Utilities Big vs Little House? and Stone House?

Updated on July 24, 2012
J.M. asks from Doylestown, PA
10 answers

I have a utility question

Currently I am in a TINY 2 bedroom cottage size of an apartment) and my bills are
electric-200 per month
oil- was 800 for the winter plus an extra 150 a month for electic (space heaters) because my landlords heater was broke and J. using oil without heating the place

we;re considering movig to a 4 bedroom 2 1/2 bath house same price as the tiny place we're at (fluke, we found the one rich couple who decided to rent their place insanely cheap!)
BUT if we do somehow rent this I'm wondering what utilities will be for heating and electric?
My daughters school teacher is renting it now and said her electric bill is VERY low but mentioned she doesnt use the dryer, and that her heating was 800 last winter (1600- but only used half)
Although when I asked her she had to really think. I'm wondering if her husband pays the bills and she was J. guessing.

Anyway does a stone house retain heat and cold better or worse then the alterniative?
We went in the house on a 90 degree day and she only had fans on and it felt cool....so I'm thinking maybe it does help?
Also is electric more in a bigger home?

What are ways to keep utility costs down?

I forgot to mention there is a wood fireplace

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answers from Madison on

You can call the electric company and tell them the address of the house you look to rent and they can give you the last years costs.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Holy cow! You are paying through the nose for electricity and gas! For that size apartment? It must not be insultated well at all. It really doesn't matter as much on the size of the house but on the insulation and the units you use to cool and heat. You want to seal up everything and use energy effient units to heat and cool to save money. Go online for every single hint to help saving money. Caulking, foam behind each outlet, etc. If you buy fans or heaters be sure they're energy efficient and only use as needed, keeping all doors closed. Use the wood fireplace! Find a deal on some word and have it delivered and that will be much cheaper than heating fuel. Save all papers and paper products to use and burn as well.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

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answers from Minneapolis on

The biggest electrical draws in a house are from water heater if electric, refrigerator, dryer if electric, and then the accumulated draw of all the stuff we leave plugged in that uses electricity even if the item is off (TV, stereo, DVD, etc), and air conditioning. Air conditioning is the only one that significantly changes with size of the building. In terms of heat, it all comes down to the R-value of the walls and ceiling combined with the overall "tightness" of the house, so really hard to say.

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answers from New York on

Do you mean it is an open fireplace or it is a wood burning stove? The wood burning stove will give you a lot of heat in the winter, that is actually how we do over half of our heating during the cold months. But you have to buy the wood and store it in a dry place for several months even if it is seasoned. If it's J. a fireplace then it is more for ambiance although it does throw of some heat, J. not enough to consistently heat your house. It sounds like you were paying way too much for utilities but it really depends on how the house is insulated and what kind of windows it has. Make sure all the major appliances you don't use everyday are unplugged. We save a lot of money that way.

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answers from Miami on

its been a long time since I've had to pay for heat lol but I do remember that you get your electric company/heating company come out and do a inspection and show you ways to insulate better. Also we use to have a old a/c unit which actually had our electric bill alot higher. When we got a more energy efficent one our bills dropped alot. If you are thinking of moving anyway look at those two items. Type of a/c or heating system and insulation so you know if it will be worth you while

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answers from St. Louis on

no way to predict this! It all depends on the age & insulation of the home + the efficiency ratio on the equipmt.

for example: my Mom lives in a small cottage which is 100+years old. Her utility bills are equal to my sister's medium-size/brand-new condo. My sister has the bigger home, but has all new insulation & equipmt.

By contrast, we own a 40+ year old home, needing both updated equipmt & new insulation. Our utility bills run twice that of my mom/sis...& we have almost twice the square footage. We're not doing badly, but know we need to spend the $$$$ to update.

As for the wood fireplace: we heat with a wood stove insert in our fireplace. The cost of firewood is high, so we cut our own. We go thru about 6 truckloads each winter. From beginning to end, each load takes about 4-6 hours to cut/split/stack. That's a lot of time expended. + I hate the thick dust produced in our home from the wood.....I have to dust at least 3 times/week to keep the house clean. Additionally, I am allergic & end up using an inhaler thru the winter months. Yep, I hate burning wood! Oh, & we do this because the great room is heated only thru the FP.

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answers from Dallas on

I believe a lot of it depends on the quality of the heating and air units, how well they were installed, your insulation, etc.

Our home is a bit over 4000SF, we live in Texas.

When we built our home in 2000 it was nothing to get an $800 electric in summer or $500 gas in winter. We revamped our system, gutted what the builder did, put in quality equipment, more insulation (spent about $20,000).

Ever since we did the revamp, my highest electric bill has not been over $400 and neither has gas. This summer my electric has not hit $300.

I am not a conserver, i run my dishwasher, washer, dryer when needed. We work from home running our company, our temps in the house are comfy, etc.

My water bill is another thing. We are on water restriction and last August-October my water bills were over $700 a month. So far this year, they've not been over $300.

Hope that helps.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would ask her for copies of past bills (with personal info blacked out), or call the utility companies and ask them for info on those addresses. We have a 4/3 brick Cape Cod with a heated garage and our utilities average $200/month (or $2400 for the year). Brick definitely hold temps better, but also needs insulation to hold the temps optimally - our house had no insulation when we first bought it, and we could tell the difference. Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

You will have to see the utility bills to tell for sure.

We have a home that was built in 1962/63. We have added extra insulation, changed the water heater, oven and stove from electric to gas and changed our single pane windows to double pane. We now have all energy saving light bulbs that use considerably less electricity. We have a whole house fan which we know how to use.

Our electricity bill has been cut to much less than half of what it used to be. Our lowest electric bill is now in the $60 range for 5 or 6 months of the year. Our worst electric bill was $375.

Solar clothes dryers save a lot of money. I installed three in our homes over the years. They are easy and inexpensive to install.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Lakeland on

It really depends on usage then the size of the home for electric. Heating would cost more if there is more space. The age of the home would also be a factor in the heating cost, the newer the home the better the insulation would be. I think the stone will help keep it warmer in winter since the cold winds won't go through the walls, it also helps to insulate it in the summer.

The fireplace is nice for relaxing, but they don’t really do well for heating a home.

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