Energy bills, such as electricity, gas, and heating costs, represent a significant portion of monthly household expenses. To reduce these expenses, households can adopt energy-efficient practices, invest in energy-saving appliances, and explore renewable energy options. Proper management of energy consumption is also vital for easing financial strain and promoting sustainability.
Even if you don’t own your home, there are still easy ways to increase your energy savings that won’t require any major handiwork or cost you your security deposit. Here are 10 simple steps to make your rental home more comfortable and energy efficient.
1. Upgrade your light bulbs
Switching out old light bulbs is an easy way to save energy and money. The average household can save $225 per year simply by replacing incandescent lights with LED bulbs or compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These energy-efficient bulbs last longer and use between 75-90% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
To maximize your energy savings, switch all of your bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, and be sure to turn off all lights whenever a room is unoccupied.
2. Manage your thermostat
Heating and cooling is a huge expense for homeowners and renters alike. On average, it makes up 54 percent of Americans’ energy spending. The easiest way to start saving is to keep your home a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
You can save even more by turning off your heating or cooling system when your home is unoccupied. If the outdoor temperature is below freezing, leave your heater at 50 degrees to prevent damage to your water pipes. You can also use a programmable thermostat to schedule temperature changes automatically.
3. Unplug unused electronics
Many electronics consume energy even when turned off. For instance, devices such as chargers, laptops, gaming consoles, and small appliances consume energy simply by being plugged in. Unplugging electronics when not in use is a simple yet effective way to conserve energy and reduce our environmental impact.
When electronics are plugged in, they often consume standby power, also known as “phantom” or “vampire” power, which is wasted energy even when the devices are turned off or in sleep mode. This standby power can account for a significant portion of your household’s electricity usage over time.
By adopting the habit of unplugging electronics when they are not actively being used, you can prevent unnecessary energy consumption. This practice not only helps lower your electricity bills but also contributes to a greener and more sustainable future by reducing overall energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Close curtains and blinds
Closing curtains and blinds can significantly aid in saving energy by creating a more energy-efficient indoor environment. By drawing curtains and lowering blinds during hot days, rooms stay cooler as sunlight and heat are blocked, reducing the need for air conditioning. Conversely, during cold weather, closed curtains act as an insulating layer, preventing heat from escaping through windows and thereby reducing reliance on heating systems.
This simple and cost-effective practice minimizes the temperature fluctuations inside the house, promoting comfort without excessive energy consumption. Additionally, the reduced dependence on heating and cooling systems leads to lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint, contributing to a greener and more sustainable lifestyle.
5. Use electric fans
Using ceiling and portable fans is an energy-efficient and eco-friendly way to beat the heat and reduce energy consumption. Unlike air conditioners, which consume substantial electricity, electric fans operate at a fraction of the power while providing a cooling breeze. By relying on fans instead of air conditioning, households and businesses can significantly lower their energy bills and minimize their carbon footprint.
Electric fans are versatile and can be used in various settings, from bedrooms and living rooms to outdoor spaces. They require minimal maintenance, making them a cost-effective and hassle-free cooling solution. Additionally, fans can be combined with higher thermostat settings, optimizing energy savings without sacrificing comfort.
6. Weatherproof doors and windows
Use weather stripping and door sweeps to seal gaps around doors and windows. This helps prevent cold drafts from entering during winter and keeps cool air inside during hot summers, helping to maintain a more consistent indoor temperature and reducing the need for constant heating or cooling. Additionally, weatherproofing enhances the insulation of a home, easing the burden on HVAC systems and leading to lower energy consumption.
By reducing the workload of heating and cooling appliances, weatherproofing not only cuts down on energy bills but also contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle, decreasing overall energy demand and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Limit hot water usage
Take shorter showers and avoid leaving the hot water running unnecessarily. Additionally, lower the temperature of your water heater to save energy and avoid scalding water. Water heaters are often set to default temperatures that are unnecessarily high, resulting in excessive energy consumption. By simply lowering the temperature setting, typically from the standard 140 degrees Fahrenheit to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you can achieve substantial energy efficiency.
The benefits of this adjustment are twofold. Firstly, less energy is required to heat the water to the lower temperature, resulting in direct energy savings. Secondly, a lower temperature setting minimizes standby heat loss, the process where heat escapes from the tank into the surrounding environment, reducing the need for the water heater to continually reheat the water.
8. Cook efficiently
Mastering the art of efficient cooking not only saves energy but also cuts down on kitchen time, leading to a more sustainable and cost-effective culinary experience. First, use a microwave or toaster oven for small meals since they use less energy than a conventional oven. Also, match the pot size to the burner when cooking on the stovetop.
Preheat the oven only when necessary and group items to cook together, maximizing oven space and minimizing usage. Use lids when boiling water or cooking, retaining heat and accelerating the process. Embrace pressure cookers and slow cookers to save both time and energy.
Always defrost frozen items in the refrigerator beforehand, reducing cooking time. Lastly, explore one-pot meals and batch cooking not only to save energy, but also to minimize the number of dishes and time spent in the kitchen.
9. Use energy-saving settings in appliances
Save on your power bills with the energy-saving mode in appliances! Designed to optimize energy consumption, this innovative feature ensures your devices run at their most efficient levels, leading to significant cost reductions. Whether it’s your refrigerator, air conditioner, dishwasher or washing machine, activating the energy-saving mode allows these appliances to operate with minimal power without compromising performance.
By intelligently regulating power usage and reducing unnecessary energy drain during idle periods, you can witness a noticeable decrease in your monthly electricity bills while continuing to enjoy the convenience and functionality of your favorite household appliances.
10. Shop for a new energy plan
Several U.S. states have deregulated their electricity and/or natural gas markets, meaning residents can choose from a number of retail energy providers and compare rates to find the best deals. If you live in a deregulated state, and your landlord lets you choose an energy provider, this is a great way to save on your monthly bills.
Electricity deregulation can reduce energy bills by introducing competition into the market. This encourages providers to offer competitive pricing and innovative energy plans to attract customers. As a result, consumers can compare and choose the most cost-effective options that suit their needs.
Deregulation also promotes efficiency and investment in the industry, leading to lower operational costs, improved infrastructure, and increased use of renewable energy sources. Ultimately, this competition-driven approach can lead to reduced energy prices and potential savings for consumers on their energy bills.
While you don’t have the flexibility of a homeowner for major renovations when renting, making your home comfortable and energy efficient is still in your best interest. If your rented space needs major upgrades, you can always bring it up with your landlord, but it’s best to frame the discussion as a way to boost the property’s value. Lastly, before you make any major changes to your home, be sure to review the terms and conditions of your lease.