Pristine beaches as far as the eye can see, more blue skies and sunshine than you can imagine, breathtaking vistas, and top-shelf international cuisine at your fingertips — it’s no wonder Los Angeles captures the hearts and souls of so many.
However, like most of the finer things in life, it doesn’t come cheap. In fact, LA housing costs, prices of food and vehicle fuel, and even the outlay for shoes and clothing are higher than they are in other major hubs like New York, San Diego, and San Francisco.
If you’re not deterred by the high cost of living and clothing yourself in Los Angeles, you still have to consider those other essentials you can’t survive without: utilities.
Based on May 2019 research data released by Numbeo.com, the average price for electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for a 915-square-foot apartment in Los Angeles was $127.26. If you want or need that “luxury” called the internet, it’ll set you back another $62.10 every month.
Heating And Cooling
Even though Los Angeles is known for sunshine and mild temperatures, the part of the city you live in can significantly affect your heating and cooling costs. For instance, the San Fernando Valley temperatures often climb into triple-digits in the summer and can dip into bitter cold spells during the winter, so the people who live there usually pay more to keep their environment tolerable. Conversely, if you live in other areas like Malibu, the temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees or drop below the 30s.
As of October 2019, Los Angeles’ average family electricity costs are 39.7-percent higher than the nationwide average at 19.0 cents per kWh. Of course, that trend is not exactly new. In the past five years, the amount Los Angeles-area customers shelled out for electricity surpassed the national average by 35.3 percent or more during October.
Water, Garbage, and Phone Services
Apartment dwellers typically don’t pay for water and garbage services directly, as those costs are usually included in monthly rent charges. Single-family houses pay varying rates depending on the location, as well as the rainfall/drought conditions of the area and the prevailing waste management company.
Phone costs vary greatly across the country based on choices in landlines, cell service providers, and Internet plan options.
The Natural Gas Alternative
Opting for natural gas for heating, cooling, and cooking, which is largely unavailable in many of the more populated regions of LA, offers little relief. The average cost of utility gas in October 2019 was around $1.323 per thermostat, up from the $1.279 cost the previous year and about 27.1 percent higher than the national average. In fact, the fluctuation in natural gas costs over the past five years has dramatically changed in the Los Angeles area, vacillating between 25 percent and 45 percent higher than the national average.
How to Save on Utilities
The good news is that no matter where you live, there are many ways to save money on your household utilities.
If you live in a newer apartment or house, you may already be blessed with energy-efficient appliances. Even as a renter, it’s a good idea to invest a few hundred dollars in energy-saving washers and dryers, stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, heaters, and humidifiers. Look for Energy Star labels when shopping for appliances going forward, and save at least $100 a year.
Instead of keeping your home at 68 degrees even when you’re not at home so that it’s comfortable when you return to it after work, consider investing in a smart thermostat. These energy-saving, cost-effective gadgets let you program temperatures so you don’t waste money keeping your place cool or warm when you’re away. Many are even controllable via smartphone, allowing you to control the temperature in your home no matter where you are.
Compare Internet Providers
Dedicate a couple of hours to exploring several Internet provider plans and pricing. If you aren’t online at home very often or generally communicate and conduct business on your smartphone, you don’t necessarily need to pay for high-end Internet service. You should also look into bundle plans that offer discounts on phone, cable, and internet services if you buy all of them from a single provider.
Unplug Manually (or Automatically)
Unplugging appliances when they’re not in use can save you significant amounts of money by eliminating phantom charges. From stoves to washers, dryers, and TVs, every appliance still sucks power when it’s turned off. To eliminate the time and hassle of the unplugging routine every day, simply invest in timer strips. These handy gadgets can easily be programmed to shut off at a prescribed time every day so you don’t have to deal with the task yourself. You can also achieve similar results by using the on/off switches on conventional power strips.