The 10 States Where People Pay the Most for Utilities

iStock/tommaso79
iStock/tommaso79

Rent isn't the only housing cost you have to take into account when moving to a new place. Whether you live in a luxury home or a modest apartment, you're probably going to have to pay for utilities, too. Those expenses can vary quite a bit from state to state, thanks to infrastructure, natural resources, demand, weather, and regulations. But just how much?

As Thrillist spotted, Move.org compared average utility bills across all 50 states, discovering that costs can run anywhere from the $300s to more than $700 a month in bills for basic needs like electricity, natural gas, internet, cable, and water.

Across all 50 states, the average price for all those utilities was about $422 a month, though that number depends on usage and the level of services you buy. (It costs more to heat a giant mansion than a studio apartment, for instance, and high-speed internet costs more than smaller plans.) However, states outside the continental U.S., in the Northeast, and in parts of the South tend to pay much more than that for their utilities, while some Western states pay a bit less.

These are the 10 states that pay the most in utilities, on average.

1. Hawaii: $731 per month
2. Alaska: $528 per month
3. Rhode Island: $522 per month
4. Connecticut: $496 per month
5. New York: $477 per month
6. New Hampshire: $477 per month
7. South Carolina: $474 per month
8. Massachusetts: $469 per month
9. Vermont: $468 per month
10. Maine: $464 per month

New England's high bills are largely due to very high electricity prices caused in part by mandated clean energy requirements and geography. Much of the region relies on natural gas to generate electricity rather than cheaper coal, and since that natural gas has to be imported from other regions, that drives up prices as well.

While it may make sense that electricity bills or heating costs might be high in a particular area, paying for internet plays a surprisingly large role in some other states' high utility bills. Alaskans pay more than $107 a month on average for a 60 Mbps connection, the highest in the nation. Rhode Island and South Carolina's bills are also inflated by high internet costs.

And these are the states that pay the least.

1. Idaho: $344 per month
2. Utah: $350 per month
3. Montana: $359 per month
4. Washington: $369 per month
5. Nevada: $377 per month
6. Louisiana: $381 per month
7. Oregon: $381 per month
8. South Dakota: $383 per month
9. Arkansas: $388 per month
10. Wisconsin: $391 per month

Inexpensive natural gas supplies are the main driver of low prices in these states. Louisiana, for instance, is one of the country's top suppliers of natural gas, as are Wyoming, Arkansas, and Utah.

Where does your state fall on the list? See the full rankings at Move.org with the breakdown of electricity, natural gas, internet, cable, and water costs state-by-state.

[h/t Thrillist]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]