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Be Prepared For Rising Monthly Utility Costs in Central Iowa

Attention Homebuyers!

Soaring energy costs in our state are going to be impacting your monthly utility bill when it comes to Natural Gas & Electricity, especially as we move into the month of February when we typically see out coldest temps.

As a REALTOR®, I have the ability to access a special log in at MidAmerican Energy to obtain the average energy cost for a property. In the past, it was a good benchmark of what you as a homebuyer could expect to pay for local gas & electric utilities. In most cases, you have the option of paying your actual gas & electric bill in full each month or going on a budget billing plan where the payment is adjusted to a rolling average amount that lets you keep your monthly payment consistent and avoid the spikes in the winter from high natural gas usage and spikes in the summer from high electric usage from air conditioners running for days on end.

What has changed and what has just became a concern to me is with the rise in natural energy costs due to Covid-19, recent weather events around the country that interrupted supply availability (Hurricane Ida last August for example) and global demand for liquefied natural gas, Central Iowans are seeing HUGE increases in the actual cost of gas & electric. (Primarily natural gas).

MidAmerican Energy website has a detailed article on these impacts and it can be accessed at

How big of a change are we in for?

I checked my MidAmerican Energy bill for this month (January 2022) and decided to compare it to January of 2021. I am on budget billing and as mentioned above, I will occasionally receive notice from MidAmerican Energy that my budget billing amount is changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, but normally only by a small percentage. I like the consistency of paying the same amount each month versus paying higher in the peak months.

This is what I discovered

The top panel is from January 2021 and bottom from January 2022. My eyes initially went directly to the Total at the bottom of each year. This is only for the Natural Gas portion of my utility bill and I’ve blurred out my meter number. Obviously comparing the cost of usage year over year is a moving target. The billing period for 2021 was 32 days, while it was 31 days in 2022. Outside temperatures also changed the amount of natural gas I used during each monthly example – the word “Therms” is the unit of measurement for natural gas.

The actual cost change is the Gas Supply Charge from each year and this is where the increase is going to be felt most.

The cost of natural gas in 2021 was (rounded) 23.1¢ per Therm compared to 85.1¢ per Therm in 2022. That’s a 62¢ increase from this time last year per unit of natural gas. Of course January of 2022 experienced unseasonably colder temps and this is why we used 182 Therms this year vs 150 Therms last.

What’s the big deal? I’m on Budget Billing!

It’s true, my bill this month (for January 2022) is only $193.00 which is my budget billing amount. But remember, my actual cost for natural gas alone was $223.81 and that doesn’t include my electric portion of my January bill of $103.10.

So if I were not on budget billing, my total gas & electric bill for January would have been $326.91. That is $133.91 more than my budge billing. I can say without any doubt, my budget billing amount is going to go up in the near coming months to make up for this amount and also what will likely be an equally higher actual cost billing month for February.

What’s my point in all of this?

Do not rely solely on budget billing amounts for your utility costs when making a buying decision this year. Yes, I’m learning this as well and will begin to ask for copies of full utility bills or amounts from homeowners and/or their agents when a homebuyer is asking about utility costs.

In my example above, a homebuyer on a tight budget may want to factor in the actual cost of utilities vs the budget billing amounts. My personal budget billing is likely to rise by at least $11/month at the next adjustment period. ($133.91 divided by 12).

Be an informed and inquisitive Home Buyer. It pays to work with an experienced and knowledgeable REALTOR® when buying a home.

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~Les Sulgrove, Vice President

If you are interested in selling your home or purchasing a home, give me a call! I will help you determine your best strategy based on your local market data.

About Les Sulgrove

Les is an Iowa native born in Des Moines and raised in the southwest Iowa town of Bridgewater. He has been a resident of Des Moines since 1982 and has been married to his wife Linda for over 35 years. Together they have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and make their home on Des Moines south side. He has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1990 and is Vice President at VIA Group, REALTORS®. Les is the 2011 Past President of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) and received the award of Salesperson of the Year by DMAAR in 2007 for his involvement and service to the Association. Additionally, he is active at the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and serves on local, state and national committees. He also owns and operates the national technology networking group CyberProfessionals. This group of real estate professionals meets twice annually across the United States to learn from each other and share new marketing ideas with heavy emphasis on current and future technologies and their use in the real estate business. Les’ hobbies include golf, photography and sarcastic humor. He and Linda spend many Saturday mornings from Spring to Fall at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market. He enjoys spoiling his grandchildren at every opportunity.

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