As a renter, the uncomfortably low temperatures of winter bring about a very specific set of problems. Try as you might, your landlord will probably not allow you to install your own fancy, programmable thermostat or switch out your thin windowpanes for something double-sided. And although the apartment reviews have boasted great energy bills at your new residence, there are many cheap ways to save even more money without pulling out all the stops. By taking the time to tweak your heating situation, you could be shaving a sizable amount of cost off your winter heating bills.
1. Curtains: Add some personal flair to your apartment by hanging up some nice, thick curtains. Keep the curtains on south-facing windows open during the day so that natural sunlight can help warm your apartment. At night, close all of your curtains to keep the heat from escaping.
2. Water Heater: If possible, lower the temperature of your water heater to about 115-120 degrees. Most water heaters are set by default to a scalding 140 degrees, and lowering the temperature will not make a noticeable difference in anything but your next bill.
3. Fans: Ventilation fans in your bathroom and kitchen are more hardworking than you may think. According to the US Department of Energy, a bathroom or kitchen fan can eject a houseful of warm air in only one hour. So, remember to turn off the fan as soon as it’s done its duty.
4. Air Filters: Air filters are one of the cheapest components of a functioning ventilation system, yet many renters don’t realize how failure to maintain clear air filters could be costing them much more in the long run. Dirty, clogged air filters make it hard for your heating system to push warm air into your apartment, not to mention the dust in the air you’ll be breathing in. If your new apartment does not take responsibility for changing your filters monthly, it’s worth it to keep up with it yourself!
5. Showerhead and Faucets: Although there may be some restrictions here on what your lease will allow you to alter, replacing your showerheads and faucets with low-flow, aerated ones will drastically reduce the amount of water and heat that you use.
6. Fireplace: As most of us know, heat rises, so an unused fireplace with an open hatch or damper is pretty much the equivalent of having a giant hole in your roof—leaking all of your precious warm air. Take a second to check and make sure your chimney hatch is closed and your warm air is contained.
7. Windows: Although not free, winterizing your apartment windows can be very cheap. Plastic film kits will help insulate your windows and keep your heat from radiating out. Also be sure to check your window and doorframes for leaks and seal with easy-to-remove components like weather strips.
8. Heating Vents: Check to make sure that your heating vents are clear of obstructions that may keep them from circulating warm air throughout your apartment. Most of the time, renters may push a couch or dresser up to the wall without realizing that there is a heating vent behind it closer to the ground and end up blocking air.
9. Thermostat: According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree you turn your thermostat down. So make it a point to turn your thermostat down about 10 degrees for those 8 hours that you’ll be at work, and you could save quite a bit on your next heating bill.
10. Ceiling Fans: One very unique and totally free way to help conserve energy during the winter is to reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. By reversing the direction of the blades, you’ll be drawing the cool air upwards and forcing the heat that has risen down toward you. You can leave the fan on the lowest speed setting so that there is not a lot of air movement, but you’ll still be able to feel the heat that your AC is pumping out. On most fans, there is a very small, discreet switch that tells the fan to reverse the direction – although you may have to remove a few screws to reach it. Just remember: clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer.