Cool air, lights, water, garbage collection, cable and internet may seem like basic human rights, but it may come as a surprise that these “simple luxuries” aren’t simple to set up or pay for. Here’s how to make sure you have everything you need (and nothing you don’t) and how to save a little dough along the way.
Valley residents can get Wi-Fi set up at their home or apartment for about $10 to $50 per month. Cable or satellite TV can run from as little as $25 to as much as $150. However, you may want to opt out of cable to cut costs and instead invest in a Netflix, Hulu or HBO GO account.
If you live in an apartment complex, a flat fee will likely be tacked onto your monthly rent and utilities expenses. If you live in a house, weekly trash and recycling pickup is roughly $20 a month. Visit phoenix.gov/garbage to find out when “Trash Day” is where you live.
Most modern apartments use electricity instead of gas, but older homes use gas to run appliances such as dryers and heating systems. Southwest Gas provides low-maintenance energy solutions for the Valley. Your monthly bill can range from $30 to $120, depending on the season and your situation.
There are two companies — Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) — that provide electricity to residents of metro Phoenix. Your electricity bill will depend greatly on your comfort level. Prepare to pay an average of $60 for a small one-bedroom apartment, which can skyrocket to about $150 to $200 during the sweltering summer months. Many Valley residents do a managed payment plan, in which they pay a fixed price every month to avoid sticker shock when summer rolls around.
Most of the Valley’s cities water and sewer services are operated by the individual municipality. You can either call the city in which you live to turn on your water or pay your apartment complex or landlord directly. Expect to pay about $30 to $50 per month.
- Check with your apartment complex or landlord to see what utilities they cover. Contact your landlord and find out what companies are providing utilities services for the apartment. Usually apartment buildings include trash and recycling in the rent; however, if you are renting a house or a large apartment, your landlord may charge an extra fee for those services.
- Call the utility company to get things set up. If you haven’t established a decent credit record yet, you might have to pay a deposit to get things started, which is usually refunded after a year of prompt payments. We recommend calling the utility companies a few weeks in advance and scheduling the hook-up dates for a few days before move-in. Moving day will be a lot less stressful when you know all your utilities are properly working without a hitch.
- Pay your bills or pay the price. It seems simple, but a payment that is a few days delinquent can land you in a sweltering hot apartment without water or entertainment. Registering for automatic bill pay can protect you from missing payments or paying late. The amount will automatically be withdrawn from your account each month, taking the hassle out of writing a check or remembering a login.
- Use the bare minimum. To save a little moola, turn off the lights, TV and any other electric appliances whenever you leave the room. Also be aware that power companies often charge more (peak usage rates) for electricity during the day. Power is generally cheaper after 9 p.m. and on weekends. Don’t turn your air completely off during the day in the summer; it will take more energy to cool it down than to keep it running all day.
- Calculate your home energy costs. Use an online energy cost calculator to measure the average amount you will pay based on your electrical energy usage. Simply Google “generic electrical energy cost calculator” and plug in how often you use your lights, kitchen appliances, laundry machine and miscellaneous appliances like fans, vacuums and hair dryers.
- Build a budget. After you calculate the cost of your electricity, factor it into your overall budget. Consider how much you spend on food, clothes, school supplies and bills for your cell phone or credit card. This will give you an idea of how much you spend over a period of time and where you can cut costs.
- Split all utility costs with your roommate(s). If you have a roommate, consider putting half of the accounts in your name and half in their name. This way, you can both be held accountable and build credit.