the “utilities” problem.

I’ve never paid a utilities bill. I’ve paid a lot of tuition, loan, and insurance bills – but never water, electric, gas, etc. Since I started living in apartments in college I’ve always lived where rent “includes utilities.” Sounds awesome, right? In college it makes a lot of sense, landlords want to avoid stupid college kids avoiding utility bills and causing them lots of problems, so they rack up the monthly rate and pay the utilities themselves. This is great… for the landlords.

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Current sublet, isn’t it cute! We have a fence, a yard, and everything.

Currently, David and I are subletting from a guy on vacation (unfortunately it’s more like house sitting but we actually have to pay… oh well). At the moment, we’re searching for a longer term apartment for August 1st. While looking around Durango for an apartment David and I find ourselves debating the “utilities problem” a lot. Rent that includes utilities can make an apartment look more pleasing, but in reality I don’t think it’s helpful. 

I want to save energy. I want to save water. I want to save gas. In doing all of those things, I’d also like to save money. My money. I’m not trying to save my landlord money. Even though it sounds dangerous when you’re looking at ads, I actually think that paying your own utilities can be really useful for people trying to save resources and the environment. Paying your own electricity bill provides you with an additional economic incentive to turn off the lights. Same applies to water and gas conservation.

Our biggest problem at the moment is that Durango apartments that don’t include utilities still cost nearly as much as the ones that do… so who knows what we’ll do. Hopefully the right place shows it’s face (or front door) soon; ideally before August 1st…

Do you use your utility bills to save the environment?

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3 Comments

  1. Christine

    Em – if the “utilities included” rents cost about as much as the “pay your own utilities” rents – definitely go for the included rents. You WILL be saving your own money because you will be imbedding your resource savings in your monthly rent. Yes, by being conservative, you’ll also be saving your landlord money – but the ultimate savings will be yours because your total monthly costs will be less. And you’ll still turn off that water while you brush your teeth and you’ll still keep your heat down and put on a sweater instead when it’s cold. So you can feel good about what you’re doing for the environment. But if the “pay your own utilities” apartments will cost you more in the long run just so you can get and pay your own bill – that’s money out of your pocket…

    Love you – hope you’re having the time of your life! Auntie Christine

  2. Jan Golden

    When it comes to actual home ownership, there is no such thing as “utilities included”, so there is no option. We do try to do our part for the environment by conserving water (turning it off while actually brushing teeth and turning it back on just to rinse, avoiding unnecessary long showers, etc.), keeping our thermostat adjusted to a reasonable, but not uncomfortable level, always turning lights out when not in a room, etc. The home we are buying is a “green” home and has extremely good energy ratings that include above average insulation in the attic, walls, and windows, etc.

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