Energy Savers for Renters: Part 2

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The most obvious way to reduce energy consumption for renters is to adjust the thermostat. In addition to using a higher thermostat setting in the cooling months, fans can also be used to increase comfort. Fans give the sensation that a room is cooler than it actually is because it creates a breeze across the body. Fans do nothing to lower the humidity in the room – they don’t remove moisture or cool the air, they just move air. Therefore, you will want to use your fan along with air conditioning to make you the most comfortable. Since the fan doesn’t actually cool the air, its benefits are only felt when someone is in the room. To reduce costs, turn your ceiling fans off when no one is using the room.

Next, change your air filters regularly. A landlord should regularly inspect furnace and air conditioning units for proper function. However, it is your job as a renter to clean or replace the air filters when they are dirty unless your lease agreement states otherwise. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your system and can block air circulation. All vents should be open to ensure that the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) is functioning to its maximum efficiency. Furniture, rugs or draperies should not block supply and return vents.

Another way to lower energy costs as a renter is to use shades, blinds or curtains on windows to control sunlight. Lightly colored materials are most effective in reflecting sunlight. During the winter, keep window shades, blinds or curtains open during the day to let in the sunlight, and close them in the evening to keep the heat in.

Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. CFL’s are much more efficient because they use less wattage to produce about the same amount of light. While they may cost more initially, they use less energy, last much longer, and produce less heat for the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb.

Renters should talk to their landlord about weatherization. Weatherizing is an inexpensive way to lower energy bills. Simple weatherization measures, which include applying weather stripping around windows and doors and caulking cracks, can diminish air infiltration from the outside. Consult your lease and get written consent from your landlord before undertaking any weatherization measures yourself.

Important for a renter also is to manage water heaters and faucets. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.

  • Turning down the thermostat on your water heater can also save energy costs for the renter. Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees or the “medium” or “normal” setting to save additional energy.

Next week: Energy Savers for renters: Part 3

Adapted from Georgia Cooperative Extension