Investing in large-scale energy efficiency improvements isn’t exactly feasible for renters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to decrease your energy consumption and save money. Making smart choices can reduce your annual utility bill by as much as 30 percent and improve the comfort of your apartment or house in the process. Here are some small changes that deliver a big impact.
Window shades and draperies do more than just improve the appearance of a room – they can increase energy efficiency as well. Lined or insulated window treatments can help limit heat loss through the windows in the winter, and block the sun’s radiation in the summer. Just be sure to keep heating and cooling vents clear for proper circulation (and that goes for furniture as well).
Keep Baseboard Heaters, Warm-Air Registers, and Radiators Clean
By cleaning heat distribution registers periodically, you’ll ensure that dust, pet hair, and other debris doesn’t compromise heat circulation. Most can be cleaned with a vacuum using a brush attachment.
Talk to Your Landlord About a Programmable Thermostat
Ask your landlord if they would be willing to install a programmable or smart thermostat. Even an inexpensive model can save money by automatically lowering the temperature at night while you’re asleep or during the day when you’re at work or school.
Limit Standby Electric Consumption
Computers, tablets, TVs, and other small appliances pull current even in standby mode. Plugging your electronics into a smart power strip will minimize phantom energy consumption, and protect your devices from power surges.
Approximately 25% of the electricity used in most American homes is consumed while the product is in standby mode.
Seal Outlets and Switches
For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can limit the effects of heat loss through electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls. Foam gaskets can be purchased at any home improvement store and installed in minutes with just a screwdriver.
Switch to Energy-Efficient LED Light Bulbs
Swapping LEDs for incandescent light bulbs can have a significant impact on your energy consumption, as they use between 80 and 90 percent less electricity. There are more bulb styles available than ever before, as well as color options that range from cool to warm, depending on the application.
Clean Refrigerator Coils
Even new kitchen appliances consume a lot of electricity, but an occasional vacuuming of the condenser coils on your refrigerator can reduce energy consumption, improve efficiency, and extend the appliance’s lifespan. Twice a year is recommended, but those with pets may benefit by more frequent cleaning. While you’re at it, wipe down the door gasket seals with warm water and a sponge to keep the cold air where it belongs.
- Appliances and electronics work more efficiently when they’re clean, and higher efficiency results in lower costs for renters.
- Keep your landlord apprised of any issues – a leaky hot water faucet or pipe can increase both water and energy consumption and cause lasting property damage.
- ENERGY STAR estimates that a programmable thermostat, when used properly, can save between 10 and 30 percent on your energy bill.