Reducing energy consumption in a rental space can be tricky, whether you’re an owner or a tenant. Here are some ways to make it easier, short term and long.
You’ve watched your rental property utility bill climbing higher and higher each month, but aren’t quite sure what you can do about it. Maybe you’re renting it out to tenants. Maybe you’re a renter yourself. Either way, don’t give up! There’s still plenty of changes you can make to reduce your energy consumption and save money.
Replace light bulbs
Inefficient light bulbs leak energy, so check your space for incandescent bulbs and swap them out for LEDs or compact fluorescents. In the case of you being a tenant, ask if your landlord or property management company can provide the light bulbs. They will be as invested in energy efficiency as you are.
Track down air leaks
Seal any obvious cracks or gaps with cheap caulk. Not all energy leaks will be obvious, however. One easy method of finding the smallest air leaks is to shut all doors, windows, and fireplace flues, and turn off exhaust fans.
Walk around the apartment with a lit stick of incense, placing it near baseboards, windows, and electrical outlets. If the incense smoke is blown out or wavers, it’s likely you have an air leak and should seal these spots with caulk.
Locate energy drainers
Electricity is being pulled even when appliances are off, so it’s important to unplug them when not in use. To find the less obvious sources of energy drainage, walk around your apartment at night with the lights off and look for any colored lights on electrical devices and appliances. You may find these on a toothbrush charger, DVD player, cable box, computer, or television. To make it easy to turn them off, plug them into power strips you can switch off until you’re ready to use the device.
More efficient laundry
Washing machines and driers use a big chunk of household energy. To combat this, wash clothes in cold water as often as you can and skip the dryer. During warmer months, see about hanging clothes outside, on a clothesline or a laundry maiden. In some cases when you have less than a full load, you can even hand wash clothes in the bathtub, sink, or a table top washing machine in much less time than it takes a washer to complete its rinse cycle. This reduces your water use, too.
And of course, if you are a property owner, investing in new and more efficient machines for your tenants may be an upfront cost in the short term. But, the energy savings will pay off in the long. New Energy Star washers and driers are designed to cut energy waste, and make the most of water use, too. Since this is becoming the standard, it makes sense to include them in your rental space.
Identify major energy hogs
In your search for energy drainers inside your rental property, you may come across major air leak issues or notice an appliance isn’t running properly. It doesn’t hurt to report these issues to management and even ask for a more energy-efficient appliance if an old one must be replaced. Most apartment managers don’t worry about providing new appliances or any type of remodel until the apartment is vacant between tenants, but if you bring the issues to their attention enough, they’ll have to consider your request.
Living in and/or owning an energy-wasting rental space can be expensive. But you don’t have to resign yourself to costly bills. Being proactive and more mindful of energy consumption habits and the ways to encourage energy efficiency will go a long way in reducing your monthly expenses.