Seven Tips to Make Renting More Energy Efficient

Renting a house or an apartment in Texas is often a double-edged sword.

  • On one hand, you usually don’t have to worry about maintaining the appliances and the air conditioner because that headache belongs to your landlord.
  • On the other hand, you usually can’t do anything about improving the inefficient appliances and air conditioner, which can cost you a bundle to run because they belong to your landlord.

Thankfully, there are seven ways you can use energy smartly enough in your rented home that can reduce your energy usage and could potentially lower your monthly energy bill. They’re easy and inexpensive to accomplish,  and they’ll keep your place feeling comfortable.

1) LED Light Bulbs

The odds are pretty good that, when you first moved in, there were incandescent light bulbs in the light sockets. While incandescent bulbs are cheap to buy, they are expensive to use and have a short life span — about 1,000 hours (roughly one year).

Replace those lights you use the most with LED bulbs. These use much less electricity. A 13 watt LED puts out as much light (in lumens) as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. LED bulbs last much longer – about 25,000 hours (about 10 years) – and the prices for basic LED bulbs are coming down.

Even better – you can always swap back in the incandescent bulb when you move out and take the energy-efficient bulbs with you.

2) Change Your Air Filters Regularly

Basic air filters trap dirt, dust, and other airborne contaminants. Over time, they get clogged, and your central air/furnace must use more energy to circulate the same volume of air —and that adds more to your energy bill.

You can take control by changing the air filter with an inexpensive cardboard and spun fiberglass once every three months (more often if you smoke or have pets). Also, keep return air vents free from dust and from being blocked by carpet and furniture.

3) Close Those Curtains

Specifically, you should close the south- and west-facing windows during the day. This prevents the hot sun from heating up rooms and the rest of your home.

Insulated or thermal-backed drapes block out the sun and cut heat gain to a room by 33%. Drapes also work to insulate against heat conduction in the winter to keep your rooms warmer.

4) Run Major Appliances at Night

Major appliances like dishwashers, dryers, and ovens use heat to do work. This heat increases the cooling load your air conditioner is fighting, which adds to your energy bill.

Using these at night when it’s cooler outside can lower the over all cooling load. Plus, you might be able to take advantage of off-peak hour pricing.

Dryer Tip — Lower your energy costs further by reducing how often you use the dryer. Hang clothes on a clothes lines. If that’s not an option, put wet clothes on dryer racks and use a small floor fan to blow on them.

Water Heater Tip — Most water heaters use tanks that are kept hot and ready for use — even when you are not around to use it. A good tip is to turn your water heater temperature way down during the day when you are out and then turn it back up when you return to heat water over night. Wrapping a water heater jacket around the heater can help keep water warm longer.

5) Raise Your AC When You’re Away

Running your air conditioning at 78°F instead of 72°F can save between 6 and 18 percent on your cooling bill. This will keep your living space cool enough and — more importantly — less humid while you are away at work.

If you are at home, rely on ceiling fans to help keep you cool. This allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. While they don’t thermally cool a room, fans do make you feel cooler because their breeze naturally evaporates sweat from your body.

6) Turn Off the AC

Try opening your windows at night instead. Set up two or more fan in windows to create a cross breeze to cool your living space. Then close up everything in the morning.

7) Turn It Off

Leaving on lights, ceiling fans, and electronics when no one uses them wastes energy and adds to your energy bill. For those electronics relying on standby power, use a smart power strip to monitor and turn them off. Smart power strips turn completely off after a set period of time, which will completely turned off everything you’ve plugged in.

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Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.