If you rent a house or an apartment, it may be difficult to make energy-efficiency upgrades on your own without soliciting the help or approval of the property owner. However, there are still some simple ways for you to save energy around your home without upsetting your landlord.
1. Change Lightbulbs: One of the simplest ways to cut down on energy is by switching out the bulbs in five of your most frequently used light fixtures with ENERGY STAR® certified bulbs. By doing that, you can save more than $65 a year in energy costs.
You can also conserve energy by remembering to turn off the lights when they’re not in use. According to ENERGY STAR®, turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day, can save about $15 per year.
2. Unplug Electronics: Many of your electronics use power even when they’re turned off, so consider unplugging these “vampire appliances,” such as battery chargers or power adapters, when you’re not using them.
You can also use a power strip as a central “turn off” point for electronics that are not in use.
3. Switch Out Showerheads: Switching out your showerhead with an energy-efficient one can help conserve water and energy.
According to ENERGY STAR®, a 10-minute shower with a new, low-flow showerhead, can save you about five gallons of water over a typical bath.
4. Install Programmable Thermostat: If possible, installing a programmable thermostat can reduce your energy usage by automatically adjusting your home's temperature settings while you’re away or sleeping. ENERGY STAR® says using it properly can save up to $150 a year in energy costs.
5. Get a Window Evaporative Cooler or Energy-Efficient Room Air Conditoner: A window evaporative cooler is an efficient alternative to a traditional central air conditioner and works best in low-humidity areas. If you purchase and install a qualifying Window Evaporative Cooler, you can receive a rebate of $200.
If you’re considering a room air conditioner, try to buy an ENERGY STAR®-labeled model because it can use up to 10 percent less energy than a standard model.
If you’re getting a window unit, make sure it fits tightly in the window so outdoor air doesn't get into the room.
6. Check Water-Heater Settings: One suggestion from Apartment Therapy is to check your water heater setting. Be sure that it is at the lowest comfortable setting so that you're not wasting unnecessary energy.
You can also cover an older tank with an insulating jacket. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that if you have an older hot water tank, check to see if it has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If it doesn't, then consider insulating it. This can reduce standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent and save about 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs.
7. Window Caulking: Another simple energy-saving tip from Apartment Therapy is caulking windows in older buildings to keep hot or cold air from getting inside your home.
8. Use Drapes: Easily control your home's temperature by taking advantage of drapes. Close window shades and drapes during hot days to keep the heat out, or vice versa, open them during the winter to let the sunshine in during the daytime.
9. Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient: If your rented home comes with a refrigerator and you’re unable to purchase a newer and more energy-efficient refrigerator, there are some things you can do, such as cleaning the coils on the back of the fridge, to make it run more efficiently.
Cleaning the condenser coils at least once a year could improve your refrigerator’s efficiency by 30 percent.
10. Clear Air Registers: Make sure air can circulate freely in your rooms by moving any furniture that may be blocking air registers.
If there’s something that you can't change on your own at your rented home, consider asking your landlord for help – because in the long-run, you can both benefit from making the home more energy-efficient.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR® and Apartment Therapy