For most of the country, winter means several months of chilly temperatures, hot bowls of soup, and snowflakes in the air. But it doesn’t have to mean costly utility bills. Whether you’re concerned about your monthly payment or your environmental impact, there are a few simple steps you can take to save electricity in your apartment this winter.
- Wrap your windows. As a renter, you can’t install storm windows or replace older, drafty single-pane windows. But you can still seal out the cold. Use heat-shrink plastic wrap, sold in kits for varying window sizes, that trap a layer of insulating air to block out wintry winds. It might not be the most stylish solution, but, if you live in an area with blustery winters, these kits can save you up to $20 per window throughout the heating season.
- Turn down the heat. You rarely spend all day inside your apartment, so why should you spend all day paying to heat it? Before you leave for work or school, turn down your thermostat a few degrees. Lowering the temperature while you’re away can lower your heating bill by about 10%, according to Energy.gov. But don’t keep your apartment too cold: To prevent pipes from freezing, you should heat your apartment to at least 50 degrees — warmer if you have pets.
- Open the curtains. If you have south-facing windows, where the sun spends its time in the winter sky, open those curtains let the sun stream in. Although you probably spent most of the summer trying to keep the sun from turning your apartment into an oven, now is the time to take full advantage of the sun’s warm rays.
- Use your ceiling fan. During the summer, your ceiling fan should be spinning counterclockwise to push down a cooling breeze. During winter, reverse the direction so that your fan is pushing air up. Keep it on a low speed, and the fan will circulate heat more efficiently and keep your home warmer.
- Bust out the blankets. Keeping your apartment at a cooler temperature while you’re away has its benefits, but if you also keep them a few degrees lower while you’re home, your savings will be even greater. Energy.gov estimates that you can save about 1% of your heating bill for every degree you lower your thermostat, so bundle up with sweatshirts and blankets instead of cranking the heat up to 75 degrees.
- Block drafts. Is there ice building up on the inside of your window? Turn the lock. Locking your windows in the winter time creates a seal that blocks out winter winds and prevents this buildup. Also, many apartments have a locked closet that holds their HVAC unit, which vents outside and, unfortunately, lets cold air into your apartment. Use a door snake or a tightly wrapped towel to block the draft and keep your warm air inside. If you’re having any issues with HVAC, look for resources online about how to hire the best HVAC contractor and you’ll find a few good ones!
Saving energy in the winter isn’t just a homeowners game. Your pocketbook (or your property manager’s) can still reap the benefits of a few thoughtful tweaks around your apartment. If you’re looking for more ways to lower your utility costs and environmental impact year-round, check out our Green Apartment Checklist.