Striking out on your own soon? It’s an exciting time, full of decisions you’ve never dealt with before, like shower curtains, grocery lists, coffee tables, and other issues.

If you’re new to the world of independence, you’re also figuring out a keystone piece of your new life: the budget.

Stuff costs money. It’s a lesson that many learn the second they start furnishing their first apartment. So learning to manage your money and spend it wisely is crucial to survival.

But when you’re running through your line items and estimating your monthly costs, there is one hidden cost that you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about: your electric bill.

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You have to plan for them - not paying your electric bill just is not an option. But this isn’t a fun bill, so we tend to not think much about it.

But before you sign that lease for your first one-bedroom apartment and move your bed and dresser, let’s take a look at the average costs for electricity in a one-bedroom apartment, along with ways we can keep it low.

This way, you can plan for all your rental expenses, and that energy bill won’t creep up on you when it comes in.

Because after all, the last thing you want is to sit in a cold, dark apartment because you couldn’t pay to keep the lights on.

How much will electricity cost per month for a one bedroom apartment?

Every month, you’ll get a statement from the utility company with a breakdown of your electricity usage. If you only have one utility company, then your electric bill will be combined with your heating bill. But for the sake of our discussion, let’s just talk about electricity.

In a one-bedroom apartment, your electric bill will likely stay around $30-$50 per month. That’s assuming you don’t use any air conditioning during this time period - so either you don’t use the A/C, or it’s winter. If that sounds like you, then this number will be fairly accurate.

Of course, that really depends on a number of factors. If you’re home more often, you will have a higher electric bill. If you work most of the day, then there will be long chunks of time when you won’t be using much electricity at all.

Watching television and having inefficient appliances are often two major culprits of a higher electricity bill. So is keeping too many lights on, but we’ll talk about those more in a moment.

What if my one-bedroom has air conditioning?

So let’s say you live in an area that will get really hot for at least part of the year, and you have landed the holy grail: an apartment with air conditioning.

Congratulations on your newfound comfort! But that comfort comes at a price.

Typically, you’ll pay another $250-$300 every year to keep the air conditioner running. But that isn’t spread out over the full twelve months, either. Some people won’t use it often at all, and others will use it several days a week. Still, others will run it hard during the hot summer months, but then back off for the rest of the year when it is cooler.

Usually, you’re going to run the A/C from about May until September, paying $50-$80 a month extra during that time period. Live in the South? Then your A/C will run harder and more often - more like $80-$90 per month - and will run for more months out of the year.

Air conditioning is great until you have to pay for it.

How can I keep these costs under control?

The good news is that these bills can be managed. You can’t use your apartment less and pay a lower rental rate. But you can dial down your electricity usage and enjoy big savings in the process.

Remember when your mom or dad scolded you for leaving lights on? There’s a reason for that: turning off lights is a really easy and effective way to knock off dollars from your electric bill.

You can also swap out your light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, turn off appliances that aren’t in use, and turn off the TV if you’re not watching it.

None of these are complicated or time-consuming tactics. But doing even a few of them could knock as much as 25% off your electric bill.

Your first apartment is an exciting step in moving to adulthood. Just keep in mind your electric bill, and try out some strategies for keeping it lower. Then you can fully enjoy your newfound freedom!