So, you’ve moved most of your stuff out of your parents’ place, and after all the hassle, drama, and unexpected expenses, you’re finally settling into your first, very own apartment. That means you’ll be paying your own electricity bills.
While there’s no need to panic, your energy habits do affect your monthly bill. While nobody’s habits are exactly the same, let’s look at the most common ways you can start saving energy. Individually, these examples don’t offer huge savings, BUT the combination of all of them can really help you save money.
1) Use Energy-Efficient Light bulbs
When you first moved in, the previous tenant may have left incandescent bulbs in all the lights. The first thing you want to do is to swap these out for energy saving bulbs. Sure, incandescent bulbs are cheaper compared to energy efficient bulbs — BUT incandescent bulbs have shorter life and cost more to use. Replace those lights you use the most with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) since these use less electricity. A 13-watt CFL puts out as much light (in lumens) as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. CFLs last much longer, and LED bulbs even longer than that. And when you move out, you can always swap back in the incandescent bulbs and take the energy efficient bulbs with you (saving even more money).
2) Replace the Air Filter Every Three Months
Dirty air filters make your heat and air conditioning system work harder to circulate air. If you are paying for your own heat and air conditioning, a dirty air filter will add to the expense. Air filters are made from different materials in different thicknesses and sizes. These factors effect their MERV which are rated 1-13. You can use inexpensive cardboard and spun fiberglass filters (MERV 1-4) to clean large particulates. Better ones (MERV 5-7) will cost a little more but they also filter the air better and may help reduce chances for illness or allergies.
3) Adjust Your Water Heater
Most water heaters are merely large tanks designed to keep water at a set temperature whether you are using it or not. Not all apartments have their own water heater but if you do, consider that your water heater might be heating up water when no one is at home. A good tip is to turn your water heater temperature down during the day when you are out and then turn it back up to 120°F to heat water over night. Depending on where your water is situated, an inexpensive water heater jacket can also help reduce your heating costs.
4) Use Smart Power Strips
Smart power strips turn completely off after a set period of time. That means anything connected to them, like TVs, game consoles, routers, cable boxes, and other things that use stand-by power when they are switched off, will be completely turned off.
5) Turn Off the Ceiling Fan and Lights when You Leave the House
Many people believe that ceiling fans help heat or cool. The truth is that they do neither. They just help circulate heated or cooled air and make the room feel more comfortable. So, if you’re not there why keep it running? Similarly, remembering to switch off the lights when you leave a room reduces you usage as well.
6) Follow these Kitchen Tips
Cooking creates lots of heat, and in the summer, that can pile on to your apartment’s heat load and raise your air conditioning costs.
- Use the microwave to heat liquids rather than the stove. It’s faster and uses less electricity.
- A 350°F oven is even more expensive to run when your air conditioner is running. Bake at night when it’s cooler outside. Then you can open some windows and use a fan to blow out the heat until you’re finished.
- Dishwashers mainly use electricity to heat water and for drying. By running your dishwasher only at night, it reduces your AC’s heat load. Plus, you can also reduce the energy use by turning off the heated dry and leaving the door propped open right after it’s done washing. The hot dishes will quickly air dry.
7) Wash Clothes in Large Loads
Since most detergents now dissolve in cold water, you can reduce the amount of hot water you use.
8) Replace the Mechanical Thermostat
Programmable thermostats can help you reduce your heating and cooling bills by setting back temperatures while you sleep and while you are away at work. Smart thermostats give you even more flexibility and a means of seeing what temperatures work best for your apartment. Some lease agreements will let you install your own thermostat as long as you remember to swap-back in the old one when you move out.
There’s really no need to fear your electricity bills when you get your first apartment. This should be a new and exciting time in your life! Use these 8 great tips to reduce your energy usage now, and the savings and habits will carry forth into the future!