5 Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Depending on the season, location and amount of usage, your electric bill can be an intimidating expense. After all, electricity powers nearly everything in a modern home–from the appliances and entertainment devices, to air conditioning and lights.

5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

Despite its importance, you don’t have to let your electric bill break the bank. There are some easy tips that renters can follow to make sure that electricity costs stay down and amount of money in your bank account stays up. Here are five easy ways to reduce your electric bill:

1. Unplug

It goes without saying that turning off the lights when you don’t need them can reduce the cost of your electric bill–but did you know that simply unplugging your appliances can help reduce costs, too? Of course, you don’t want to unplug things that need to stay plugged in like the refrigerator.

However, unplugging phone chargers, toasters, hair dryers, and other small appliances when they’re not in use can shave dollars off your electric bill every time. Consider getting timed surge protectors or outlet additions that can turn off and on things that you don’t need to use while you’re not home, like television cable boxes, modems, routers and the microwave.

2. Cool Naturally

One of the biggest uses of electricity in a home, particularly during the summer, is the air conditioning. Nearly all air conditioners–whether they are window units that can be turned on and off, or they are controlled centrally by a thermostat–use electric power to run.

While some hot days are unbearable and it’s impossible to go without a/c, on more temperate days, try to cool your home naturally. Open windows, block sun from streaming in windows, and use fans. Try opening two windows; then place a fan backward in one open window to draw hot air out. This will allow the cool air from the other open window to flow in freely.

3. Go Green

If you use a lot of lights in your apartment, one way to reduce your electric bill is to use eco-friendly light bulbs. There are lots of eco-friendly light bulbs available, and they’re much more durable, long lasting, and environmentally-conscious.

Fluorescent light bulbs are not only better for the environment, they’re also better for your bank account. Switch your regular bulbs out for fluorescent ones; then reduce their usage as much as possible. Consider trying different fluorescent bulbs to find just the right color for your home (some can be very bright).

4. Upgrade and Update

New appliances are much more energy efficient and responsible than older appliances. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn’t you don’t have any control. Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco-conscious include computers, televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.

5. Clean Your Filters

Your air conditioner has a filter in it that keeps things like dust and dirt from blowing into the air. However, it needs to be changed regularly, and some people try to save money by not replacing the filter. In reality, a dirty filter is not only bad for your lungs, but it can also drive your electricity bill way up.

Full filters make air conditioners inefficient, causing them to work harder (or you to turn them on a higher setting) in order to make your space cool. If your “change filter” light is on, or if you haven’t changed yours in a while, check with your landlord to see if he has a replacement filter for you (or, if the air conditioner belongs to you, head to a hardware store to get a new one). You’ll spend much more on cooling your space with a dirty filter than you will on the one time expense of buying a brand new one.

Do you have any great ideas about how to save money on your average monthly electric bill? If so, we want to hear them! Comment below or reach out on Twitter.

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5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bills

Photo Source: alliecat1881

How to Vacuum Refrigerator Coils and Keep Your Cool

how to vacuum refrigerator coils

Vacuum your refrigerator coils twice a year to keep your fridge running efficiently.

Let’s face it: In the summertime, your refrigerator is your best friend. There’s nothing like the first sip of a cold beverage to cool you off when temperatures are sweltering, and you don’t even want to think about where you’d be without the freezer. A summer without ice is not a summer you’ll enjoy.

Since so much is riding on this relationship, this month’s green tip focuses on keeping your favorite appliance running smoothly. Regular refrigerator maintenance involves vacuuming the condenser coils on the back or the bottom to clear out the dust and gunk about twice a year. Removing this debris will ensure the fridge doesn’t have to work too hard to keep the insides cold.

Even better, the less the refrigerator has to work, the less energy it consumes – which translates to lower energy bills for you. Now that’s cool.

So how do you go about vacuuming those coils? We’ve got the process laid out for you, step by step.

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Where are Rent Prices Getting Cheaper (and Where are They Rising the Most?)

If you think the rent is too damn high, you’re in luck – if you live in a city where rent prices are actually going down.

Rent prices are going up nationwide by 4 percent on average, according to the National Association of Realtors. But Apartment Guide data has revealed several areas where the rent has been getting cheaper over the past year. We compared the median of the entry-level rent prices for apartment communities across the nation from May 1, 2013, to May 1, 2014, and found several areas in which there was a decrease in rent prices:

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How to Decorate Your Apartment for Under $100

Keep fruit in glass jars for a bright, inexpensive decor detail in your kitchen. Image: @1377, Atlanta, GA

Keep fruit in glass jars for a bright, inexpensive decor detail in your kitchen. Image: @1377, Atlanta, GA

When you live in an apartment, sometimes it can be difficult to make it really feel like home — especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune. You usually don’t have the option of changing a lot of things in the apartment, since you don’t own the place.

However, if you get creative, there are still a lot of ways to decorate your apartment, personalizing it in a unique and interesting way. Here are some unique ways to add spice to an apartment, all without lightening your wallet too much.

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Take a Tip from Tucson: Conserving Water in Your Apartment is an Easy Way to Observe Earth Day

Click to see the full infographic!

Click to see the full infographic!

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22 – and we’ve got water on our minds.

Saving water in your apartment, that is.

Water is perhaps the most necessary substance we need for life, yet because of its easy availability, it is equally easy to take for granted.

In cities where location makes water more difficult to find, citizens often step up to the challenge. We’ve noticed a city where conserving water is taken just this seriously. Tucson, Arizona, has risen to the challenge of careful water conservation with great results.

Read on for a discussion of Tucson’s Earth-loving achievements, as well as a few easy tips to help you remember to conserve water in your own home.

A desert city where conservation is a priority
Consider places in the country where fresh water is harder or more expensive to come by. In desert cities, like Tucson, AZ, water is all the more valuable because of its scarcity.

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Furnished or Unfurnished Apartment? How to Make the Call

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

Whether you’re renting your first apartment or just moving on up, you might ask yourself a question that many renters face: Furnished or unfurnished? Furnished apartments are far less common, but it might be the right choice for you if you’re a student, a traveling professional, or you just don’t want the hassle of buying and moving furniture.

Furnished apartments usually come equipped with furniture, basic kitchen appliances and tableware, bathroom necessities such as a shower curtain, a washer/dryer set, and possibly a few other amenities. The exact items will vary depending on the landlord and what kind of place you’re renting. Here are a few pros and cons to consider before you decide if furnished or unfurnished is right for you.

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Spend Or Save? Which Apartment Items You Should Pay More For

A bed is one item that's worth spending a little extra on. Your back will thank you. Image: Oro Valley-The Golf Villas at Oro Valley, AZ

A bed is one item that’s worth spending a little extra on. Your back will thank you. Image: Oro Valley-The Golf Villas at Oro Valley, AZ

When you rent an apartment, rather than buying a place, it can save you a lot of money. However, if that apartment isn’t furnished — as few apartments are — you’ll soon find yourself with a list of extra things that you have to buy in order to turn your new place into a proper home.

Buying everything at once can be overwhelming (not to mention a strain on your bank account), but you can get away with skimping on certain things. However, you should spend the money on other items so you don’t have pay to replace them a few months later.

So which things can you save on, and for which apartment items should you spend a little extra? Let’s break it down.

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Hidden Gems: America’s Most Affordable Cities (Infographic)

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Big-city living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only will you find plenty of small-town charm if you live in a less populated town; you’ll also save money. Apartment Guide found America’s most affordable cities — the top 10 cities with the least expensive median rent prices — and we dug up a few cool facts about these hidden gems as well.

1. FlorenceMuscle Shoals, AL

Median rent: $395

Named after the city in Italy, the northwestern Alabama town of Florence not only boasts the cheapest rent in the nation; it’s also the home of the University of North Alabama. Music lovers are in luck; artists from all over the country come to Florence each summer for the W.C. Handy Music Festival. It originally focused on blues and jazz, but now includes rock, gospel, country and more.

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Cheap Green Cleaning: The Only 5 Products You Need

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

When it comes to spring cleaning, the only way to do it right is to go green. Not only are non-toxic cleaning products better for your health, there’s another bonus: This is one of those times when going green also saves you money! Not only are the following five ingredients good for your health and your home’s cleanliness, they also cost way less to keep on hand than commercial cleaners.

Ready to start scrubbing? Read on to learn about the only five weapons you’ll need in your cleaning arsenal:

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