If you’re renting a house or apartment in Texas, you face limits on what you can do to improve energy efficiency on your landlord’s property. So, what can you do to be more energy efficient and reduce your energy bills?
Quite a lot, in fact. While you might not be allowed to install new major appliances or installed a smart thermostat, we’ve got 5 ways you can save energy as a renter so you can potentially lower your electric bill.
1) Swap Out Incandescent Bulbs for CFLs or LED Bulbs
If your apartment has 10 standard-sized light sockets with 60-watt (800 lumen) incandescent bulbs in them, then replacing them with 10 13-watt (800 lumen) CFL or LED bulbs uses 470 FEWER watts per hour. Assuming all 10 lights are used for 1 hour every day for 1 month, CFLs and LED can reduce your electric use by 14,100 watts (14 kWh) —or about $1.40 off your monthly electric bill (assuming 10¢/kWh). That might not be huge, but the point is that energy usage does add up.
2) Become a Fan of Fans
Ceiling fans add extra air circulation that improves air quality. So, if there is a ceiling fan in your apartment, remember to switch its spin direction to clockwise for cooling and counter-clockwise for heating.
Tip – Clean dust from the blades before you switch it or little dust caterpillars will fly everywhere.
Also, remember to change the air filter on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioner (HVAC) system every three months (or more often for someone who smokes and/ or has pets). Air filters improve air quality, but can get clogged over time and reduce your HVAC’s efficiency — and that will cost you.
3) It’s Curtains for You!
Not only do insulated or thermal-backed drapes block out the sun and cut heat gain to a room by 33%, they can also break up convection air currents around a window, which helps keep the room cooler. In cold weather, backed curtains reduce the amount of heat loss by 25%.
Tip – In winter, keep drapes closed on the north-facing windows and open the south-facings ones during the day to catch warm sunlight.
4) Program Your Thermostat Properly
Depending on your building, setting back the temperature for heating (and cooling) can save between 5% to 8%, with some savings approaching 13% in winter and 23% in summer.
If your place doesn’t have a programmable thermostat option, get in the habit of setting it back yourself. Hard to remember, yes; but think of ways to remind yourself. For example, you can program reminders into your smart phone, laptop, or just hang an eye-grabbing sign from the thermostat to flip when you adjust it. Silly? Not when you can save up to 15% a year on your energy bill.
5) Watch for Appliances that Run Poorly and Waste Energy
Often, such appliances just require “preventive maintenance” or cleaning. If any major appliance, such as the HVAC, laundry, or stove, isn’t working properly, tell your landlord. Keep at it until the problem gets fixed — after all, they’re investing in the upkeep of their property.
Of course, regularly cleaning your place can eliminate many problems before they start. Refrigerators, for example, will use more energy if air circulation around their cooling coils gets blocked with dust or dirt.
Tip — Overfilling your fridge will reduce air circulation on the inside, too, and make it use more energy.
Also be on the lookout for windows or doors that fail to close properly. Not only do these let in drafts, they can let in pests as well as turn into potential security problems.
So while renting a home or apartment in Texas may seem to limit ways for you to reduce your energy costs, you actually have far more energy efficiency options than you might realize. Learning what energy conservation options are open to you will help you save more. Plus, you’ll learn how to adapt them to ways that fit your circumstances in the future.
After all, you’re not going to be here forever – you’re just renting.