Downstairs neighbor slammed their front door so hard everything in my apartment rattled. #apartmentlife
I can live with a galley kitchen and a dollhouse closet, but I’d really love a balcony. #apartmentlife
While I enjoy the smell of delicious salmon cooking, I don’t necessarily enjoy it for three hours through an open window. #apartmentlife
The challenges of apartment life are sometimes enough to make you crazy. Someone’s dog howls and yelps every half an hour, the upstairs neighbor stomps around with stilettos at 11 pm nightly, and the heat never seems to work when you need it to. So much is out of our control when it comes to renting, and to top it all off the cost can be astronomical (#budgetimpossible).
Believe it or not, there are things we do have some control over when it comes to apartment living. Like, did you know that you actually have the power to lower the electric bill for your apartment? Pretty cool, right? I wish I could say you also have the power to lower your rent, but sadly nobody has figured that one out yet. In the spirit of saving money (and the environment) and giving you some semblance of control over your life and budget as a renter, here are some super easy, super smart ways to reduce your energy bill.
Keep it Cool in the Kitchen
The kitchen is the room in your apartment that no doubt eats up the most energy (even if it is tiny). While unplugging appliances that are not in use is a start, there are a bunch of other things you can do that have the potential to add up to significant savings.
Let’s start with the dishwasher, shall we? If you are one of the lucky folks who has the luxury of not having to hand wash your dishes every day (#sojealous) then you know your dishwasher uses up a lot of energy. You can reduce that amount of energy by up to 20% by turning off the heat dry function and opening the door slightly once the cycle is done instead. Also, make sure that your dishwasher is completely full before you run it and be frugal with your use of dishes (e.g. limit yourself to using one cup per day).
Moving on to the stove, you want to be mindful of how often you use it or else you could be wasting energy…big time! The stove top in particular is not incredibly efficient, so you may want to invest in an electric kettle if you are an avid tea drinker or pasta enthusiast. When it comes to cooking, consider the following tips:
- Batch cooking: Instead of turning on your stovetop or oven every day, prepare enough food for a couple of days and simply reheat as needed (if absolutely necessary).
- Don’t preheat: Unless you are a master soufflé maker, you can put food in the oven before it has preheated completely to cut down on cooking time. You might as well make use of the energy produced as the oven heats up to temperature, right?
- Soak beans, lentils, and grains: Cooking dried goods from scratch takes a lot of time and energy. Cut the cooking time of dried beans, lentils, and grains, like rice and quinoa, in half by soaking them overnight (or while you are at work) on the counter in a bowl of water prior to cooking. Note that soaked grains need less water for cooking (#nobodylikesmushyquinoa).
When you’re done cooking, don’t forget to let the food cool completely on your countertop before storing in the refrigerator. That way the fridge doesn’t have to expend more energy to regulate the temperature.
Transform Your Lighting
Lighting is another area where you have a potential for savings. Even a simple light bulb swap can make a significant difference in your energy bill over time. Here’s the lowdown on cutting energy usage with lighting:
- Swap out your bulbs: Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LED or CFL bulbs. Don’t let the upfront cost deter you—the energy a single CFL bulb saves during its lifespan (8,000 hours, compared to 1,200 of an incandescent bulb) can result in up to a $50 savings for you, depending on your particular bulb and your electricity rates.
- Flip It Off: No doubt your baby boomer parents harped on this one, but shutting off the lights when you leave a room is a no-brainer when it comes to energy savings. Getting into this habit could save you $15 dollars annually.
- Candlelight after dark: How classy would #apartmentlife feel if you used candlelight after dark? Try this a few nights a week to reduce your reliance on electrical lighting and create a moody ambiance. Just don’t forget to blow them out before bed. As a bonus, switching to candlelight may even help you catch more Zs, as being exposed to too much light at night can mess with your sleep and throw off your body’s natural rhythm.
Did you know that heating and air conditioning account for approximately 48% of energy costs in the average American home? While this number is typically lower for an apartment, HVAC systems are still huge energy wasters. Here’s how to keep your heating and AC costs down:
- Replace Your AC filter: If you are lucky enough to have air conditioning, make sure that the filter is clean. If it’s really old, ask your landlord to take a look and replace it if need be. Air conditioners with old, clogged filters have to work a lot harder to keep things cool, so they burn up a lot more energy than air conditioners with clean filters.
- Keep the Blinds Closed: Not to sound like a vampire, but on hot, sunny days, be sure to close your curtains and blinds if you have an air conditioner. If it is already cool in your place, your AC won’t have to work as hard. This will also work for the winter months if you have single pane windows–blinds can help keep out the cold by adding another layer of insulation to the window.
- Leave Space For Registers: When you are Feng Shui-ing your furniture, give your heat registers lots of room to breathe. If your apartment has old school electric radiators, consider putting heat-resistant reflectors between the wall and the furniture so that the air can circulate and efficiently warm up the whole room rather than just the wall.
Of course, these tips may or may not apply depending on your individual apartment and the type of heating and cooling systems you use. If you can control the climate in your home, be sure to double check that the radiators and air conditioner systems are working optimally. Don’t know the first thing about these systems? Have your landlord call you a technician to come check them out.
Little Changes Can Add up to Big Savings
While you may be skeptical that these little hacks are going to reduce your energy bill, you might be surprised at just how effective they really are (#dontknockittillyoutryit).
Of course, if you live in a state that offers deregulated electricity, it is also wise to look into choosing a third-party energy provider and possibly receiving a better deal on your electricity rates. Some providers, like Liberty Power, offer fixed-rate plans that eliminate those pesky fluctuations in electricity costs from month-to-month. This way, you won’t be at the whim of unstable rates resulting from the ever-changing demand for electricity—you can actually plan ahead and budget. Plus, if you’re concerned with the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, you can even purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) that ensure a certain amount of green energy from renewable sources, like wind and solar, are pumped into the grid. In that case, #apartmentlife may not be so bad after all.
Liberty Power understands the struggles—financial and otherwise—that come with apartment living. We can help eliminate some of those challenges, at least the ones that have to do with your energy bill. Reach out to us to chat more about our competitive rates and fixed-rate plans.