Utilities Costs or other Surprise Living Expenses In Albany

Hi folks, I am doing cost of living comparisons for Berkeley and Albany.

(1) PGE: yes, PGE bill costs are dependent on home size, appliances, upgrades, etc., but how much are folks in Albany spending on PGE in the winter months? I'm currently in Oakland, and my PGE bill for an old 1,500 square foot craftsman home with single pane windows and lath/plaster walls (we run space heaters, not the central heat) is roughly $180/month in the winter. 

(2) What about Waste Management's total monthly bill? Looks like the cost of a 32-gallon container (trash?) is $44.84, but how much is a recycling bin? Are recycling services integrated into your property tax bill?  

(3) EBMUD (Water/Sewer): I saw the sewage and water use rates on the EBMUD website, but what do folks in Albany spend monthly? 

Is there anything else I'm missing related to these services in Albany? 

Sincerely, your super-budget-conscious neighbor

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Hello! My Albany house has double paned windows, energy efficient appliances, and is 2500 square feet with 4 people living in it and we have a gas HVAC and we pay about $120-140 in winter months. I turn off the heater during the night and keep it pretty cool in the house. I have figured out that our bill is mostly due to clothes dryer costs based on my smart meter. My last Waste Management bill was $137.52 and they collect every 3 months. They only charge for garbage and recycle and compost are listed as $0 on the bill. I called a few years ago and I have the smallest garbage bin size. We're paying about $115 every two months for EBMUD for a family of four. Our family does not qualify for any special plans for low income, nor do we have an electric vehicle to get us special PGE rates. Hope that helped!

In Albany, the fee for refuse collection includes weekly collection landfill, recycling, and organics (yard and kitchen waste), all by Waste Management on the same day. There are several rate tiers, based on the size landfill can you use; to get one of the smaller sizes, you have to apply, but it's straightforward. Our family of three uses the smallest size (10 gallon "micro-cart"), and never fills it. We pay around $55-$60 (I think it depends on how many weeks there are in the quarter) for three months of weekly pick-up of all three bins.  The recycling bin is 64 gallon, but I think the amount is basically unlimited.  There is a standard green can size (64 gal), but if you regularly have a lot of yard waste, you can request a larger one (96 gal.) at no extra charge.

We have solar panels which generate all of our electricity needs, but our gas bill (gas-furnace, storage water heater and range) for split level house, around 1899 sq. ft., was around $125/month last winter (note that we have all double pane windows, and keep the house fairly cool.) I expect the bill will be higher this year with all of us home all day!  Our most recent gas bill (before starting the furnace for the winter) was $22.

Our most recent EBMUD bill  (two months) was a little over $140, which is higher than our usual; I think I must have watered my vegetable garden a lot.

Hope that helps!

I don't know of any reason that the PG&E bill would be different in Albany than it is in Berkeley or Oakland, but my winter bills are around $200 to $250 per month. That's for a family of four in an old 1200 sf house with gas heating and gas range.

Waste Management, inconveniently, does not bill monthly, but every 3 months.  I finally put the dang thing on credit card autopay so that I don't have to keep track of whether I should have a bill in any given month.  It's $130-something per bill, so your $44 figure sounds right.  That includes garbage, recycling, and green/organic waste bins.  The recycling and green bins are just included along with the 32 gal garbage can.

EBMUD also does not bill monthly, and they charge a fee for credit card autopay, which annoys me NO END, but that bill is about $118 every 2 months, so call it $60/mo. Again, that's for a family of four.  

Albany has passed a lot of parcel taxes to support schools, libraries, emergency services, etc., etc., so you definitely want to be aware of that if you're buying here, but there are no utility usage charges included on the tax bill.

One other thing to think about, though I think it's a relatively small amount, is that the city taxes on your telecom bills will change when you change your address.  The total rate, of course, is highly dependent on what services and carriers you use for phone, internet, tv.

Here is the link to view current Waste Management rates (monthly rates are shown, but billed every three months) based different size garbage/landfill cans. 

https://www.albanyca.org/home/showdocument?id=44552

 I think the person who said they had the smallest size, but is paying over $130/month should review their bill; they probably have the 20-gal, rather than the smallest 10-gallon, which requires submitting a very easy application form: https://www.albanyca.org/home/showdocument?id=17722 

They do not charge a fee for auto=pay through a bank/checking account.

Wow, thank you, all. Very helpful.