In office leasing, what are the differences between cost, price, rate, charge? I have so far experienced all of them: utility rate, utility cost, utility rate, utility charge, electricity charge, electricity rate, etc. Which are the most accepted and professional ones?
Thank you for your time.

All of the expressions you have given are accepted and used in professional contexts. I suspect that you can use them correctly- you must have seen lots of correct examples. Let me try to shed some light on the subtle differences between their meanings.

Services to any home or office are called UTILITY SERVICES. Sometimes you have to pay UTILITY CHARGES, other times they are the landlord’s responsibility. On your UTILITY BILLS you can see how much you are CHARGED for the use of the utilities. The charges are based on RATES.
the amount of money you need in order to buy or do something (noun)
something costs a particular amount money- you have to pay that amount if you want to buy it (verb)

  • We barely make enough money to cover the rental costs.
  • A new air-conditioning system has been installed at a cost of two thousand pounds.
  • The rent costs us about one thousand pounds a month.

the amount of money you have to pay for something (noun)
give a price to something (verb)

  • I managed to get a good price for the flat.
  • Rents has come down in price over the past few years.
  • They charge a reasonable price for the use of the communal garden.
  • Gas prices have risen- our gas bill will soar.

a fixed amount of money that has to be paid for something (noun)

  • We offer reduced rates for students.
  • They offer the best rates for local calls.
  • We offer fixed-rate electricity contracts.
  • Electricity rates vary for residential and commercial customers.

the amount of money that somebody asks for goods or service (noun)
ask for an amount of money for goods or services (verb)

  • You may use our facilities free of charge.
  • Is there a charge for parking there?
  • They’re charging ten pounds a month for the use of the lift.

PRICE is often used when talking about objects you can buy: house prices, the price of bread. However, you can say ‘the price of electricity/ electricity prices’ or ‘oil prices’ which doesn’t seem to fit this pattern.
On the other hand, COST is usually used when talking about services or processes: the cost of getting a Master’s Degree, the cost of delivery with insurance.
CHARGE is used when talking about using things or services: electricity charges, bank charges.
I hope it’s not too confusing. I would appreciate any comments if someone can think of an easier way to explain it 🙂


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