You’ll Pay Less for Utilities if You Live in These Cities

According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, utilities average $168.30 a month. But there are a lot of places you can conserve your monthly payments.

Determining the cheapest cities for utilities

We took cost of living data and ranked 256 cities on affordability for energy services with 1 being the most affordable and 256 being the most expensive.

So, what are the most affordable cities for utilities in America? Spoiler alert: Two are in Louisiana, but there’s plenty of energy savings to be had throughout the country.

10. Boise, ID

Boise ID

When the mercury rises in Boise, it’s not uncommon to find locals hitting the water for a leisurely float along the Boise River. You can rent a canoe, raft or tube and enter with the best of them in Barber Park.

Speaking of water: Kids will love the Boise WaterShed, a free museum at West Boise Water Renewal Facility. A Can Man sculpture composed entirely of aluminum cans recovered from the Boise River sets the tone with several interactive lessons and demonstrations on energy conservation. Outside, you can explore an impressive collection of public art, including a pipe tree and a giant depiction of the water molecule.

It’s the perfect tribute to a city virtually run on water. Hydropower accounts for nearly half of Idaho Power’s energy portfolio, translating to some cost savings when it comes to utilities — about 17.4 percent lower than the national average. And for $1,078 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, you could call Boise home.

9. Reno-Sparks, NV

Reno NV

The third-largest city in Nevada and the “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno is a hub for tradeshows, gambling and mining. It also happens to house the National Automobile Museum.

There, you can peruse more than 200 vehicles — from 19th-century steam locomotives to 1960s-era speed racers — in street scenes that seemingly come to life. The collection, which belonged to Bill Harrah of the hotel-casino chain, includes the Beverly Hillbillies’ Rolls Royce and several of Elvis’ cars.

Just four miles away is Sparks where you can visit Scheels Sporting Goods. The world’s largest gear shop, Scheels is also home to a Ferris wheel, two 16,000-gallon fish tanks, bowling lanes, a shooting gallery, an indoor mountain of hundreds of mounted wildlife, a fudge shop and curiously, 14 wax replicas of presidents.

You can take it all in and call it home when you rent an apartment for just $1,173 a month on average. You’ll hit the jackpot when you factor in utilities from Truckee Meadows Water Authority and NV Energy, 17.9 percent lower than the rest of the nation.

8. Monroe, LA

Monroe LA

What do alligators and Coca-Cola have in common? They’re both a celebrated in Monroe. The largest city in Northeast Louisiana, Monroe is the home of Joseph A. Biedenharn, the first person to bottle the soda. His former mansion and its Coca-Cola museum are open for tours at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens.

Monroe is also home to Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where you can get up close, yet stay far enough away from protected alligators. You might even spy broad-banded water snakes, multiple frog types and bright yellow prothonotary warblers.

Make Monroe your home when you rent an apartment for $1,059 a month, the average for a one-bedroom. The region is served by Entergy Louisiana, LLC. And Monroe residents save 17.9 percent on utilities — key for those balmy Monroe summer nights.

7. Yakima, WA

Yakima WA

Yakima is the place to relish the romance of wine country. For a taste of the best of what Washington viniculture has to offer, visit the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. You can sample wines from each of Washington’s growing regions, attend a “Meet the Maker” series class or learn culinary skills like cheese-making.

If craft beer’s more your style, consider that 75 percent of the nation’s hops are grown in the Yakima Valley. Hop on over to the Hop Country Craft Brew Trail, where you can sample experimental brews right at the source, along with Northwest-inspired double IPAs, pale ales, fruity sours, barrel-aged stouts and fruit-infused ales.

Yakima has an average of 300 sunny days a year so locals can’t help but enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of opportunities for golfing, rock climbing, biking and fishing.

Additionally, hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers provide Washington state with some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. You’ll save 18.3 percent on utilities compared to the national average.

6. Hastings, NE

Hastings NE

Kool-Aid was invented here, and Hastings celebrates that event each August with the Kool-Aid Days festival. The event features the World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand (showcasing 20 flavors), a Kool-Aid-drinking contest, carnival games, cardboard-boat races and free concerts.

The town also happens to house the only Bigfoot Museum and Research Center. There, after coming face-to-face with alleged Sasquatch bones, photos and other artifacts, you might emerge a believer.

Hastings Utilities provides electricity, natural gas, water and sanitary sewer for a bargain, saving 18.3 percent compared to the national average.

5. Westminster, CO

Westminster CO

A northern suburb of Denver, Westminster is a shopper’s paradise with a growing number of malls and shopping districts popping up downtown. One of the most popular spots is the outdoor Westminster Promenade, a favorite place for meet-ups at restaurants, catching a movie or concert or twirling about at a three-rink ice arena.

Meanwhile, outdoors-enthusiasts flock to Stanley Lake Regional Park, Denver’s third-largest reservoir. Stanley Lake is a haven for fishers, but it’s also an excellent place for wildlife sightings. Look out for bald eagles, red foxes, burrowing owls and mule deer.

Find yourself here for just $1,533 a month (the average price of a one-bedroom apartment). Xcel Energy serves the region, and you’ll save big on utilities: 21.4 percent lower than the national average.

4. Wenatchee, WA

Wenatchee WA

Wenatchee is a mountain gateway between Western Washington and agricultural areas of the eastern Columbia Plateau. The four-season destination also has 300 days of sun. No wonder everyone is outdoors.

Skiers love Mission Ridge, a local resort just 12 miles from Wenatchee known for its light dry powder, 2,000 acres of trails and a 2,250-foot vertical drop. Locals also bike, run, skate or walk the Apple Capital Loop Trail, 20-plus miles of paved path, which passes through parks, apple orchards and sand dunes and crosses the Columbia River.

Wenatchee is served by Chelan County PUD, which owns the nation’s second largest nonfederal, publicly owned hydroelectric generating system. You’ll score a 22.2 percent savings on utilities.

3. LaGrange-Troup County, GA

LaGrange GA

LaGrange is less than an hour away from Atlanta, but this LaGrange-Troup County seat is a world apart from the big-city bustle.

Head to West Point Lake for a day on the water. Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake extends 35 miles along the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line. It’s a hotspot for boating, fishing, camping and enjoying a family picnic.

Or, hit a brewery in historic downtown LaGrange. Wild Leap Brew Co., the city’s first brewery, is a favorite among locals, who gather at the outdoor beer garden overlooking a downtown plaza.

Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia provides power to LaGrange residents. And water is supplied by the City of LaGrange through the raw water resources of the Chattahoochee River and West Point Lake Reservoir.

As a resident, you can enjoy the perks of living just close enough to the big city while relishing saving on utilities (23.6 percent lower than the national average) and rent ($795 a month for the average one-bedroom).

2. Lake Charles, LA

Lake Charles LA

The festival capital of Louisiana, Lake Charles is home to more than a hundred festivals, including the Louisiana Pirate Festival, formally known as Contraband Days. This largest festival in the state draws some 200,000 people with highlights including races (bed races, bathtub races, crawfish races and a regatta), Cajun food, cannon demonstrations, music and activities for families.

Naturally, with this being Louisiana, Mardi Gras is also big on the list of festivals. You can learn more about the history of the big event when you tour the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. There, you’ll encounter colorful costumes and knowledgeable guides who share stories behind customs and tradition.

Let the good times roll and consider Lake Charles home. You’ll pay just $918 on average for a one-bedroom apartment. The city is served by regional Entergy Louisiana, LLC., and you’ll save big on utilities – 24.7 percent less than the national average.

1. Edmond, OK

Edmond OK

Located north of Oklahoma City on legendary Route 66, Edmond has a small-town feel with easy access to the metropolis. And there are plenty of fun roadside attractions.

Take, for example, the Arcadia Round Barn. Built in 1898 to withstand Oklahoma’s tornadoes, it holds the distinction of being the only truly round barn on Route 66.

There’s also Pops in neighboring Arcadia. This 66-foot soda bottle invites you to pop in and take your pick of 700 flavors of soda. Finally, consider moseying on down to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum just south of Edmond. There, you’ll find the world’s most extensive collection of American rodeo photographs, trophies, saddlery and memorabilia from the John Wayne estate.

You can explore as often as you like when you visit as a local. Rent runs just $763 a month (the average for a one-bedroom apartment). And utilities are 25.6 percent less than the national average through Edmond Electric, a member of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA), which relies on wind, hydroelectric, natural gas and coal.

Conserving dollars on another 40: The full list

Whether you’re blasting the AC in the South for hot, muggy days or turning up the heat in the Midwest for frigid winters, there are plenty of places where you can save big utilities.

Here’s the remainder of the top 50 rankings of the most affordable utility cities in America (and also more in Louisiana).

RankCity/County StateCost Below to National Average
1Edmond OK-25.6%
2Lake Charles LA-24.7%
3LaGrange-Troup County GA-23.6%
4Wenatchee WA-22.2%
5Westminster CO-21.4%
6Hastings NE-18.3%
7Yakima WA-18.3%
8Monroe LA-17.9%
9Reno-Sparks NV-17.9%
10Boise ID-17.4%
11New Orleans LA-17.0%
12Twin Falls ID-16.9%
13Las Cruces NM-16.8%
14Denver CO-16.4%
15Bozeman MT-16.1%
16Kokomo IN-15.5%
17Mount Vernon-Skagit County WA-15.4%
18Bellingham WA-15.2%
19Provo-Orem UT-15.1%
20Baton Rouge LA-14.7%
21Tampa FL-14.3%
22Atlanta GA-14.3%
23Shreveport-Bossier City LA-14.2%
24Tacoma WA-13.9%
25Grand Junction CO-13.8%
26Blacksburg VA-13.7%
27Bullhead City AZ-13.6%
28Tallahassee FL-13.6%
29Findlay OH-13.6%
30Columbus OH-13.1%
31Ogden UT-13.1%
32Conway AR-12.8%
33Laramie WY-12.7%
34Marshfield WI-12.4%
35Jonesboro AR-12.3%
36Joliet-Will County IL-12.2%
37Tupelo MS-12.2%
38San Antonio TX-12.1%
39Salt Lake City UT-12.1%
40Portland OR-12.0%
41Hammond LA-11.9%
42Moses Lake WA-11.9%
43Davenport-Moline-Rock Is IA-IL-11.4%
44Lubbock TX-11.2%
45Chattanooga TN-11.1%
46Morgantown WV-11.0%
47Detroit MI-10.7%
48Amarillo TX-10.5%
49Waterloo-Cedar Falls IA-10.4%
50Memphis TN-10.3%

Flipping the switch: The 10 most expensive cities

What does it take to make the most expensive list? Several factors play a role in utility costs, including population density and distances traveled along the power grid, which explains two Alaskan cities and Honolulu.

Here’s where you’ll pay extra for your energy needs.

RankCity/County StateCost Above the National Average
1Fairbanks AK110.5%
2Honolulu HI72.7%
3Corpus Christi TX40.7%
4Bakersfield CA40.0%
5Surprise AZ35.3%
6New Haven CT30.3%
7Juneau AK29.0%
8Hartford CT27.2%
9Stamford CT26.7%
10Columbia SC24.8%

Methodology

Average prices for utilities come from the Council for Community and Economic Research‘s Q1 2019 Cost of Living report. The C2ER uses the following specifications to describe utilities:

  • Total home energy cost
  • Electricity
  • Other home energy
  • Telephone

We ranked each city and county in the C2ER report in terms of affordability for utilities, with the cheapest being 1 and the most expensive as 256. The cities with the lowest overall scores were determined to be the most affordable.

The rent information included in this article is based on August 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. Cities without rental prices indicate insufficient rental data in our inventory. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Header Photo by Fré Sonneveld on Unsplash
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Lindsay MorrisLindsay Morris is a Los Angeles-based writer. An outdoors enthusiast and former travel editor, Morris has trekked the Inca Trail, paddled the Bay of Fundy, jumped off the southernmost point of the U.S., toured the Amazon and skied with Olympian Picabo Street. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Shape, Advertising Age, Chicago Tribune and Forks Over Knives. Morris is a Marquette University graduate and has previously called Milwaukee and New York home.

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