If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to save a few bucks and if possible, take better care of our mothership Earth. Maintaining an energy-efficient home sounds so appealing but it’s often easier said than done, especially if you’re renting. Unless the landlord or property owner is interested in financing major improvements, renters are left to their own temporary solutions.The good news is you can make a number of non-permanent yet effective changes to improve energy efficiency year around. From windows and doors to the kitchen, reduce energy consumption and hopefully you’ll save more on your monthly utility bill.
Windows and Doors
When winter sets in, block cold drafts from coming in and retain heat so you don’t have to pay to keep your furnace running all the time.
- Add weather-stripping around window jams, doors and any moving joints.
- Plastic shrink-wrap kits are a minimal investment and take minutes to set-up. Use with that bubble wrap you accumulated over the holidays and create an additional layer to keep warm air in without blocking sunlight.
- Keep warm air in by keeping a “draft snake” around window sills.
- Install a door sweep, a rubber strip which helps block the gap between door and floor. Follow up with a draft snake, securely attached to bottom of the door to block drafts from both sides.
- Hang drapes over windows to retain warm air at night. Curtains are also an effective way to block off drafty areas, such as the mud room entrance.
- If storm windows aren’t available, consider plexiglass or acrylic panels custom sized to fit your windows. Easy to install and completely temporary for the perfect seasonal fix.
- Turn the thermostat down overnight or periods you’re away from home to decrease energy consumption and your monthly costs.
- Maintain your furnace by regularly replacing the filters, especially if you have pets.
- Keep registers clean and clear of debris. Direct registers so the warm air is directed away from doors and windows.
- In rooms you’re not using securely close registers and keep the door shut.
- For radiators, create reflective plates out of aluminum foil and place one behind each unit. The radiator will heat the foil and reflect warmth back into the room.
- Make your water heater more efficient with an insulation blanket.
- Wrap water pipes leading from water heater with insulation foam.
- Turn the water heater temperature down. Aim for 120 – 140 degrees. Play around with different temps and find the lowest setting that supplies your home with enough hot water.
- Stick with eco-warm or cold water temperatures for wash and rinse. As much as 90% of the energy used is just to heat the water. Plus the rinse temperature won’t improve the previous wash cycle.
- Avoid using too much detergent which makes the washer work harder and use more energy.
- Clean dryer lint screen regularly to avoid lint build up.
- Select water level/load appropriately so you’re not filling up the reservoir for a full load when you only want to clean a few items. Or better yet, wait until you have a full load to run.
- Avoid overloading dryer which adds to overall drying time. Aim for an amount of clothes that will dry in 45-60 minutes.
- If available, select “perma press” cool down cycle so cool air instead of hot is supplied towards the end.
- Dry multiple loads back to back while dryer is already warm.
- Use a clothesline or drying rack to save energy while protecting fabrics for longer wear over time.
Moving on to the kitchen, two of the biggest energy consumers are the refrigerator and stove.
- Adjust temperature settings for different seasons: a little lower in winter. Morning readings should be 34 – 40 degrees F, and 0 – 5 degrees F in the freezer.
- Make your freezer more efficient by filling empty space with containers of water, ideally frozen outside, or even cardboard boxes. By filling the empty space, you’re reducing the space your freezer would use energy to keep cold.
- Defrost food in the refrigerator the night before which will cool the refrigerator down and reduce its energy usage.
- Wait until hot food has cooled before storing.
- Vacuum the coils in the back or bottom of your unit twice a year for maximum efficiency. Make sure the air flow around refrigerator isn’t blocked or obstructed.
- Regularly check the door gaskets and remove any debris or accumulation.
- If possible, do not keep refrigerator next to stove, dishwasher, heat vents or direct sunlight.
- Use lids when cooking to retain heat and cook at lower temps.
- Select the burner size that best matches the pan size. Otherwise, energy is wasted and heat is lost heating the space around your pan.
- Perform regular maintenance by keeping drip pans clean. Avoid lining with aluminum foil which can reflect too much heat and damage the elements.
- Preheat only when baking. Avoid opening door while baking or you’ll lose 20% of the inside heat each time door is opened.
- Check oven door seal for a tight fit and clean regularly to remove build-up or food accumulation.
- Turn oven off a few minutes before food is ready so oven heat can finish cooking time.
- When available, use the microwave. Microwaves use a third to half as much energy as conventional ovens.
When you’re renting these easy yet effective changes will improve overall efficiency and help you save more on utility bills. Put your extra savings in a an emergency savings account so you are prepared for the next unexpected expense and your savings efforts won’t be wasted.