U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Covid-19 Information Page
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Pittsburgh
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-27-2009, 10:23 PM
 
9 posts, read 22,370 times
Reputation: 10

Advertisements

Hi all,

I"m looking at apartments and notice some come with utilities included and some not. I'm coming from California and I've never heard of such a thing. I don't know how much heat would be individually given this will be my first time in a cold climate,

In your opinion, is it better to rent a place with utilities included, or not?

Thanks.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-27-2009, 10:39 PM
 
20,273 posts, read 30,129,323 times
Reputation: 2899
The amount you can expect to pay in heating bills varies quite a bit with the place (and your habits). Obviously having heating included guarantees you aren't paying more than a certain amount, but you might be able to save a bit if it isn't included--landlords don't tend to take losses on these things.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-27-2009, 10:43 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 98,793,758 times
Reputation: 30529
I've done both. It all depends on if the apartment building has good insulation and windows. I had one apartment where I paid $1,200 a year for heat. That's was a high heating bill for the early 90's. Entire houses could be heated for that back then. When you consider a heat included, make sure any with heat included allows you to control the heat in your apartment. Otherwise, you'll be at the mercy of the landlord or another tenant that has control of the heat.

Once you have addresses of properties you're interested in renting, call the utility company and ask them to provide you with the data for last year's bill. Evem though the previous tenants might have kept the apartment warmer or cooler than your taste, you'll get a good idea of what it will cost or it might tip you off that there's an insulation problem. Since you're coming from California, you'll probably keep your heat high in the winter because you'll feel cold. Plan on budgeting enough to cover that.

FYI: Gas heat is cheaper than electric heat.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-27-2009, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
17 posts, read 30,552 times
Reputation: 10
Like everyone else has said in the above posts, it depends on a lot of factors. Personally, I prefer that I pay for the heat because I can control the temperature AND when I need it. Especially helpful if you are gone for large portions of the day or travel for work alot.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 07:22 AM
 
9 posts, read 22,370 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for that. I guess i'm enough of a control freak I'd rather be in charge of my own heating if it is not an immediate savings. My next question is, other than calling the utility companies, how do I gage the quality of insulation in a given apartment? Also, what is a good estimate of a "reasonable" utility bill in January? I do tend to run cold (but I am still excited about a real winter!) but I'm also conservative with other energy use, i.e., no TV, unplug my appliances, etc.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 07:51 AM
 
Location: somewhere near Pittsburgh, PA
1,444 posts, read 3,436,054 times
Reputation: 1639
When I moved into my apartment, the utility company told me what the average monthly bill was for the previous tenant, so I had an idea what to expect. Also, you can sign up for a budget billing plan so it takes some of the bite out of the bill for the cold winter months and keeps your monthly payment consistent. My monthy gas bill for an 800 sq ft apt is about $50 on the budget plan. But my apt is fairly modern with central air and heat. If you rent an old place, it could be much more.

I don't recommend a place with landlord controlled heat. I looked at one apt complex and the landlord said they know when they have the heat up too high because the residents have their windows open. Ugh...no thanks, I'd rather pay the extra money to be able to control the temp in my unit to my liking.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 08:12 AM
 
20,273 posts, read 30,129,323 times
Reputation: 2899
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakshikiz View Post
My next question is, other than calling the utility companies, how do I gage the quality of insulation in a given apartment?
So by far the biggest single factor is the physical setup. A townhouse is going to be easier to heat than a standalone house, and a flat easier than a townhouse, and a flat in the middle part of a large building the easiest. Sunlight also makes a difference: a place with good southern exposure (with southwest exposure being better than southeast exposure) is going to require less heating, and it also helps if the place is brick/masonry (the thermal mass of brick/masonry will absorb heat from the sun during the day then release it back well into the night). Finally, basement apartments are a mixed bag: in theory they are well-insulated, but they don't always have adequate/efficient heating.

After that, wall and roof insulation is usually pretty tough to assess visually, but you can at least check windows--are they multiple pane or do they at least have storms available? Are there any noticeable gaps, signs of water leakage, or so on? Do they seem to seal properly? You can do the same sort if inspection with any exterior doors, including seeing if they have storm doors. Where possible you can also check outside walls for any signs of mold or other indications of water condensation, which in turn is an indication of poor insulation. Try looking in hard to reach places with a flashlight, like in cabinets or behind radiators, where landlords are less likely to have caught any problems.

Quote:
Also, what is a good estimate of a "reasonable" utility bill in January? I do tend to run cold (but I am still excited about a real winter!) but I'm also conservative with other energy use, i.e., no TV, unplug my appliances, etc.
Unless you are in a very efficient setup or really use appliances like crazy (or I guess if you grow pot), heating will tend to swamp other energy uses in the peak winter months. It really is impossible to give you a reliable estimate on those costs, however: it could be anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars depending on the circumstances. That is why there is really no substitute for getting utility records.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 09:28 AM
 
43,012 posts, read 98,793,758 times
Reputation: 30529
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakshikiz View Post
Also, what is a good estimate of a "reasonable" utility bill in January? I do tend to run cold (but I am still excited about a real winter!) but I'm also conservative with other energy use, i.e., no TV, unplug my appliances, etc.
As Brian noted, it's impossible for us to give you a reasonable bill because there's so many factors and reasonable is subjective.

I don't have my January bill with me, but the bill gives a chart of usage for the entire year.

My usage is 113.4 MCF per year. My January usage was 23 MCF. My June usage was 3.2 MCF. My June bill was $57.61.

Even though the MCF price changes each month, we'll estimate with that. 23/3.5=6.57 32*6.57=378.49 I'd say that's a fairly accurate estimate of my January bill.

Remember, I'm heating a house, not an apartment.

However, in the early 90s, I had an apartment that cost $1,200 to heat per year. Then again, that was the winter we had three blizzards.

You have the option of paying your usage every month or you can pay on the budget plan where usage is divided throughout the year.

For instance, I could pay the $378.49 in January and $57.61 in June, or I can chose to pay the budget at approximately $150 every month.

One thing is for sure, be glad that Pennsylvania's utilities are regulated. I had a friend who was living in Maryland during deregulation of utilities.

Her heating bill jumped to $700 more per month in the winter than her normal bill. They could barely make ends meet trying to pay the sudden rise in utilities.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
17 posts, read 30,552 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopes View Post

One thing is for sure, be glad that Pennsylvania's utilities are regulated. I had a friend who was living in Maryland during deregulation of utilities.

Her heating bill jumped to $700 more per month in the winter than her normal bill. They could barely make ends meet trying to pay the sudden rise in utilities.
Wow, how is that even permitted to happen? Seems like there would be some serious backlash from that.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-28-2009, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
1,350 posts, read 3,295,807 times
Reputation: 403
I think probably $100-125 a month ballpark for a medium sized apartment kept at a fairly comfortable temperature during the winter... heating my 1500ish sq ft house is like $250-300 depending on the price of gas (tend to run fairly cold). This will vary obviously depending on the size, whether you are an end unit, your window quality, your insulation quality, etc. A townhouse would be somewhere in between. For some reason the summer bills always seem to be more than they should be despite the fact you are using little to no gas. In my opinion, you can figure the value of included heat as somewhere around $40-50 a month all year round.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Pittsburgh

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top