Shock Value: The Rising Cost of Utilities in America

By Matthew Wheeland - January 18, 2012

*Last Modified: June 3rd, 2014

Infographic: Americans' Utility Spending

Shock Value: The Rising Cost of Utilities in America

A look into Mint.com users’ spending data shows that U.S. utility bills reached record highs in 2011—and are likely to continue an upward trajectory. We take a look at what Americans pay for basic gas and electricity per month, where rates are rising, and why.

How Much We Spend on Utilities Each Month

Month-to-month fees vary by usage and season. However, in 2011, Americans are paying roughly 2 percent more per month on utilities compared to the same time in 2010. Here’s how it breaks down in your state.

  • Average monthly utility bill in the U.S.: $163
  • Alabama: $195
  • Alaska: $133
  • Arizona: $150
  • Arkansas: $94
  • California: $141
  • Colorado: $152
  • Connecticut: $206
  • Delaware: $243
  • Florida: $165
  • Georgia: $188
  • Hawaii: $189
  • Idaho: $112
  • Illinois: $135
  • Indiana: $164
  • Iowa: $153
  • Kansas: $126
  • Kentucky: $148
  • Louisiana: $83
  • Maine: $128
  • Maryland: $127
  • Massachusetts: $163
  • Michigan: $199
  • Minnesota: $161
  • Mississippi: $68
  • Missouri: $179
  • Montana: $117
  • Nebraska: $90
  • Nevada: $194
  • New Hampshire: $152
  • New Jersey: $229
  • New Mexico: $127
  • New York: $184
  • North Carolina: $145
  • North Dakota: $115
  • Ohio: $172
  • Oklahoma: $153
  • Oregon: $114
  • Pennsylvania: $187
  • Rhode Island: $190
  • South Carolina: $151
  • South Dakota: $142
  • Tennessee: $122
  • Texas: $164
  • Utah: $134
  • Vermont: $179
  • Virginia: $152
  • Washington: $162
  • West Virginia: $139
  • Wisconsin: $180
  • Wyoming: $117

The Hot List

On average, residents in the Northeast face the steepest utility costs. And though nationwide averages show we’re spending 2 percent more each month, some Americans are seeing much greater spikes.

Where Residents Pay the Most for Utilities

(Average monthly utilities spending, 2011)

  1. Staten Island, NY: $271
  2. Evansville, IN: $258
  3. Syracuse, NY: $256
  4. Wilmington, DE: $252
  5. Trenton, NJ: $252
  6. Schenectady, NY: $232
  7. Boca Raton, FL: $229
  8. Detroit, MI: $224
  9. Yonkers, NY: $218
  10. Cincinnati, OH: $217

Greatest Spending Spikes

(Compared to same time in 2010)

  1. Lubbock, TX: +25%
  2. Long Beach, CA: +20%
  3. Everett, WA: +19%
  4. Torrance, CA: +18%
  5. Tulsa, OK: +17%
  6. Macon, GA: +17%
  7. Akron, OK: +16%
  8. Tacoma, WA: +15%
  9. Syracuse, NY: 15%
  10. Jersey City, NJ: 15%

 

Electricity Trends Worth Noticing

This data reflects a 2 percent increase in household spending on utilities, but refers to both gas & electric. The Energy Information Administration indicates that when isolated, electricity rates are rising at an even higher rate, adding about $300 a year to a household’s electricity spend.

  • Average rate is now 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • Electricity experienced the fifth consecutive yearly increase above the inflation rate.
  • Electricity now accounts or about $1.50 of every $100 of our after-tax income.

Would Solar Save You Money?

A random sample of 3,990 solar homeowners in over 40 states indicate their average monthly electricity bill before going solar in 2011 was $217.27. (Note: This figure does not include gas. These homeowners were spending more than $200 a month on electricity only).

A random sample of 123 solar lease owners indicate the average monthly solar lease payment in 2011 was $174.24. The average system size for a leased system was 5.95kW (a medium sized system).

Conclusion 1

As U.S. utility bills hit record highs and continue to climb, keep a close eye on your annual electricity spending. When you start spending in the $200 range for electricity, make a habit of requesting solar quotes at least once a year to check your return on investment.

Conclusion 2

If you’re already spending, on average, more than $200 a month on electricity alone, get a quote on a home solar system this year.

Tip: Most homeowners’ electricity spending varies dramatically month to month due to seasonal changes, so it’s valuable to come up with a monthly average, blended across all 12 months.

What’s ?

makes it convenient and easy to understand and shop for solar energy. offers choices so homeowners can get a free solar estimate however it’s most convenient for them, either online at pureenergies.com or by phone at 1-877-444-4002 — without the need for a home visit. Founded in 2008, has helped thousands of homeowners go solar in over 40 U.S. states. is the winner of a TreeHugger “Best of Green” award and sponsored the first-ever solar deals on Groupon.com. Tell your friends about .
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By Dave Llorens

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