As a renter, there are many aspects of your apartment that are controlled by the property owner. However, there are still ways tenants can reduce monthly utility bills.
For starters, maximizing the efficiency of an apartment HVAC system is the best way to bring down monthly costs. Renters can support those efforts by implementing cost-saving measures in other aspects of their daily life. By being proactive with their HVAC and implementing these small changes, renters can make a significant impact on reducing their monthly utility bills.
The team at Home Heating & Cooling is always looking for ways to save you money. Here, we’ve made a list of 10 easy ways renters can reduce their apartment energy costs.
1. Clean Your Furnace Filter
The No. 1 thing tenants can do to lower apartment utility bills generated by their HVAC system is to regularly change the filter in their furnace or air conditioner. If you have access to your apartment’s furnace or air conditioning filter, it’s important to check the filter every 30 days. If the filter looks dirty, replace it with a new one. Although some filters can go longer than 30 days without being changed, it’s best not to go longer than 60-90 days. People who have pets will need to change their filters more often because filters trap pet hair.
Changing a furnace or AC filter lowers an apartment’s monthly energy bills because it helps the HVAC system function smoothly and efficiently. When the filters get clogged with dirt and debris, the system will have to work harder to force air through the filter. That causes the system to use more energy, which in turn costs tenants more money.
It’s also worth urging your landlord to invest in routine air conditioning maintenance in the spring and furnace maintenance in the fall. For those whose apartment uses a heat pump, it’s also important to have scheduled heat pump maintenance. These scheduled visits benefit the landlord by ensuring the equipment is in good working order and catching minor issues before they become major, expensive breakdowns. Routine HVAC maintenance benefits the tenant because an apartment HVAC unit that is in good working order can use less energy than one that has been neglected.
2. Adjust Your Thermostat Settings
Bumping your thermostat up a few degrees during the summer and a little lower during the winter can make a difference on your monthly bills. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78°F (25.5°C) in the summer when you're at home and raising it higher when you're away.
In the winter, setting the thermostat to around 68°F (20°C) when you're at home and lowering it further when you're away can help optimize energy efficiency. These slight adjustments can result in noticeable savings without sacrificing comfort.
3. Report HVAC Problems and Plumbing Problems Promptly to Your Landlord
Reporting plumbing problems, such as leaks, promptly to your landlord is another crucial step in saving money on your monthly utility bills. Even small plumbing leaks can lead to significant water waste over time. By addressing these issues promptly, you prevent further water loss and avoid the unnecessary expense of paying for water that you aren’t using.
Leaks and HVAC problems directly impact your monthly utility bills. By alerting your landlord to the problem, they can arrange for timely repairs, ensuring that your plumbing and HVAC systems operate efficiently, and prevent any unnecessary financial burden.
4. Set Your Appliances to an Energy-Efficient Temperature
Setting your refrigerator and freezer to an energy-efficient temperature in your apartment can lead to significant savings on your monthly power bill. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your refrigerator's temperature between 35°F and 38°F (1.7°C to 3.3°C) and your freezer at 0°F (-18°C) for optimal energy efficiency. In addition, if your lease allows you access and control over your water heater, the most energy-efficient temperature for it is 120 degrees.
By maintaining these temperatures, you ensure that your appliances are working efficiently without wasting excess energy. Additionally, every degree lower than the optimal temperature can increase energy consumption by up to 5%. Overall, following these temperature guidelines can result in noticeable savings on your power bill.
5. Use Energy-Saving LED Lightbulbs
Switching from traditional lightbulbs to LED bulbs in your apartment can lead to significant savings on your electricity bill. LED bulbs are extremely energy efficient and consume much less power than traditional incandescent bulbs. They do this by converting a higher percentage of the energy they consume into light, rather than heat, making them much more efficient.
6. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
Unplugging cords to appliances or electronics from the wall outlet when they're not in use is a simple yet effective way to reduce monthly electricity costs. Many devices, even when turned off, continue to draw power in a standby mode known as "phantom" or "vampire" power. This standby power consumption can account for a significant portion of your energy usage and contribute to higher electricity bills.
By unplugging the cords, you eliminate this phantom power drain, ensuring that no energy is wasted when the devices are not actively being used. It is especially important to unplug chargers, televisions, gaming consoles and other electronics that are often left plugged in even when not in use.
7. Limit Your Washer and Dryer Usage
Limiting your washer and dryer use can significantly reduce monthly utility bills for individuals renting an apartment. Washers and dryers are among the most energy-consuming appliances in a household, contributing to higher electricity costs. By adopting alternative laundry practices, you can effectively decrease your energy consumption and lower your utility bills.
- Air dry: Explore air-drying your clothes instead of relying solely on the dryer. This method not only saves energy but also helps extend the life span of your garments. Using drying racks is a good alternative.
- Wash in cold water: Washing your clothes with cold water instead of hot or warm water is a way to save money, because heating water accounts for a significant portion of energy usage during laundry.
- Don’t do laundry on hot days: Hold off on doing your laundry on days when it is extremely hot outside. Dryers generate a surprising amount of heat and can quickly warm up the small space of an apartment. This can, in turn, require your air conditioner to work harder and cost you more money.
Similarly, limiting the use of your oven is a good way to reduce your energy costs. Operating your oven can heat up your apartment quickly, causing you to run your air conditioner longer to cool it back down—and cost you more money as a result.
8. Use Shades or Curtains to Reflect the Sun
Pulling shades or curtains can be an effective strategy to save money on monthly utility costs. Shades and curtains act as insulators, which helps regulate the temperature within your apartment. During hot summer days, pulling down the shades or closing the curtains can block out the sun's heat and reduce the amount of heat that enters your living space. This helps to keep your apartment cooler, reducing the need for excessive air conditioning and ultimately lowering your electricity bill.
Similarly, in colder months, closed curtains or shades create an additional layer of insulation, preventing drafts and heat loss through windows. By trapping the warm air inside, you can minimize the need for heating and save on energy expenses.
9. Use Fans to Promote Cooling
Fans are a great way to cool an apartment while using minimal energy. Unlike air conditioners, fans do not require a lot of electricity to operate. They circulate the air in a room, creating a breeze that helps evaporate moisture from the skin, providing a cooling effect. Be sure to turn off the fans when you’re not using them or are leaving the room.
10. Seal Gaps Around Doors and Windows
By properly sealing doors and cracks with weather-stripping or caulking, you can prevent drafts and enhance the insulation of your apartment and reduce the need for excessive heating or cooling. Lowering demand can help reduce energy costs.