A lot of tips we hear about for saving energy in the home require changes to the building's structure. Adding insulation to the attic and installing double-paned windows are endeavors apartment dwellers simply can't tackle. Even something as simple as caulking around windows to seal cracks can be seen as a violation of the lease.
There's no need for renters to give up hope for saving money and energy though. Little changes you make can add up quickly. Plus, the best way to save energy is to use less of it. Turning off the lights when you leave a room and taking shorter showers are things you have complete control over. If you live in an apartment, give these tips a try:
- Talk to your landlord. There's no harm in asking the building's owner to make some upgrades that will save you money as well as increase the value of the property. If the answer is no, ask if you can still make some changes yourself and/if the owner will reimburse you.
- If you don't control the temperature in your unit, ask the landlord to reset the heater/air conditioner to a temperature that's more energy efficient. Maybe he can lower your rent as a result of the money he'll save on energy!
- Report leaky faucets and toilets or appliances that don't work immediately so your landlord can fix them.
- Roll up a towel and push it against a door or window sill that doesn't close tightly. This will keep air from leaking in or out.
- Use a fan instead of the air conditioner. Or use a fan to allow a higher setting on the air conditioning. Remember though – the air that fans produce cool people, not rooms, so turn off the fan when you leave the room.
- Lay down rugs on bare floors for more insulation during the winter. Take them up during the summer to help keep cooler.
- Replace light bulbs with more energy-efficient versions. Incandescent light bulbs produce a lot of heat, so changing out these bulbs can also keep your apartment cooler.
- Hang light-colored curtains or blinds to reflect the sun and keep the heat out during hot summer days. In the winter, be sure to keep the coverings open during the day to warm your home.
- Apply a non-adhesive film to the inside of your windows to insulate your apartment. The film blocks the sun's heat during the summer and allows the room to heat up faster in winter.
- Don't put furniture in front of or over vents. This blocks or redirects air where you don't need it, such as the wall behind your couch.
- Use the microwave instead of the oven or stove when possible. This appliance uses less energy and time to cook a snack or dinner than using the stovetop or oven.
- Unplug your appliances, electronics and chargers when you're not using them. Anything with a standby light that glows even when it's off is still drawing power. An easy way to do this is to plug electronics into a power strip and just turn off the strip's one switch. This is especially helpful if you have an entertainment system with a TV and several other components.
- Look for ENERGY STAR appliances, which meet government standards to use less energy. The ENERGY STAR rating doesn't just apply to dishwashers and refrigerators the landlord provides – it applies to other appliances renters own, such as TVs, laptops, printers and cable boxes.