What are Utilities? A Guide to Canadian Utilities

While evaluating your budget, it’s easy to overlook the expense of utilities. However, with the wide range of services you’ll need for a pleasant living situation, your utility costs may quickly mount up, especially given the average housing price these days.

Continue reading our article where we discuss the following topics:

  • What are utilities?
  • What are the most common types of utilities?
  • What is the average price of utility in Canada and much more!

Let’s get right into it!

What are Utilities?

Utilities are the basic services your home, apartment, or business needs to keep it comfortable and functioning properly.

utility work ahead sign behind a truck

You heard it, utilities come in two types: business and residential. So, what does business utilities mean?

The main distinction between business and residential utilities is that businesses tend to use more of each service than residences. For example, a business will usually have more lights on during the day and use more water for things like restrooms and kitchens, which is exactly why prices may be slightly lower for companies.

Who Pays for Utilities?

When it comes to houses, the homeowner is in charge of contracting the required services and paying for them. However, in the case of apartments, it’s generally a matter of agreement, with a few possible ways of handling utilities:

  • They are paid by the landlord,
  • They are paid by the tenant, or
  • The cost is split between the tenant and the landlord.

Sometimes, given how landlords are usually aware of the average utility costs for their apartment, they decide to include the cost within the rent. However, some landlords may decide that this is not very cost-effective, especially with the fluctuating nature of costs in mind.

What we suggest is talking to your potential landlord to try to figure out the optimal system that works for both of you.

Types of Utilities

Utilities are more or less the same all around the world and Canada makes no exception. Let’s go over the most common types of utilities in the Great White North to get a better picture.

Water and Sewer

When you buy a home, you are responsible for arranging water and sewage services with your city government. The typical Canadian family uses about 220 litres of water per day, so it’s important to factor in your city’s water rate when budgeting for home utilities.

Your water and sewer usage can be billed monthly or quarterly.

Electric and Gas

Electricity is yet another essential utility that everyone needs in this day and age to live a normal life. Your home will need electricity to power lights, appliances, and the heating and cooling system.

When it comes to heating, most Canadian homes are heated with either natural gas or oil. Like water and sewage services, you will need to set up an account with your local electric and gas provider.

Trash and Recycling

In most cases, your municipality will offer trash and recycling pickup services for a fee, with the frequency of these pickups depending on your city’s regulations. For example, some cities require trash to be placed at the curb once a week, while others allow for bi-weekly pickups.

Technology

Technology subscriptions like cable TV, internet, security, and phone service can also be considered utilities. Technology home utilities may include phone, internet, computer security and cable TV.

These services, although not essential in the way that water or electricity is, are often required to keep a home or business running smoothly, so many people consider them a necessary part of their budget.

Home Security

Home security is a top priority for many families, thus, a number of ways to secure your home can be found in Canada. The most common home security utilities include burglar alarms, security cameras, as well as motion sensor lights.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Landscaping can also be considered a utility in some cases, although this is usually a service that the homeowner contracts and pays for separately. Homeowners insurance is another common cost that is often lumped in with utilities, but unlike other utilities, this one is mostly optional.

In addition, note that this is usually something that is part of house utilities, as apartments rarely have the need for landscaping utilities.

How Much are Home Utilities per Month in Canada?

The cost of utilities varies depending on the type of service, provider, and location. However, the average monthly cost for utilities in Canada is around $300. For a more detailed breakdown of utility costs, check out the table below.

Utility Type Average Monthly Cost
Water $50/month
Electricity $70/month
Gas $60
Trash and recycling $25
Technology $80
Home security $30
Other miscellaneous costs $20

Note that costs may vary depending on your location, with larger cities being a bit more expensive. What is more, the cost may also depend on the season. For instance, gas/electricity bills tend to be higher in the winter season, due to greater consumption.

Take a look at the following section of this article where we discuss the factors that determine the amount you pay for utilities.

How to Estimate the Cost of  Home Utilities?

While some things may be a bit more difficult to calculate, such as market fluctuations as well as supply abundance or shortage, there are certain factors that play a significant role when it comes to the amount of your bills. Let’s go over them.

Apartment Size

One of the essential factors that determine your utility cost is your apartment size. The average two-bedroom apartment in Canada is about 1000 square feet. If your apartment is larger or smaller than this, your utility costs may be higher or lower as well.

The Number of Occupants

Another important factor to consider when estimating your utility cost is the number of people living in your space. The more people you have in your home, the consumption will be higher and, naturally, the price.

Type of Home

Simply put, a house will have higher utility bills than an apartment because houses typically have more lights and appliances. They may also need special services, such as large-scale air conditioning or industrial-sized trash pickup. This is why apartments generally pay less for utilities.

Location and Regional Weather

Your location is a key variable in determining your utility costs. If you live in a rural area, your utility bills will be lower compared to urban areas because there are fewer people and businesses using the same resources. For instance, a utility bill in Toronto would be substantially higher compared to a bill in Stratford, for instance.

Additionally, the climate of your region can affect your utility bills as well. Colder areas tend to pay substantially more for heating compared to Canadian regions with milder winters.

Appliances and Electronics

The appliances and electronics you use in your home can seriously harm your bills. If you have a lot of high-powered devices, such as computers or gaming systems, your electricity bill will be higher than if you only used basic appliances.

What is more, the type of your appliances is also not to be taken lightly, as older appliances (which are generally not energy-efficient)  tend to use up more electricity.

How to Save on Home Utilities?

Last but not least, let’s talk about some of the ways you can save on utilities. Let’s take a closer look at what can be done.

  • Use energy-efficient appliances: Energy-efficient appliances use less power and water, which can help lower your utility bills.
  • Adjust your thermostat: Heating and cooling account for a large portion of most people’s utility bills. By adjusting your thermostat, you can save money on your energy costs.
  • Educate yourself about utility rates: Understanding how utility rates work can help you budget for your monthly expenses and avoid overspending.
  • Shop around for service providers: Not all service providers offer the same plans. By shopping around, you can find the best deal on utilities for your home.
  • Try to use less water: Water is one of the most expensive utilities. By using less water, you can save money on your monthly bill.

There you have it! It doesn’t sound that difficult to pull off, yet it can save you thousands of dollars.

Finishing Thoughts

Utilities are an essential part of life in Canada. They keep our homes and businesses running smoothly and comfortably. The cost of utilities can be significant, but there are ways to save on your monthly bill. By using energy-efficient appliances, adjusting your thermostat, and shopping around for service providers, you can lower your utility costs.

That’s all folks, we hope that ‘What are utilities?’ is no longer a dilemma!

FAQ

What do utilities include in Ontario?

Utilities in Ontario typically include water, sewer, electricity, and gas. However, depending on your service provider and location, other services such as trash and recycling, home security, and technology may also be included.

Does the rent include utilities in Ontario?

Rent in Ontario does not typically include utilities. However, some landlords may offer to include utilities in the rent price. It is important to check with your landlord before signing a lease to see if utilities are included.

Is internet usually included in utilities?

No, internet is not typically included in utilities. However, some service providers may offer discounts if you bundle your internet service with other utilities.

Are Telecommunications considered a utility?

Telecommunications is not typically considered a utility. However, depending on your service provider and location, it may be included in your utility package.

How do I know what utilities to set up?

The best way to determine what utilities you need is to contact your local service providers. They will be able to help you set up the services you need for your home or business.

What does ‘plus utilities’ mean?

It means that the utilities are not included in the rent price. In this situation, the landlord asks of you to pay your monthly rent plus the utilities.

What are utilities in rent?

If you find an apartment ad that says ‘utilities in rent’, it means that the monthly cost of utilities is already calculated and added to the price of your rent.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When Angela combined her deep-seated love for linguistics with her growing interest for finance and money management, she struck a gold mine. She’s scoured the internet far and wide for all things related to money and finances, including payments, budgeting and investing. Now she’s eager to share her knowledge and skills with the world, determined to make it a better place. In her free time, she loves to read a good book.

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