Cost of Utilities: 2013 vs 2014

Hope everyone had a happy new year!

Now that the holiday season is over, it's time for everyone to get their finances in order for tax season.

If you're like me, your finances are already in order. You just need the tax receipts and forms to be delivered.

In addition to waiting for tax receipts in the mail, I have also done some analysis on our spending in 2014 compared to 2013.

One thing that stands out is that our gas expense is down. In 2013, we spent $1,796.16 on gas. In 2014, we spent $1,299.65.

That's a difference of $496.51.

That's almost $500! So why the big drop? Well, there's a few reasons I can think of. The first one is that my father-in-law only spent 5 months with us in 2014. Without him driving around as much, that's a huge drop for fuel consumption.

The second reason I can think of is the life style change wifey and I adopted by biking for our groceries on the weekends. Rather than drive to every grocery store in our area, we biked to certain grocery stores to get the essentials and pick up sale items.

The third reason is the dropping price of oil. As of yesterday, oil prices dropped below $48 a barrel. In the GTA, gas prices dropped again and is now settled at around 92 cents a litre. This is the lowest price for gasoline, at least as far as I can remember, in 5 years.

Well what about the other utilities?

Our natural gas cost increased from $867.11 in 2013 to $950.75 in 2014. Yikes! That's an increase of $83.64 or 9%. Why is that? Well, last winter was the year of the crazy ice storm and abnormally chilly winter. It was so bad terms like polar vortex and ice quakes became ubiquitous in the GTA. It was so cold here, the natural gas company charged with distributing natural gas to everyone, ran out of natural gas. As a result, they were forced to buy natural gas from the open market. By that time, natural gas prices were at record highs. Oops.

Well, in order to recoup their losses, the natural gas company has increased their rates for natural gas by 15%! Wait... they are increasing their prices by 15% but we've only seen an increase of 9% compared to the previous year? Surely, that means we've used less natural gas. As it turns out, that is the case.

Finally, our bill for water and hydro. In our area, the same company handles both. So we get one bill for both. In 2013, we spent $1,119.07 for water and hydro. In 2014, we spent $1,232.96, an increase of $113.89. Luckily for me (and you), they itemize the bill so I'm able to break thing down even further. For water, we spent $386.79 in 2013 and $450.16 in 2014, a 16% increase. For hydro, we spent $732.28 in 2013 and $782.80 in 2014, a 6% increase.

The hydro could be explained by a rate hike. They are always increasing their rates for hydro in Ontario. That doesn't explain the increase in water. Although, they did increase the rates for water, I don't think they increased them by 16%. Turns out, we used a lot more water than we did in 2013. I have a theory for that. Seems during his time with us, my father-in-law has developed a green thumb. When he wasn't inside watching television, he was outside tending to his garden. It wasn't just flowers and shrubs, but vegetables as well.... and when I say vegetables, it is mainly tomatoes.

I did the math when I noticed the increase. The increase compared to the previous year during the summer months was around $30. Considering the amount of tomatoes we harvested, I feel we definitely have $30 worth. We still have a few more bags of tomatoes in the freezer.

In short, because of the falling gas prices and lower car usage, our total cost of utilities went down in 2014 compared to 2013 ($298.98 lower). If you don't include gas and just count natural gas, water, and hydro, our total cost of utilities went up $197.53 in 2014 compared to 2013.

Here's hoping the cost for utilities don't skyrocket in 2015.


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