When you don’t own your home, it can feel like it’s impossible to lower your energy costs. A lot of energy-efficiency comes down to a building’s construction and the materials used. When you rent, you don’t have control over those things.
If you’re lucky enough to be in a building or property with insulated concrete panels or other energy-saving construction, you’re already ahead of the curve. However, if you live in an older building, you aren’t out of luck. You can still take charge and increase your energy-efficiency and lower your energy bills. Here are five ideas to lower your energy costs.
Seal the Windows
Windows are a prime problem area for energy waste. If windows don’t fit correctly or if they aren’t sealed, you could be paying way more than you should on your monthly bill. This is because any openings around the window can allow outside air to come inside your home. Whether you want to keep it cool or warm it up, if the outside air is seeping through your window, you’re going to pay for it.
Simple window weatherproofing isn’t too complicated either. You can order window sealing caulk online or from your favorite home improvement store. Then, simply seal the windows and close up any gaps or cracks to make sure your windows aren’t letting any air inside.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are an innovative way to save on electricity costs. They allow you to control your thermostat from all your smart devices. The benefit is that you can program your thermostat to run only when you need it to run. For instance, you can set the temperature higher during the day when you’re gone, and have it start cooling down around the time you come home from work.
Since you can control it from anywhere, it’s also fantastic for those times when you accidentally leave the system running while you’re on vacation or out of the house for a bit. While most landlords are open to smart thermostats, be sure to check with yours before installing a new system.
Change the Air Filters
It’s no surprise that the HVAC system (i.e., the heating and cooling system) is responsible for a significant portion of your electricity bills. This is especially the case when the weather is extremely hot or incredibly cold. There’s no getting around running your system, but you can get it to run more efficiently.
Be sure to regularly change your air filters. An old filter gets dirty, which puts stress on your HVAC system, causing it to work harder, which runs up your electric bill. Air filters are relatively cheap, too. And you only need to replace them every sixty to ninety days for optimum efficiency.
Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
LED energy-efficient light bulbs are a terrific way to cut back on electricity costs. A home’s lighting accounts for about 5% of your total electricity usage. These bulbs boast an array of benefits. Not only are they more energy-efficient, but they also generate less heat. If you live in a hot climate, the warmth of your standard light bulbs could be running up the temperature in your house, causing you to crank on that air conditioner.
Additionally, LED lights last around ten years. So, while they cost a little bit more upfront, you won’t have to replace them for a long time.
Adjust Your Habits
We’re all probably guilty of a few bad habits. Be sure to turn off lights and appliances when you aren’t using them. Consider turning the thermostat up or down a few degrees. Use your microwave instead of your stove when possible because it generates less electricity, and it doesn’t heat up the rest of the house. Unplug power cords when you’re not charging things. If you have a washer and dryer in your rental, try to only wash full loads instead of partial ones.
All these little habit changes can add up in the long run and help lower your energy costs substantially.
Just because you rent your apartment it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to high electricity bills. You can still lower the energy costs in your home. These five ideas are just a few to get you started. If you get creative, you’ll realize there are lots of other ways to cut on electricity costs, too. Start making little changes today and watch your energy bills start to drop.
About the author: Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.