Utility Bills on the Rise — How To Budget for Increases

Inflation is not only affecting gas prices, but it’s also having an adverse effect on America’s utility bills. As everyday costs are on the rise, consumers are feeling the pressure of higher-than-usual grocery prices, water expenses and electricity bills. To gain some insight into how utility price increases are affecting Americans, GOBankingRates conducted a survey to discover how much prices are increasing and which categories are being hit the hardest by inflation.

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Keep reading to find out survey details and financial experts’ recommendations for the best ways to budget for these price upticks.

78% of Americans Are Seeing Utility Bill Increases

According to a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 78% of Americans are facing rising household utility bills while 22% of Americans are not.

While the exact cost increase varies, 41% of respondents claimed their utility bills increased from $0 to $25 and 21% stated an increase of between $26 and $40. Additionally, 12% are experiencing an increase between $41 and $55 and 9% saw an increase between $56 and $70. Few Americans saw a major price hike in their utility bill as a mere 4% are experiencing an increase between $71 and $85, 5% witnessed an increase of between $86 and $100 and 7% stated an increase of over $100.

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Take Our Poll: Are You Struggling To Keep Up With Your Utility Bills?

45% of Americans Are Experiencing Higher Electricity Costs

When examining which expense is rising the most for households, our survey revealed rising electricity costs are affecting Americans more than other utilities as 45% stated they were facing higher costs in this category. Additionally, 23% of respondents stated their grocery bill was on the rise and 11% are facing higher gas expenses. The categories that seem to be defending against the rising costs include water, mortgage/rent and internet as each of these categories received less than 6% of respondents stating their rates increased.

How To Budget For Utility Cost Increases

As household bills are on the rise, GOBankingRates asked Americans what expenses are the hardest to plan for each month. According to the survey, 37% of Americans find groceries the hardest to plan for each month and 33% find electricity/gas the hardest to plan for. Easier expenses to plan for include car payments, internet and water as these categories received less than 10% of respondents stating these expenses were the hardest to plan for.

Due to increased household expenses, 74% of Americans have had to adjust their monthly budget to accommodate these costs.

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In light of higher bills, let’s take a look at some simple ways to approach budgeting during this period of inflation and some painless ways to cut back on costs.

Focus on Needs, Not Wants

Stick to your budget and eliminate unnecessary expenses in order to keep track of your spending and ensure you have your financial priorities in line.

“We each need to get better at budgeting and focus on our needs versus wants,” Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP, founder of Childfree Wealth. “Food costs are up, so that means our dining out needs to go down. Groceries have gotten more expensive, but are still considerably cheaper than eating out (or ordering in). Groceries are a need, and dining out is a want.”

Cut Back on Energy Use

Lower your monthly electricity bill by making some small changes to eliminate excess energy use and consider switching to more energy-efficient products to further cut costs.

Devices that stay plugged in at all times, such as a computer or gaming consoles, use electricity even when they are not actively in use. Remember to unplug these devices when they are changed or not being used to save on costs. Additionally, be sure to turn off ceiling fans and lights when you leave the room to avoid spending on overused overhead lighting. Finally, consider switching to LED energy-efficient light bulbs to cut back on monthly fees as these bulbs use less energy and have a longer lifespan.

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Make Your Daily Latte at Home

This advice can be a bit played out, but in a situation where you’re facing extra costs under $100, it can be helpful. Spending $5 on a latte every day adds up. Let’s say you buy a $5 latte five days a week, that’s $25 per week and $100 per month. And that likely doesn’t include the amount you’re spending buying lunch throughout the month.

Consider making your coffee at home and bringing lunch to work to make some easy changes that will add up to major savings over time. Cutting back while prices are high could easily help you pay the extra expense on your utilities. And then if prices go back down, you can switch back to having a coffee or lunch out here and there.

Eliminate Unused Subscriptions

Staying subscribed to unwanted or unused subscriptions is a major money-sucker. Feel some immediate financial relief by taking a look at all the monthly expenses you’re subscribed to and eliminating the ones you no longer need. You might also want to consider incorporating a rotational system for the subscriptions you love so that you can cut back on monthly expenses without feeling the permanent loss of a service.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,003 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country between September 19 and September 21, 2022, asking eight different questions: (1) Have you seen a rise in your household utility bills? (electric, gas, water); (2) How much has your household utility bills (electric, water, gas) gone up each month?; (3) Which expense is rising the most for your household?; (4) Which expense is the hardest to plan for each month?; (5) Have you had to adjust your monthly budget due to rising household bills?; (6) How often do you shop at a dollar store (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.)?; (7) If there was an additional stimulus check, what would you primarily use it for?; and (8) If you received student loan forgiveness, how will you use this extra money each month?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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