Yes, home is where the heart is, and where the bills are made! I was once an apartment dweller, and I remember being frustrated by the lack of control I felt. I had to wait for the operatic dishwasher to break before I could get a quieter, more efficient model. With the refrigerator, I was lucky if I got ice, much less an Energy Star darling. But enough with the appliance lament! We’ve discussed eco-friendly homes that use less energy, but I’m happy to say that apartment dwellers can also green up their lives – and get lower utility bills. Yes, even if you don’t have the best appliances.
While it’s ultimately the landlord’s job to make your apartment energy efficient, you may be the one stuck with utility bills. So, it’s reasonable to suggest affordable upgrades or repairs that may make your apartment more efficient. Plus, there are some simple things you can do on your own to lower your apartment utility bill. I’ll send plenty of ideas your way below. However, for more complicated projects, such as installing caulk or weather stripping, remember that you’ll need to get permission from the landlord, or ask the maintenance staff to install the items for you.
Easy Ways to Save Energy in Apartments
Ceiling fans: Circulate your air to rely less on your air conditioner and heater. The circulation provided by ceiling fans will help you feel cooler in summer and warmer in winter, even if the actual room temperature isn’t changed. Blades should rotate in reverse or counterclockwise in the summer, and forward or clockwise in the winter.
Window treatments: Use draperies, blinds, films or shades to deflect heat in the summer, and retain warmth in winter. Explore which type of window covering may be best for you at Energy Savers.
Refrigerator: Keep the coils clean, and the refrigerator full (but not overcrowded). Full refrigerators retain cold better, and clean coils improve efficiency.
Oven: Stop opening the door! When you open your oven door, you’re wasting a lot of energy. Instead of opening the door, peek at baked goods using that handy light switch and window. For roasts, use a leave-in meat thermometer.
Fixtures: Call attention to any leaky faucets or showerheads. Repairing them will help you reduce hot water usage. If you have a showerhead that’s older, ask about replacing it. Low-flow showerheads cost about $10 to $20, but they’ll give you water savings of 25 to 60 percent.
Dishwasher: Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Dishwashers are more efficient since they use less water, but make sure you’re running full loads. Also, select the shorter cycle option if possible.
Hot water heater: Reduce heating costs by lowering the thermostat. For each 10-degree reduction in water temperature, you can save 3 to 5 percent! Read more about proper hot water heater temperatures and safety precautions at Energy Savers.
Stop Air Leaks Around Doors and Windows
Weather stripping seals air leaks in areas of movable joints, like around doors or windows, but don’t assume that just because you can see weather stripping, it’s doing its job. Weather stripping can become worn, just like an old rug.
If you can fit a dollar bill between the doorjamb and door on the locked side, then there’s a good chance you need new weather stripping. If you feel air coming in around windows, you need some fresh weather stripping there too. Weather stripping is all you’ll need around windows, but you should also have a door sweep on the bottom of doors. When moving into a new apartment, remember to check out the weather stripping, and ask for repairs before you move in.
Caulk is also your ally in the war on air leaks. Forming a flexible seal around gaps or joints, caulk helps stop leaks around windows and doorframes, making it easier to heat or cool your apartment. If you suspect your apartment could use some caulk, talk with your maintenance team, but also consider the weather outside. Some types of caulk don’t set properly if applied during times of high humidity or cold weather.
Have you taken any actions to lower your apartment utility bill?