Whether you are trying to save money or save the earth (or a little bit of both), making your home energy-efficient is something that’s important. Homeowners can be sure to purchase energy-efficient appliances and might decide to install solar panels or have other types of energy-saving renovations done. If you’re renting an apartment, however, these are not options. Don’t worry! There are plenty of steps you can take to save energy in your rental.
#1 Replace Light Bulbs to More Efficient Models
You don’t have to do this all at once; you might as well use the light bulbs you currently have so as to avoid wasting them. But as they burn out, replace any less-efficient light bulbs with Energy Star fluorescent bulbs. They will last longer and will use less electricity than traditional bulbs. They might be more expensive, but it will pay off in the long run when you pay less for electricity overall. (While you’re at it, be sure to turn off your lights as you leave a room; this is important no matter what kind of light bulbs you are using!)
#2 Use Your Windows and Drapes Strategically
If your apartment came with mini-blinds, investing in drapes (look at yard sales or thrift shops!) can not only add character to your rooms but also save you money on your utility bills. In the winter, open the drapes wide when the sun is on that side of the apartment. For example, in the morning, you’ll want to open the drapes and blinds of your east-facing windows; in the afternoon, close the ones on the east and open the ones on the west and south sides.
In the summer, you’ll want to do the opposite, of course. Close the drapes on the side of your home that is getting the most sun. Early in the morning and later in the evening, you can open the windows to encourage a cross-breeze; you won’t want to do this on extremely hot, humid days, though. Only do it when it’s comfortable and relatively dry outdoors.
#3 Make Small Changes in Your Appliances
There are some small changes that your landlord might not mind if you make, particularly because they’ll improve the apartment. When in doubt, though, you’ll want to ask ahead of time.
You might want to replace the existing shower-head with a low-flow version. These can save several gallons of water per shower. You can also replace the existing thermostat with a programmable one. You can keep your apartment cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer during the day when you’re at work and set it to click on shortly before you arrive home.
If you don’t know how to do these small tasks, a site like Findhow.com will allow you to look up the step-by-step instructions easily and quickly.
#4 Get a Hanging Rack for Wet Clothing
Many apartment complexes don’t allow tenants to hang clothing outside on clotheslines. If yours does, then install an umbrella-style rack out on your balcony to let the breeze dry your clothing for free when it’s warm enough!
If you don’t have the space or that’s not allowed, though, you still have the option of hanging your clothes in the house. Use the shower rod and hang your clothes on plastic hangers to drip-dry over the tub when you’re at work. Or you can buy a drying rack and set it up in an out-of-the-way area.
One tip: If you have a dryer, use it for 10 or 20 minutes before hanging your clothes to dry. That will keep the clothing softer and will minimize the overall drying time. Another option is to let clothes hang for several hours, then transfer them to the dryer to finish drying and to get the wrinkles out.
#5 Use Draft Stoppers on Your Doors and Windows
If you are getting a draft through your windows or your outside doors, purchase or make a few draft-stoppers. These are long tubes of a heavy material like denim stuffed with rice or beans. Lay them in front of the window or door that’s leaking air and you’ll notice that it stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. You can also simply roll up a towel or some other large piece of fabric if you don’t want to make or buy something new.
Look around your apartment and jot down ways that you can save energy. Do what you can to reduce your footprint both for the environment and for your bank account!