The telltale orange leaves and nip in the air means it’s that time again: Fall’s cool breezes will soon give way to icy, wintry gusts. Don’t wait until it’s freezing outside to prepare your home for the cold months – these easy DIY projects will boost your energy efficiency and keep you toasty warm until spring.

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1. Tend to your windows.

Everyone wants big, pretty windows to brighten up their home, but windows tend to leak if they’re old, letting cold drafts seep inside. If you’ve got gaps, check with your landlord to see if you can caulk them or have the apartment community’s maintenance team do it for you.

You can further improve your efficiency with window coverings, including drapes, blinds and curtains. Be sure to close them at night so there’s a barrier between your warm inside air and the coldest outside air. And don’t forget weather stripping – if you can feel a draft coming from your windows, it needs to be plugged. You can buy inexpensive weather stripping at any home improvement store, or you can make your own draft stopper.

2. Wrap your water heater.

You can buy insulating jackets designed for water heaters at any home improvement store or online for as little as $20. Just follow the instructions and secure the jacket around your water heater – the extra insulation will improve heat retention, which means your water heater doesn’t have to use as much energy to get your water hot.

3. Use power strips, and turn them off when not in use.

Turn off your power strips when you're going to bed or leaving the apartment -- you'll save a lot of energy and money.
Turn off your power strips when you’re going to bed or leaving the apartment — you’ll save a lot of energy and money.

Did you know that your appliances use power if they’re plugged in, even if they’re not turned on? So-called “vampire power” can cost you as much as $100 per year, according to Energy Star. But you can drive a stake through the heart of vampire power by turning off your power strips when you’re not using them, especially when you go to bed or leave the apartment for work every day.

Turning off a power strip completely disconnects the power supply, which saves you money. Just remember that if your appliance is still functioning in standby mode, such as a DVR, you’ll want to leave it plugged in.

4. Use efficient light bulbs.

You don’t have much choice in this – the only light bulbs on the market nowadays are super-efficient, and the old Edison bulbs are a thing of the past. Before you buy a CFL or LED bulb, consider what kind of light you want, what room it’s going to be in, and what kind of fixture it’s going into. Energy Star has a handy guide to help you make the right choice.

5. Clean your refrigerator.

About once a year, you should pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the coils on the back or underneath. Over time, they get gunked up with dust, pet hair, cooking grease, and other debris that keep them from functioning efficiently. Considering the refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home, you want to keep it running as smoothly as possible. It’s not the most fun chore in the world, but you can get it done in just seven steps.

And did you know that a full refrigerator is more efficient than an empty one? When in doubt, stock that fridge.

More ways to live green from the Apartment Guide Blog:

How do you save energy around your apartment? Do tell!

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons / Nieuw, Firstfreddy

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About The Author

Courtney Craig is an editor and writer for the Apartment Guide Blog. She rented apartments for 12 years in 4 cities before buying her first house in Atlanta. Find Courtney on Google.

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