A recent article on EcoBuilding.com listed 10 cities with the highest utility bills…what an eye-opener! “Utility” bills included not only electric and gas costs but also “essential home services”, i.e. telephone, television and high-speed internet since so many homes have devices like computers, tablets, x-boxes, etc. According to the WhiteFence Index 2012 data collection the following cities topped the list of highest utilities.
- Houston. Average bill: $297.33
- Orlando, Fla.. Average bill: $292.13
- New York City. Average bill: $288.76
- Dallas. Average bill: $277.26
- San Francisco. Average bill: $268.43
- Las Vegas. Average bill: $267.18
- Washington, D.C. Average bill: $258.21
- Phoenix. Average bill: $256.20
- Boston. Average bill: $255.86
- Charlotte, N.C. Average bill: $253.87
To emphasize the cost of operating a home even more the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) has a US map of average utility bills on their website. They also provide information on the states with the highest residential utility rates. The average monthly electric bill for residential properties in Hawaii was $203.15, the highest in the nation for 2012, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The average residential electric bill, by contrast, in New Mexico was $74.62, the lowest in the nation. In the contiguous United States, the South Atlantic region had the highest average monthly electric bill at $122.71, while the Pacific region (California, Oregon, and Washington) had the lowest.
It’s no surprise that CBS News reported at the end of 2013 that home electricity use in the US had fallen to the levels of 2001! Think about the gadgets you owned in 2001…probably no tablet, no gaming consoles, no Nest thermostats and very few smart houses! It seems we are on track for the third year in row of lowest electric usage and almost every home has increased the number of gadgets! Thank heavens for the energy-efficiency that has been designed into newer gadgets! According to the CBS News article the changes in homes, appliances and our favorite gadgets have resulted in lower power needs than ever before. Some newer 40-inch LED TVs use 80% less power than the old cathode ray tube TVs….some using just $8/year of electricity when used 5 hours a day – less than a 60 watt incandescent bulb! According to the Electric Power Research Institute, it costs $1.36 a year to power an iPad…compare that with $28.21 for a desktop computer!
Although many folks may not admit saving energy is one of their priorities when purchasing new appliances they typically search for the well-known Energy Star label! As this continuing trend toward more energy-efficient appliances and awareness continues it is only natural for energy-efficient homes to be more in demand. Whether that means building a new home or retrofitting an older home with energy upgrades, the importance of energy-efficiency and a tight building envelope are becoming expected standards for homes.
If you are planning to build a new home or retrofit an older one be sure to explore any energy-efficient upgrades possible as they will add quite a bit of value to your home when it is time to sell! And be sure to work with a qualified REALTOR® with training in sustainability, such as NAR GREEN designation, certified EcoBroker or USGBC’s LEED AP. These third-party designations ensure a much higher level of knowledge which will be a value-added benefit! Visit USGreenBrokers.com to find a certified real estate professional in your state.