Your electric bill can be a substantial part of your housing costs unless you take some reasonable steps to save energy. If your apartment uses electric heat, and you live up north, or if you live in the Sunbelt, the savings can really add up. Air conditioning, laundry, dishwashing, and artificial lighting can still cost a substantial amount of money each year. Most of these tips help you lower your bill for free!
Use Energy Efficient Lightbulbs
Incandescent bulbs are common and inefficient. You can save electricity and money over the long term by replacing those incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs or LED bulbs. LED bulbs cost more than CFLs, but are even more energy efficient. A 15-watt CFL bulb will last for 10,000 hours and cost $1.20 a year to run for two hours a day, according to Department of Energy data. An LED bulb would last for 25,000 hours and cost only $1.00. Relying on natural light as much as possible saves even more money.
Keep Out the Summer Sun
Heat from direct sunlight makes your air conditioning work harder than it needs to. Keep the blinds closed and use natural light from windows that aren’t in direct sunlight when you only need a modest amount of light. Pay attention to where sunlight streams directly into the apartment and keep the blinds or shades closed. Using electric light, if you need it, will be cheaper in the long run that making your air conditioner work harder than it needs to. Adding inexpensive solar film to windows that get the most sunlight is a cheap way to save energy and still let natural light in.
Get Free Heat from the Sun
If you live in a cold climate, you might want more direct sunlight in your home. Try to use natural sunlight in winter. The light in winter can add a couple of degrees of heat and save you a little money in the winter. Pay attention to when and where the sun shines through your windows. It won’t be hard to figure out when to open the blinds in the winter to let in some sun. Leave the relevant window blinds open when you are away and turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees.
Use the Oven Only When Needed
If you need to cook, use the microwave or stove top as much as possible. The heat in the oven tends to end up in the apartment, warming it up. Cooking in a pot on a burner creates less waste heat and uses less electricity. Microwaving food generates less heat and uses even less electricity. If you love to cook, you can save a little money each year by only using the oven when truly necessary. Cooking in the evening or early in the morning, when the outdoor air is cooler, will also reduce cooling costs.
Use Fans to Supplement the Air Conditioner
Fans use less energy than central air. If your apartment has ceiling fans, use them and turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees. A $20 desktop fan will pay for itself in a year or so if you can run it at night instead of turning down the thermostat. Turning the thermostat from 78 to 76 will cost more than running the fans, especially if your apartment is poorly insulated or has an old air conditioner.
Dress for Winter to Save on Heating
Just as turning down the thermostat in summer costs money, turning it up in winter costs money. Put on a sweater in the winter. Keeping yourself warm is free. Putting a quilt on the bed is cheaper than keeping the temperature at 70 degrees instead of turning the thermostat down to 68. In addition to dressing for the weather and using natural light to warm up the home a little. You can also use ceiling fans to circulate the heat and save on heating costs.
Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Some ceiling fans can be made to run in reverse, pushing warmer air down from near the ceiling. This makes the apartment a bit warmer while taking far less energy than running your heating system. You can turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees and hardly notice any difference.
Run the Dishwasher Only When Full
Mechanically cleaning and drying dishes can consume a substantial amount of energy, especially if there are three or four people living in your apartment. You can run the dishwasher less often, which saves electricity and water. Save a little more electricity by letting the dishes air dry unless you are in hurry. Heated drying is energy intensive and isn’t necessary most of the time.
Air Dry Clothes
If your apartment came with a washer and dryer, that’s great. You can save time and it is much easier to save a little energy by air drying some clothing at home. Buy a drying rack and put it in the tub where your clothes can drip dry without making a mess. If you have a full washer, you can fill the dryer and save a bit of energy that way. As with drying dishes with a machine, machine-drying your wet clothing isn’t always necessary.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Doing laundry is an opportunity to save energy and water. Heating water for laundry takes energy and isn’t always necessary. Load up the washing machine and use a cold wash and rinse to clean clothes. You’ll be able to save money by completing multiple energy-saving steps like this, which add up over the course of a year.