The Renter’s Guide to Energy Efficiency

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(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

You may not be in your forever home, yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain an eco-friendly sensibility and save money in the process. It may not make sense to invest in long-term, expensive solutions for greening your digs, but reducing power use and subsequently, energy costs, can be achieved in a variety of budget-friendly ways. Here are some easy solutions.

Fan Out
A combination of ceiling and rotary fans can have a dramatic, cooling effect on rooms of all sizes and will utilize up to 90 percent less electricity than air conditioning units do. Investing in a ceiling fan with reversible blades can help keep your apartment warm in winter, even if your landlord is stingy with the heat, as well as cool it down during the summer months. Just make sure to get your landlord’s ok before you install your new fan, as well as their agreement, in writing, that you can take it with you when you pull up stakes.

Be Appliance Savvy
It may not be up to you what appliances you have, but it is up to you how you use them. To reduce power usage, only run your dishwasher when it’s full, or use it for special occasions only. You can also keep your gas bills down and carbon footprint small by cooking a whole week’s worth of meals in the oven at one time. If you have a washing machine, make sure to wash your clothes in cold water and always clean the lint out of the dryer. If you need a new fridge, stove, dishwasher or other appliance, talk to your landlord about buying those that are Energy Star certified. If you are purchasing an air conditioner or other appliance on your own, avoid the flea markets and go for new, Energy Star-certified models as well.

Unplug Recreational Electronics
Computers, printers, televisions, DVD players and other at-home electronics can be plugged into power strips which are then turned off at bedtime. Kitchen electronics such as toasters, microwaves and coffee makers as well as chargers can be unplugged when not in use. If you rely on an appliance to do double duty as a digital clock, consider using a decorative, battery-operated wall clock instead.

Seal It Up
Cracks and fissures in the walls and around doors or windows can create drafts and air leaks. Get permission to close them up with caulk or foam sealant or ask that your windows be replaced with energy-efficient options, which might even yield your landlord a tax credit, providing an additional incentive.

Turn Off The Lights
Remember how your folks used to bug you about turning the lights off when you left a room? It’s time to listen to your mother. Lights should be turned off when no one is using them. Also consider swapping out your incandescent light bulbs for Energy Star-qualified lights, such as compact fluorescents.   

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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