The True Costs of Home Ownership Series - Utilities

A good financial rule of thumb is to use no more than 35% of your household's net income (take home pay) on housing costs. These costs include your mortgage, condo fees (if applicable), property taxes & utilities. Of course the costs don't stop there, there are a number of others monthly costs that AREN'T included in that 35% so hopefully this series helps you understand the True Costs of Home Ownership.
The inspiration for this series came from the recent release of the Annual Auditor General's REPORT for 2014 & her disturbing findings on the Smart Meter program & how much Ontarians pay for one of the many news articles about it HERE  The costs for heating & powering your home can be quite significant & should definitely be taken into account when you're looking at affordability, whether you're a first-time buyer or moving up to a larger home.

When it comes to utilities, everything stems from consumption. Consumption is going to vary because every household is different, from the number of people living in the house to the actual size of the house itself. Many people in the Durham region are shift-workers & no doubt there are lots of people who work from home like I do. If you're home during the day for whatever reason, then you're consuming utilities during peak hours of the day & therefore paying more for some of those utilities because of that. If you're gone from 6am to 6pm, 5 days a week because you work in Toronto then I'll bet your utility bills are going to be a LOT lower! 

This is one cost that's pretty universal, regardless of how you heat your home, unless you've found a way to live off the grid. Think manufacturing your own electricity might be the way to go? Check out what I wrote HERE about how it could affect your home's value & desirability. I think that most Ontarians, if not all of them are on Smart Meters now so here's how Time of Use rates work. It's a one-size-fits-all system for residential usage so there's not much we can do about it except take as many energy saving measures as we can. There are lots of energy savings tips available on the internet...just a quick Google search away & remember, the cost of powering our homes will continue to rise every year. The Ontario Energy Board has a handy dandy calculator on their website HERE & there is a bill breakdown on the Hydro One website HERE that you may find helpful even if you're serviced by Whitby HydroOshawa PUC or Veridian.

Heating Options
Natural gas, oil, propane, water (boiler system with radiators), electric baseboard...there are lots of options! The most popular & cheapest to run is a forced air, natural gas system. If you have other gas appliances like a stove, dryer, fireplace, pool or hot tub heater then obviously those things will increase your consumption. Here's a great article I came across from Style At Home magazine HERE which explains way more intelligently than I ever could about these different heating options. As with all your utility costs, "other charges" in addition to your consumption will determine how much you owe each month. Enbridge Gas has a detailed breakdown of a bill HERE & you can also find interesting articles HERE & HERE

Each person in the Durham region uses aprox. 250 litres of water per day & the average household uses aprox 248 cubic metres of water per year. No matter where you live in the Durham region you pay the same water & sewage rates. Factors affecting your bill are consumption, whether your property is serviced by a well and/or a septic system as well as service charges...the region has a great detailed breakdown of a water & sewage bill HERE

Remember, the lifestyle choices we make are inevitably going to affect our utility bills.... Adding a pool or hot tub will definitely increase your hydro usage but if you have a gas heater for your pool then it will raise your natural gas consumption as well. Like a green lawn? Depending on what your watering habits are, this can impact your water bill. Like the A/C cranked in the summer or to feel like you're in a tropical destination in the winter? Hello $$$$$ or should I say, Goodbye $$$$$...Decide what's important to you and/or your family & save where you can so that you can splurge where you want to!

Next week's installment will be a little primer on Property it HERE! :)

The 3rd installment is all about it HERE! :)

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