If you own a home, there’s a lot you can do to decrease your energy use (and thus bills). However, as a renter, you’ve usually got less flexibility because replacing windows, planting wind blockers and other long-term investment solutions aren’t very realistic. Still, even renters can make reasonable changes to help cut down on energy use and heating costs.
First, if you can, look for a rental that’s already weatherized and/or eco-friendly to save on energy organically from the get-go. Also keep in mind that large spaces cost more to heat and cool, so only rent the minimum space you need. Of course, depending on your move/rent budget and the area you live in, this can be impossible, so know your other options too.
According to Energy Star, leaky doors or windows are a number one energy suck in most rentals. If you look at your door or doors and can see under them to the great outdoors, then you’re losing too much heat. Here’s what you can do…
- Caulk leaks around windows and doors (you should ask the landlord about it first to be sure it’s ok).
- Install some very basic weather strips such as a $3 door sweep.
- Lots of cloth items can be used to block chill from windows and doors beyond caulk or strips, such as hanging a heavy curtain or blanket up over the window or door. Window film has gotten better over the years and can block some chill, but it’s not a good as having quality windows to start with. If you shop for window film, look for thicker heat control window film.
- If parts of your rental, especially the floors are a lot colder than other areas, there could be an insulation problem going on or there may be a problem with the roof in that spot. This is something you will need to speak with a landlord about as you won’t be able to fix it, but you can also try placing a rug over the colder floor area.
- Report any window cracks or door cracks to your landlord before winter hits.
- If it’s just plain freezing all the time, ask your landlord how well the entire heating system is being maintained. Most home owners do (or should do) pre-season check-ups of heating and cooling systems plus change air filters regularly. As a renter, you won’t have control over this, but it can pay to ask, preferably, before moving in if stuff like this is scheduled.
Maintain an even temperature
Lots of renters turn their heat off entirely when they leave the apartment, but this is an energy waste, not saver. When you continually turn your heating system on and off it may stress it out, leading to the system not working as well and excess energy use.
Most experts recommend keeping your thermostat somewhere around 55 to 60 degrees during the day – even if you’re gone. Basically, when you get home, if your apartment is ice cold, you’re not leaving the thermostat on high enough. When you are at home, try to maintain a slightly higher, but not excessively higher temperature. Turning your thermostat up all the way won’t actually heat your space any faster and puts stress on the system.
Even if you rent a home or apartment, you may be eligible for low-cost or free weatherization help from local organizations in your area. These organizations will come to your house, help you install energy saving additions like a programmable thermostat and give you tips about saving on heating use and costs. Many people think these programs are only open to home owners, but that’s far from true.
- Read this to learn more about low-cost or free weatherization – you can also contact your local energy company as most have programs to help people who need heating or cooling assistance.
Random weatherization tips
- Do the basics – dress warmly, close doors of rooms you’re not using and create living areas that maximize energy use.
- You may (MAY) be able to save money by using a space heater.
- Turn your water heater down if you have access to it before winter hits.
- See 15 more tips about saving energy during fall and winter.