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Averaging your bills to even out your monthly expenses

When we lived in our craphole apartment, I dreaded the monthly power bill.  I am an energy tyrant, and even keeping our place at a freezing 60 degrees in winter, we would still get bills for $225ish each month from December through March.  It was enough to make me throw up in my mouth while getting the mail.

We’ve been renting my parent’s house for a year now (a year!), and like the giant nerd I am, I’ve been keeping track of our monthly utilities since we moved in.  On an Excel sheet.


I set up the Excel file to automatically average the monthly cost of ALL our utilities, and to average the monthly cost for each provider.  Now that I have one year of data, I’m going to begin paying the utilities the monthly average each time I pay the bill.  The idea is that in certain months when your bill is lower than the monthly average, you’re building a “cushion” with the company.  During the months when the bill is higher than the monthly average, you’re utilizing the cushion you’ve built.  If all goes according to plan, you won’t have to pay over the cushion to pay down the bill.  There might be a few months when you pay a few extra bucks, but generally, it should be equal at the end of the year if you’re averaging correctly.  Obviously there are factors to consider – if your winter is extra cold, or your summer is extra hot – costs will vary from year to year.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all utilities want you to do this.  Some want you to set up a service that kind of does this for you.  Make sure you check with your own utility company before starting to pay in this manner.

Here are the details for our place:

Our house and water are heated by natural gas.  The stove and oven are electric.  We don’t have AC, so in the summer the gas is basically only used for heating water.

June electric– we didn’t move in until the 11th of that month, so it’s not a 100% complete average.
October electric – we bought the new freezer for the basement.  Average yearly cost to run it is estimated (by the company) at $56.
January natural gas – during the winter, we keep our house at 67 when we’re awake, and 52 at night.  In January work was closed for 3 days because of snow, so Jack and I were home all day for 3 days when we’d normally be at work.
September and October water – why in the world is my water bill the lowest when I was doing the most watering of the gardening?!?!?!?!
June average monthly output is a bit off because we did move in almost halfway through the month.
Monthly average ranges from a low of $80.62 to a high of $211.17.  Paying $160.08 per month will help me average out my monthly expenditures so that those higher months don’t catch me by surprise.

We went from a 1,000 sq ft apartment to a 2,000 sq ft house and yet our average monthly utilities for ALL utilities, is still cheaper than our highest electric bill in our old apartment.  God bless insulation!

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11 comments on “Averaging your bills to even out your monthly expenses”

  1. You put some serious work into this! I hope the payoff is worth it for you 🙂

  2. Look at the two water bills that came in too low. It may have been an estimated reading.

    • I don’t think so. We get billed a month late for those last 2 months, so I think they’d have time to reconcile the meter readings vs. estimate?

  3. I have been doing this for 3 years and it does help. Even if you are slightly out it is much better to get a $23 bill instead of $200.

  4. This is great. I just found your blog. Our power company (Georgia Power) does budget billing as a service to its customers that opt in for it. It is nice!

  5. Quick Question: DO you really water your garden in September/October or does that mean you got your bill in those months for the previous months? I’m mostly just wondering what is left in the garden by then: potatoes?
    Also, do you live in a place where the gas & electric numbers are automatically sent to the utility company; or do they send people out to “read your meter” so to speak once every three months, like here? I’ve been trying to come up with a better way to track my utility usage so I can figure some things out, but I am stuck at this three month hurdle. (also envious of those people who get lower night-time rates gas&electric)

    • I backdate/track my bills for that Excel document, so the prices in those months are for the actual usage in those months.

      In the Seattle area, our summer starts July 5th, and we often have long “Indian Summers” with nice weather until October. I was still harvesting strawberries until November last year, and I was pulling in probably 10 lbs of tomatoes a day in early October.

      The end of August – mid September is usually quite dry.

      I believe we have someone reading our water meter every 2 months. We’re billed for 2 month increments, and it shows the breakdown of usage for each of the 2 previous months you’re being billed for.

      Usually on all our utility bills, it shows the usages for the last 12 months. You might work backwards with that and compare it to the prices you paid for that 3 month chunk of time. I bet the utility company would also give you a monthly breakdown if you asked.

  6. I haven’t averaged out my utilities before, but I do pay over every month. And then the next month I’ll pay over what the initial charge was, not the discounted with my overage from the previous month. I was nice having a negative balance on our gas bill this month. We’re coming up on a year in our house at the end of the month. I may have to try this.