whether you're in a spacey two-bedroom or in your studio, you'll probably have one shower, one bathroom sink and one kitchen sink. Depending how long you take in the shower and if you have a dishwasher, an average monthly apartment water bill is around $40.

Similarly, you'll have one internet provider and one television requiring cable service (and possibly one landline connection). Depending on if you have basic cable and an average internet speed or all the premium channels and high-speed internet packages, the average cable and internet bundle bill can come in around $100-$150 per month.

Even if you've cut the cable cord, the cost of internet plus Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now are going to run you about the same (unless you're borrowing all the passwords from friends).

There are also several other utilities that contribute to your overall monthly budget. Cooking gas, if you have it, can be around $10 a month. Trash and recycling, if you pay for it, can run around $10 monthly. And depending on your building, items like sewer and parking can add to your final tab.

Varied costs by geography

The total cost of utilities for an apartment can vary widely by what you have and what you use. Heating and cooling can fluctuate depending on your latitude. Your cable and internet can differ greatly depending on how much TV you want to watch. A simple thing like switching out incandescent bulbs for LEDs can lower your electric bill.

And of course, a major factor is cost of living in different cities. The average utility bill for any sized apartment in Dallas is $139.29, while in Philly it's $150.06, so the best thing to do is research in your area.

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About The Author

Michael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. His work has been featured in nexxt.com, Ale Street News and Radio TV Interview Report Magazine. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.

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