5 Energy Saving Tips For Renters
By Joel McDonald
If you rent your home or live in an apartment, you may feel that there's not a lot you can do to keep your energy costs under control. Apartment buildings are notorious for being very inefficient. Since the building owner doesn't pay the energy bills, they don't have any incentive, except where building codes require it, to install energy saving equipment. As a renter, you generally have no incentive to install energy saving equipment in your home or apartment. There are, however, some exceptions to this, and you can always optimize the equipment that you're stuck with so that it runs as efficiently as possible. Let's take a look at some of the ways that you can save money on your energy costs as a renter.
Programmable thermostats are an excellent way to slash 10-15% off of your heating and cooling bills. They generally cost between $50 and $100 and will come with installation instructions. If you're not comfortable doing the installation yourself, have a competent friend or an electrician do it for you. Remember to save the old thermostat. You will need to reinstall it when you move out. Once you've installed the new thermostat, program it to match your daily routine. At times when you're not at home, the thermostat can adjust the temperature up in the summer, or down in winter. While you're at it, try changing you typical settings. Perhaps you can be just as comfortable with the AC set to 78 degrees as 72 degrees. You can save even more money this way.
Lighting is an area where you have almost complete control over your energy use. Besides conserving energy by turning off unneeded lights, you can install energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in the lamps and fixtures in your home. CFLs use about 25% of the energy that incandescent bulbs use. They also produce a lot less heat, so during the summer cooling season they will help keep you living space at a more comfortable temperature, without the need to more air conditioning.
Low flow showerhead
Low flow showerheads are an inexpensive way to save money on your water and water heating bills. You can probably find one for $15 or less at your local home improvement store. They take minutes to install. Don't forget to put the old showerhead in a safe place (keep it with that old thermostat you replaced) so that you can reinstall it when you move out.
Adjust your Water heater
If you have access to your water heater, take a look at its temperature setting. If it is set above 120 degrees you should turn it down. Heating the water any higher just wastes energy and increases the risk of scalding burns. Most water heaters have a "vacation" setting. Use this feature when you're away from home for more than a few days. Leave yourself a reminder to turn the heat back up when you get home.
Maintain Your Furnace and Air Conditioner
You don't have any control over what make and model of air conditioner or furnace you have in your apartment. You can make a safe bet that they are probably old and inefficient. Heating and cooling costs are the single biggest part of your energy bill so even little steps that you take can save you money. If you have access to your furnace and air conditioner, take the time and effort to maintain these pieces of equipment. Change your furnace filter every few months during the heating season. Regular inspections will give you a sense for how often the filter needs changing. Do the same for your air conditioner. If you are renting a home and your AC unit is exposed to direct sunlight, make a shade for it. Your AC condenser will run more efficiently at lower temperatures.