Moving in to a new apartment can be a daunting experience. The half-hour walkthrough you did with the landlord the week before may not have told the entire story, and as you spend more time there, you may begin to uncover some surprises – like that basement you didn’t know you had making unsettling noises at 3 o’clock in the morning, or your neighbors being very amateur musicians. And if you pay for your apartments utilities, the biggest surprise may come at the end of the month when your power bill comes in the mail. However, you don’t need to despair! There are ways to manage your electricity use. Here are some ways you can make sure the home you’re renting is energy efficient!
1. Get a sense of previous power bills: While touring the rental, ask the landlord for a ballpark figure of what the previous tenants were paying per month for power. Make sure that number works within your budget; and if it does, challenge yourself to be more efficient than the tenants before you.
2. Note the size and age of the rental: Often bigger and older homes are less energy efficient. However, this doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker. That old, open-concept rental may have too much charm to resist – and we’ll learn some ways to deal with its lack of energy efficiency in just a little bit.
3. Take a look at the appliances: When checking out a potential rental, spend time looking at the appliances that come with it. A simple way to tell if an appliance is energy efficient is to check for an ENERGY STAR® label. And no matter how energy efficient the oven is, using a microwave is always more efficient for heating up leftovers.
4. Feel for air drafts: The landlord won’t think you’re odd for scouring the house, pressing up against every window feeling for drafts. And don’t stop at the windows either: feel around outlets and doors as well. You want to make sure your rental won’t make you feel like you’re caught in the middle of a blizzard during winter months.
5. Ask about the insulation: In electrically heated homes, heating generally accounts for about 50% of the electricity used. Insulation keeps that heat in the home. Need I say more?
So you’ve done your due diligence: you were satisfied with the appliances, the windows seemed fine, and the landlord told you he put new insulation in just last year – but it’s the dead of winter and your power bill is higher than expected! There is still hope – making your rental energy efficient can happen after you’ve moved in. Here are a few more ways to stay cozy and lower that power bill:
6. Seal up any gaps or cracks: If your rental is chilly in the winter, there is a good chance that heat is escaping. But from where? Let’s leave no stone unturned. Seal gaps around windows, vents and exterior doors with caulking (a tube costs under $10). You can even use foam gaskets (a package costs about $5) under electric switches and outlets to keep the heat in.
7. Get a programmable thermostat: That old dial thermostat you didn’t pay any attention to on the walkthrough of your rental can be off by up to 5 degrees, so it’s time for an upgrade. Programmable thermostats are far more reliable and relatively inexpensive. They even allow you to set back the temperature of your rental at night and have it nice and toasty again when you wake up. Set it and forget it, programmable thermostats are a no-brainer.
8. Unplug your devices: You may not think that blue light on your game system is costing you anything, but given that the average home in Canada has between 20 and 40 consumer electronic devices, keeping them all plugged in can add up quickly. Here’s a solution: use a power bar, and when you aren’t using your devices, flick it off.
9. Go LED: If you’re the type to go a month in the dark when one of your light bulbs blow to avoid fetching a chair and replacing it, replace all those incandescent light bulbs with LEDs – ENERGY STAR LED’s last up to 15x longer and if you switch all your incandescent bulbs to LEDs, you could save about $60 a year on your power bills.
The next time you’re on an apartment hunt, keep these tips in mind. And if you’re already in a lease for a rental that is costing you more than you’d like for power, know that there is always ways to increase the energy efficiency in a home. For more tips on saving money and energy, check out https://takechargenl.ca.