Electric power in San Francisco is produced from either traditional fossil fuels or renewable energy systems. However, all San Francisco electricity is transmitted over equipment owned by PG&E.
Power customers in the area wanting to support renewable energy programs have options. Several companies around San Francisco produce renewable energy that is transmitted to customers on PG&E equipment. These include CleanPowerSF, Clearway Energy, and others.
Redditors report that most renewable energy costs are similar to slightly above fossil fuel energy costs, but they have a separate charge for transmission on their monthly bill from PG&E.
Pre-setup utility checklist
- Review lease for utility clauses: It’s common for rentals in San Francisco to include utilities, such as water or gas, in the lease. Be sure to understand how utilities are billed for rental dwellings, including shared or master meter services.
- Check unit for existing or transfer services: Avoid an unnecessary service outage by transferring utility service from a previous customer to yourself, instead of requesting a new service, even for new construction.
- Identify electrical, water, and gas equipment at your home: Knowing the location of the electric meter, circuit breaker panel, water meter, water shutoff, and gas meter can help speed repair work should you need it. Knowing where the water shutoff is in your home is critical if you have a pipe burst. This step only takes a few minutes but can save you lots of trouble in an emergency.
Typical utility costs in San Francisco
Renters with smaller apartments can expect to pay $250-$650 per month for all utilities, excluding internet. Lease agreements with some or all utilities included will change this estimate, and renters with utilities included in their monthly rent need to understand how their utility costs are calculated.
Small to medium-sized single-family homes (under 2000 sq ft) can expect to pay $450-$1000 per month for all utilities, excluding internet. Higher utility costs can be expected for larger homes or during cold weather events.
Keep in mind that a household’s utility costs can vary widely for several reasons.
|Higher Utility Costs||Lower Utility Costs|
|Electric car charging at home without regard to time of day||No electric car charging at home or electric rate plan selected for electric car charging|
|Thermostat set at 64 degrees or lower, minimizing use of heating systems||Thermostat set to 65 degrees or running heat often to maintain a higher indoor temperature|
|No renewable energy sources available to the home||Homes with solar panels or other renewable energy sources|
|Irrigation in use||No irrigation in use/xeriscaping|
|Older home or rental structure with poor insulation or lacking energy-efficient appliances||Newer home or rental structure with excellent insulation and energy-efficient appliances installed|
|Older home or rental structure lacking modern plumbing and water-saving devices||Newer home or rental structure equipped with water-saving devices|
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) produces power using traditional fossil fuels and transmits power over their equipment throughout the San Francisco area.
Renewable energy companies, such as CleanPowerSF and Clearway Energy, produce power for customers using solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources. CleanPowerSF, operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is the largest provider of clean power in the city.
However, since these companies do not have the equipment to transmit power to homes and businesses, customers pay a transmission surcharge to PG&E for use of their equipment.
How to sign up for PG&E electric service
To sign up for new electric service at PG&E, new customers will need the account holder’s social security number or government-issued ID, new service address, and new service start date. Existing customers can also log into their account to transfer service to a new address.
PG&E does not charge for starting or stopping an electric service.
A service request at a location previously served by PG&E can be entered as much as 60 days in advance. For new construction electric service, visit the Building and Renovation website.
How to sign up for CleanPowerSF electric service
To start electric service with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, call them at (415) 551-4720 between 8A-5P on weekdays, excluding holidays.
SFPUC may require a deposit of double your estimated bill, at least $100, which will be returned after a year of good payment history.
How much will the electric bill be?
PG&E customers in small apartments can expect monthly electric bills of $75-$200 per month, while customers in larger single-family homes can expect monthly bills of $150-$400 per month or more. Customers of renewable energy providers can expect to pay about 5% more for clean power.
Keep in mind that some residences may have both electric and natural gas services provided by PG&E, resulting in an overall larger monthly bill for the combined services. Renewable energy customers will have PG&E transmission surcharges as part of their monthly bill.
Cable & Internet
Xfinity is the primary cable internet provider locally. AT&T also has widespread fiber internet service.
Xfinity is best for most homes, especially those that want to bundle TV or mobile for additional discounts. It’s by far the cheapest local option.
AT&T is worth considering as an upgrade for internet-only customers. It costs around $25 per month more, but offers a multiple of the upload speed for home office use.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) provides natural gas to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Natural gas service is not available to all addresses, so you will need to verify service availability to your address first.
How to sign up for PG&E gas service
To sign up, be prepared with the account holder’s social security number or government-issued ID, new service address and new service start date. PG&E does not charge for starting or stopping service.
How much will the gas bill be?
Natural gas bills can vary depending on how many appliances use gas and how frequently they are used. For a home with multiple gas appliances, monthly bills can vary from $50-$150 a month for apartments and from $100-$250 a month for single-family houses.
During cold weather events, running heat will temporarily increase monthly bills due to higher demands.
Also, as indicated above, sometimes PG&E will provide both electric and natural gas service to a home. These customers can expect combined billing from PG&E.
Water and sewer services are provided by the San Francisco Water Power Sewer, a division of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
How to set up water and sewer service in San Francisco
To start water and sewer service with San Francisco, call them at (415) 551-3000 between 8A-5P on weekdays, excluding holidays.
SFPUC requires a deposit of double your estimated bill, at least $50, which will be returned with interest after a year of good payment history.
How much will the water and sewer bill be?
Monthly water and sewer bills in San Francisco range from $50-$150 per month for apartments and $75-$150 for single-family homes.
Garbage & Recyling
Garbage and recycle services, also known as solid waste services, are provided by private companies such as Recology. The City of San Francisco does not offer these services to residents.
How to set up garbage and recycling service in San Francisco
Visit Recology’s contact page here to start identifying your service provider, since there are several locations in the city.
Also visit their Compost, Recycle, and Landfill page to learn more about their services and to help choose the smallest bin size to meet your needs while saving money each month.
How much will the garbage and recycling bill be?
Monthly garbage and recycling bills in San Francisco range from $30-$50 per month for most single-family homes. See the Recology rate schedule here.
Apartments or multi-dwelling units may have different pricing due to agreements between property managers and Recology and tenant lease agreements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the expected cost of utilities for an apartment in San Francisco?
Renters in San Francisco can expect to pay $250-$650 per month for utilities, excluding internet service. The total cost varies based on:
- What temperature the tenant keeps their dwelling
- How often the tenant uses heat, especially during cold weather
- Which electrical rate plan the tenant choses, i.e. time of use plan, 100% clean energy plan, etc.
What will it cost to start utilities at my new home?
Pacific Gas & Electric does not charge customers for starting service at a new address for either power or gas service.
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) requires a deposit of the estimated power cost for two months, at least $100, which is returned after one year of good payment history. SFPUC requires a deposit of the estimated water and sewer charges for two months, at least $50, which is returned after one year of good payment history as well.
What is the cost difference between fossil fuel energy and clean energy providers in San Francisco?
San Francisco consumer reviews suggest a 5% premium for clean energy as compared to the same amount of energy produced by burning fossil fuels.
Tiffanie Hawley has worked in the water treatment industry for nearly 20 years as a treatment plant operator, laboratory technician, regulatory consultant, and plant manager. She aims to educate readers about the scientific and human contributions that are part of producing and protecting drinking water.