If you’re renting an apartment or a house in Texas, you likely can’t make major or permanent changes to your space. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments to create a more energy efficient home. We asked a handful of experts for the best ways to save energy and money for your Texas rental.
Ceiling fans create a wind chill effect, and according to Marla Mock, VP of Operations at Aire Serv, this allows you to adjust your thermostat settings by 4-7 degrees Fahrenheit. “This results in up to 30% in savings, and you can still remain comfortable,” Mock explained.
However, you need to make sure that the fan is set in the right direction. Mock says it should turn in a counterclockwise motion during the summer months. In the winter, you can reverse the fan’s direction to help circulate heat.
Another adjustment that Texas renters can do to save energy is ensure their air filters are running as efficiently as possible. “The job of an AC filter is to remove debris from the air before it enters your system, and when things clog up, the unit pulls that much harder and uses more energy – causing a substantial rise in the electric bill,” Mock said.
In addition, she explained that dirt in your filter can shorten the life of your air conditioner. “Strain on the fan and motor from the increased effort will take its toll, as well.”
Although it’s not your air conditioner, it’s in your best interest to keep the rental’s unit running smoothly. If it needs to be repaired or replaced, you may be stuck in a hot home for several days. “You should replace air filters at least every three months,” Mock advised. And if you have pets or an extremely dusty home, it would be a good idea to replace them more frequently.
You probably can’t control the type of appliances in your Texas rental. However, Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance in Dallas, says you can advocate for energy saving appliances. And you can control how the appliances are used.
“Be mindful of when you use larger appliances – operate dishwashers, washers, and dryers only when full, and preferably at night or when temperatures are cooler,” Shimek said. Or, when you need to cook during the hotter hours of the day, he recommends using the microwave or grilling outdoors instead of turning on the oven.
“Also, remember that refrigerators/freezers use less energy when full, so be sure to pack them accordingly,” Shimek explained.
Shimek also recommends using power strips around your apartment or Texas rental home. “Microwaves, toasters and TVs are energy vampires, consuming energy even when not in use,” he says. “Don’t let them drain your budget – plug them into power strips instead.”
According to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, you should also be deliberate when using your dishwasher. “Use it less frequently and always be sure it’s completely full before running,” he advised. “If your landlord is in the market for a new dishwasher, encourage them to look for an efficient ENERGY STAR qualified unit and as a bonus, you’ll not only save on your water bill, you will save on your electric bill too.”
James also points out that the water heater accounts for 12 percent of your electric bill. “Simply flushing sediment from an older system offers an efficiency boost, but the greatest energy savings comes with replacement – particularly for systems 15-20 years old.” He recommends talking to your landlord about flushing the system, and upgrading, when possible, to a more energy-efficient water heater.
Weather-stripping can keep cool air inside your Texas rental during the summer and outside during the winter. But just because you’re renting doesn’t mean that you can’t save energy in this area. “Self-sticking weatherstripping is a useful tool for helping windows close more tightly,” says Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor.
“To test if your window needs new weatherstripping, close it on a dollar bill – if the bill is easy to pull out, your window isn’t sealing tightly and outdoor air is leaking in,” Roberson recommended.
Fortunately, Roberson explained it’s not hard to apply self-sticking weatherstripping. First, he advises removing the existing weather-stripping and scraping away any residue. “Measure twice and cut once to ensure the proper length. Peel the backing off the sticky side of the weatherstripping and press it firmly against the window frame,” Roberson said.
As we continue to move through the hot summer months, homeowners and renters alike can adjust their energy habits in order to maintain affordable electricity bills. With these tips, even apartment-dwellers and renters in Texas can ensure they are making living an energy efficient life.
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.