How to- Top 10 Efficiency Upgrades Renters Can Make
When you think of home energy savings, oftentimes, folks assume they must own their own home to make changes and energy efficient upgrades. But there’s actually plenty of things renters can do to help reduce their energy impact, including many simple and low or no cost projects that can still bring a significant impact.
If you live in a rental property and can’t commit to more permanent efficiency solutions, we have a list of projects just for you. Once you’ve cleared the project with your landlord, reference these 10 ideas to reduce your utility bills and energy use:
- Install a Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat makes it easier for you to save energy by offering specific settings to regulate temperatures in your home while accounting for variables including time of day, seasons and your schedule. Programmable thermostats can range in price from $20 to a few hundred dollars, but check with your utility provider — some may install one for free or provide an incentive towards your purchase.
- Install Gaskets Behind Outlets & Switches: You should install gaskets to prevent unnecessary heat gain or loss depending on the time of year. The purpose of foam gaskets is to seal off the wall cavity behind outlets & switch receptacles. If you were to conduct a “blower door test,” you would be amazed to find a generous amount of outside air blowing out from these points.
- Caulk & Seal Around Windows and Doors: Leaks and drafts cause unnecessary expenses. Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant. According to the Department of Energy, if you reduce drafts in your home you can cut your energy bill by as much as 30%!
- Use Power Strips: Put laptop AC adapters, cell phone and other electronic device chargers on power strips that can be turned off — or will turn off automatically. The charger draws power continuously, even when the devices are not plugged into the adapter.
- Check Your Water Heater Settings: Lower your water heater’s maximum temperature — 120 degrees should be sufficient. The energy savings are 7-11% of water heating costs. You can also wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket available at your local hardware store.
- Replace The Furnace Filter: Have your cooling system serviced once a year and regularly replace furnace filters. During the summer months when cooling is used most frequently, change or clean furnace filters once a month.
- Use Energy Efficient Bulbs: Replace regular light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Consider LED lights for outdoor areas. Switching one CFL can save $40 or more over the lifetime of the bulb and LED lights use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting.
- Install Window Shades: Keep shades and curtains closed during the day on the south side of your home to prevent your air conditioning unit from working twice as hard to cool the space.
- Consider fans: They move the air around spaces and that circulation action can make rooms more comfortable — even at higher temperatures. Fans usually allow for a 3 to 5 degree higher temperature setting without sacrificing comfort and each degree saves about 3% on cooling costs. That could mean cutting one of your biggest energy inputs by 15% and saving hundreds of dollars every year.
- Clean Your Refrigerator: By cleaning the coils on the back of your fridge you’ll help one of the biggest energy hogging appliances run more efficiently.
What other ideas can you think of to help save energy around your home? Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page and we’ll share with other Virginians so we can all work to meet the state’s goal to reduce electricity consumption by 10%.