Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Utilities (The Budget, #4)

We live in the city, so we are billed for all our utilities through the City public works department. For our budget, "utilities" means

Electric There is a base charge of $16.77, and then on top of that we pay $0.0674/KwH. This is the largest single factor in our utility bill, and the most variable. We've done a few things to keep it generally low. We have fluorescent lights in the kitchen and dining room, LED lights in the living room; the bathroom is the only other room that regularly has lights on-- I'm planning on swapping out the incandescent bulbs for LED when they finally burn out. The water heater is set at the lowest possible setting (I think it's 115°F). We don't have an A/C unit, so there's no power wasted there; heating is all electric baseboard heaters, which aren't the greatest, but we try to keep the heat off or low as much as possible.

Water The majority of the water cost is in the flat-rate surcharge ($28.22), the variable rate ($0.02/CF) adding maybe $7-13 a month. So, while we do have a 2.5gpm showerhead, I don't worry too much about water usage except to try to keep it under 429 cubic feet/month, because usage above that rate-tier bumps up the cost per unit AND bumps the sewer rate to the next tier...

Sewer A flat rate for sewer usage, based on the volume of water used-- under 429 cubic feet, and it's $61.95/month, if we use more water than that it is priced at the next tier which is way more expensive (I think we did once, and I was not happy with the cost...).

Garbage We have the option to have our garbage can emptied weekly or every other week. Of course, less often = less expensive, and as a bonus, they give us the largest available residential dumpster size (96 gallon). We'll often forget to put it out on time, and it will often still not be full after a month. Every other week service is a flat rate of $18.50/month.

City Taxes Our city provides free fire and emergency medical (ambulance) services, for which we pay a few dollars every month. We also pay some tax for when the sewer system overflows (during heavy rains, etc.); a little tax on garbage; a few dollars for a study they're doing about the sludge in the harbour (or something like that); and a little bit for general city operations. All told, $11.38 every month.

And that's it. There are a few things we could do better, I guess-- we could find a clothesline instead of using the dryer-- but Mrs. Fund already hates doing the laundry, and the dryer makes that chore less of a chore. I've thought about a drying rack, but...neither of us wants to have to pick ALL the clothes up after the two little Fund toddlers pull it over.

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