Regardless of whether or not you own or rent an apartment or house, when the summer comes, unless your entire home heating and cooling system runs on electricity, your energy bill goes up, as we all tend to crank up the air conditioning to survive high temperatures and heat waves. However, there are several ways for you to keep your energy bill down while renting.
Make sure that you have energy-efficient lighting throughout your home.
For a very long time, incandescent was the only word for lighting. Then the compact fluorescent lights became very popular, and now the latest technology in lighting is called LED (Light Emitting Diodes). LED lighting is more cost-effective than compact fluorescent or incandescent ones, and as time passes by and technology advances, LED will be the standard in energy-efficient lighting. Although the initial cost of a LED bulb is far more expensive than a CFL one, the overall cost of lighting is still lower than its competitors (see table below).
Even if you rent, you should be able to replace all of the incandescent light bulbs with at least CFL ones, if not LED. Once you do that, your energy bill should go down. Keep the original lighting stored in a safe place so that you can switch them back once your lease is up.
Take shorter showers, not baths.
Hot water heating is one of the major uses of energy in any home, so instead of taking baths, prefer showers and shorter ones. According to a study performed by the American Water Works Association Water Research Foundation, the average person showers for 8.2 minutes, using 17.2 gallons of water. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a faucet running for five minutes uses about as much energy as keeping a 60-watt light bulb on for 14 hours. So taking shorter showers will not only save money on your utility bills but also help with both water and energy conservation since it takes energy to pump and heat the water and later clean it at a water treatment facility.
Protect your windows.
Based on a publication from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar heat gain through windows accounts for up to one-third of the cooling costs in a building. If you rent, window films are a great solution to control such heat gain, reduce electric bills and save energy. Designed to block harmful rays and reduce glare, window film will prevent furniture and carpet from fading, as well as stop UV rays from penetrating the glass. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to apply and can be found at your local hardware store. Furthermore, while increasing energy efficiency, those films can reject up to 60 percent of the heat coming through your windows, cutting the electricity bill to about 20 to 30 percent without reducing your visibility.
Stop living in a fridge and get a digital thermostat.
Depending on where you live and the age of your home, your heating and cooling system can be responsible for up to 56 percent of the energy that’s used in your home. Even though many people prefer cooler temperatures, setting your thermostat to 75 degrees Fahrenheit can feel pretty cool, especially when the outdoor temperature is over 90 degrees. Besides that, if you spend most of your day away from your home, talk to your landlord about installing a digital thermostat that allows you to program it to drop the temperature 30 minutes prior your arrival. This way, you not only can save up to 10 percent on your yearly bill as your air conditioning won’t be working to keep an occupied room cool, but you will also extend the life of the HVAC system.
Pick a day each week for a candlelight dinner. Consider sheers over heavy curtains for more daylight and less artificial lighting. If your home comes with a ceiling fan, use it, as it costs less to cool one room than the entire home with unoccupied rooms. After all, you don’t need to be a homeowner to start saving like one.
VK Sustainable Concepts’ Principal Andrea Vollf, LEED AP ID+C, is a registered interior designer and sustainability professional with over 15 years of experience in the interior design and marketing industries. She also writes for Controlled Comfort. Ms. Vollf is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois Chapter, with in‐depth knowledge of all aspects of Sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic. Connect with Andrea on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.