Shock Value: The Rising Cost of Utilities in America

posted by Shannon on January 18th, 2012

Infographic: Americans' Utility Spending

Infographic: Americans' Utility Spending

Shock Value: The Rising Cost of Utilities in America

A look into 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 spend 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 One Block Off the Grid?

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

By Dave Llorens

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6 Responses to “Shock Value: The Rising Cost of Utilities in America”

  1. [...] windfall overtime. Americans already spend $2,000 dollars per year on gasoline, and another $2,000 per year on electricityon average. Suburbanites likely spend significantly more on [...]

    • ohio guy says:

      I only spend $85-95 a month. electric hot water, stove, fridge AND upright freezer (both are 20+ yrs old).
      I guess this plan doesn’t save me money !!!

  2. [...] when the warm temperatures arrive. The USDE estimates that the average homeowner spends from $310 to $400 a year on hot water. Therefore, homeowners who turn down their water heaters will notice a reduction in their electric [...]

  3. [...] lower than the average monthly utility bill across the US, which averaged $163 according to this infographic (compiled from mint data back in 2011), and $165 in [...]

  4. [...] of an increase in government incentives for installing rooftop solar panels (not to mention the rising cost of utilities), homeowners in more than one-quarter of U.S. states can now achieve a rate of return that [...]

  5. […] the average family spends $1024.70/month on groceries, $368/month on gasoline and $163/month on utilities. If you can commit to just putting those purchases on your card, you could pocket an extra $31.11 […]

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