A lot of tips for cutting back on energy costs require major home improvement projects and structural changes, like adding insulation to an attic and installing double-pane windows. But for apartment dwellers and renters, these projects aren’t always possible. Even something as simple as caulking around windows to seal gaps can be a violation of a lease.
Why does this matter? Well, the amount of electricity you consume each month directly correlates to your energy bills. For example, the EIA says air conditioning expenses account for 12 percent of the average energy bill. If your home isn’t energy efficient, you could be spending even more to cool your home during the summer months. And the more electricity you use, the higher your electric bill will be.
If you’re renting an apartment or home, there’s no need to give up hope on saving energy and lowering your electricity bill. There are a lot of changes you can make that will add up quickly. Plus, the best way to cut down on energy costs is to use less electricity. Turning off lights in unused rooms and taking shorter showers are things you have complete control over. If you live in an apartment or rent a home, give these tips a try:
- Know where you’re using energy. Understanding where you’re using the most energy in your home is key to knowing how to lower your electricity bills. The SaveOnEnergy usage calculator can help you estimate where you consume the most electricity and how you can lower your usage.
- Talk to your landlord. There’s no harm in asking the building’s owner to make some upgrades that could save you money and increase the value of the property. If the answer is no, ask if you can still make some of the changes yourself and if the owner would reimburse you. Also, be sure to report leaky faucets, toilets, or broken appliances to your landlord immediately. Malfunctioning appliances are not working efficiently and can bump up your energy bill.
- Replace the air filter. When your air filter is past its prime, your HVAC system has to work harder to circulate air throughout your home. Replace your air filter every three months to ensure it’s working efficiently and to protect yourself from allergies.
- Adjust your water heater’s temperature. If you have access to your water heater, turning down the temperature can really reduce your heating costs. If you live in an apartment and can’t access the water heater on your own, ask your landlord for help.
- Use energy-efficient lighting. Choose LED light bulbs, especially for light fixtures and lamps that you use often. Energy Star-certified LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy and last 15 times longer than standard bulbs. You can also cut down on lighting costs by turning off lights and ceiling fans in unused rooms.
- Avoid energy vampires. Energy vampires are devices and appliances that consume electricity even when they’re not being used. Beware of items like phone chargers, toasters, and gaming consoles that you might normally leave plugged in when you aren’t using them. Simply unplugging these devices can solve this issue, but you can also use power strips to easily turn everything off at once.
- Adjust your thermostat. If you leave for work every day, bump your thermostat up a few degrees in the summer or down in the winter so you aren’t paying to heat or cool an empty apartment or home. If you have any control over the type of thermostat, choosing a smart thermostat can allow you to program the temperature in advance so you don’t have to do it manually every day. Remember, air conditioning in the summer takes up 12 percent of the average energy bill. Making small adjustments to your thermostat can really add up.
- Invest in energy-efficient kitchen appliances. If your kitchen is not furnished or your landlord is open to upgrading the appliances that are already there, choosing energy-efficient appliances can make a huge difference in energy costs. For example, an Energy Star-certified refrigerator uses between 15 and 40 percent less electricity than non-certified models.
- Have an energy-efficient laundry day. A washing machine uses about 90 percent of its energy heating up water. Washing your clothes in cold water can greatly reduce electricity usage. There are also other small ways to lower your energy costs when doing laundry, including cleaning your dryer’s lint trap often and washing larger loads of clothing. See our full guide to laundry-related energy savings for more information.
- Weatherstrip your windows. If you’re a renter, you probably won’t be able to replace your windows entirely. But simply using weatherstrips can lower your energy bill by 15 percent. Weatherstripping properly keeps air conditioning and heating inside your home and prevents outside air from coming in. SaveOnEnergy’s guide to weatherstripping covers the different types of weatherstrips and how to install them.
- Keep air vents and radiators clear. Don’t put furniture in front of or over your air vents or radiators. This blocks or redirects airflow where you don’t need it and forces your HVAC system to work harder to heat or cool your home.
- Use rugs on hardwood floors. During the winter, laying down rugs on hardwood floors can create more insulation and help to warm your apartment or home.
- Shower efficiently. We’ve already discussed how heating up water requires a lot of energy. Cutting back on how long you shower or bumping the water temperature down can lower how much electricity your water heater uses. You can also save energy by investing in an energy-efficient showerhead. A new showerhead can save you up to $145 in energy costs each year and you can bring it with you to your next home if you move.
With these tips, you can reduce your energy consumption – and your electric bills – in your apartment or rental home. Find more ways to save on energy costs with our Learning Center or explore cheaper electricity rates offered by energy providers at SaveOnEnergy.
Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.