Everyone appreciates modern electricity and the creature comforts it provides, but no one enjoys paying for it.
Especially since, depending on the season, location and amount of usage, your electric bill can get out of control quickly. After all, electricity powers nearly everything in a modern home — from appliances and entertainment devices to air conditioning and lights.
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 the amount of money in your bank account stays up. Here are eight easy ways to lower your electric bill in your apartment.
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. No one enjoys the smell of 10 accidentally defrosted packs of ground beef.
However, unplugging phone chargers, toasters, hairdryers 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 things that you don't need to use while you're not home, like TV cable boxes, modems, routers and the microwave.
One of the biggest uses of electricity in a home, particularly during the summer, is air conditioning. Nearly all air conditioners, whether they're window units that can be turned on and off or they're 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 out the sun 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 freely.
If you use a lot of lights, try replacing them with eco-friendly light bulbs. There are many types available, and they're much more durable, longer-lasting and environmentally-conscious.
In particular, fluorescent light bulbs are better for the environment and your bank account. Switch out your regular bulbs 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).
Your air conditioner has a filter to keep dust and dirt from blowing in the air. However, it needs to be changed regularly, and some people try to save money by not replacing it. In reality, a dirty filter is not only bad for your lungs, but makes the air conditioner less efficient. This causes them to work harder (or need to be 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 they have 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 occasional expense of buying a brand new one.
New appliances are much more energy-efficient than old-school dinosaurs. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn't mean you don't have any control.
Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco- and wallet-conscious include computers, TVs, hairdryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.
HVAC efficiency is key to keeping energy costs down, and it simply won't work to the ideal standard if your home is leaking the heating or air. To prevent much-loved heated/cooled air from escaping to the great outdoors (and thus making your system work harder to maintain temps inside) conduct a thorough exam of doors and windows once a year.
If air is coming in, grab some caulk and weather stripping (if necessary) for an easy enough DIY home project. Of course, check with your landlord before doing any of these repairs to make sure it's OK. Who knows, maybe he'll take on the project himself!
If, however, it looks like moisture has been seeping through, as well, your landlord might have to bite the bullet and have the window replaced. The good news to this expense is that it will likely lower your monthly electricity bill in saved energy, plus many modern windows are more efficient all-around, not to mention better built. Plus, they shouldn't have to worry about it again for a while, since windows are expected to last 15 to 20 years, or so.
Many people are making their HVAC system and appliances work harder than they really need to be comfortable. For example, try changing the thermostat by 10 or so degrees when out of the house or tucked in for the night. You might be surprised to find that you sleep just as well at 65 degrees in the winter under a comforter, as you do when it's set to 75 degrees.
The same goes for the summer when the ceiling fan can keep the air that was cooled during the day circulating. Such changes can adjust your bill by as much as 10 percent! Most thermostats today are programmable, so you don't even have to remember to make the switch every day. And if yours isn't, there are many affordable, easy to install options on the market now
The same concept goes for any refrigerator/freezers. Often, people set refrigerators at 33 or 34 degrees, and freezers at much lower. Instead, adjust the setting to 5 degrees for the freezer and 38 for the refrigerator.
People typically overuse hot water when doing laundry, washing hands and taking long, luxurious showers. The first two tasks work just fine with cold water, so make the switch in order to save precious pennies on your electric bill. Then, shorten your shower by a couple of minutes. You'll get just as clean at less cost.
While you're at it, consider installing a showerhead with a WaterSense label, which restricts water flow to two gallons per minute, if not less (again, with landlord approval). Such an easy add-on can save the average household about 2,300 gallons per year!
With some low-cost investments and simple steps, you can lower the cost of the electric bill in your apartment and help the planet.
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.